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Family-Friendly Things to Do in San Diego This Thanksgiving

Family-Friendly Things to Do in San Diego This Thanksgiving

ice skating rink by ocean

Family-Friendly Things to Do in San Diego This Thanksgiving

Turkey day is just around the corner! And in addition to good food and family gatherings, there are so many fun things to see and do with the whole family this season. Round up the kids, and add some new experiences and traditions to your Thanksgiving Day this year. These San Diego events make it easy for your family festivities to be joyful, exciting and filled with love! Don’t forget to give thanks for all the great times spent together!


According to the National Turkey Federation, only 88 percent of Americans chow down on turkey on Thanksgiving Day.


holiday dinner buffet

father and child

Hotel Del Coronado Thanksgiving Dinner

If you’re seeking an elegant ambiance with live musical entertainment to enjoy your Thanksgiving meal, you won’t find a better place to do it than San Diego’s iconic Hotel del Coronado. There are two magnificent dining rooms (one is oceanfront!) featuring a traditional Thanksgiving spread, fresh seafood, as well and a special children’s buffet!

Ice Skating by the Sea

The Hotel del Coronado also offers outdoor ice skating overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Talk about a unique Southern California experience! The famous hotel’s oceanfront Windsor Lawn is turned into a magical ice rink during the holiday season, with daily skating sessions starting on November 22 and running through January 5. Don’t miss the chance to ice skate⁠—or slip and slide all over the place⁠—this Thanksgiving.

ice skating

child by ice skating rink

Explore Tide Pools

With fall’s low tides, it’s a great time to enjoy the natural wonders of San Diego’s tide pool ecosystems⁠—especially in popular spots like Point Loma and La Jolla. Observe crabs, sea mollusks, fish and even an octopus if you’re lucky, in their natural habit. It’s a captivating glimpse into a very fragile ecosystem, which also means you can look, but don’t touch!


Thanksgiving wasn’t always a national holiday. Sarah Josepha Hale, the woman who wrote “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” convinced President Lincoln in 1863 to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. She wrote letters to him for 17 years campaigning for the holiday.


kids on the beach toddler and dog at beach

Watch the Mother Goose Parade

The Mother Goose Parade is a San Diego tradition, typically bringing about 400,000 spectators along the streets of El Cajon on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. The event raises money for the nonprofit, the Mother Goose Parade Association. They work to help children through encouraging and promoting higher education with scholarship awards and personal growth programs and workshops. It’s a fun event for a great cause! Check out the bands, clowns, floats and two-mile equestrian ride on Sunday, November 24!

O’side Turkey Trot

Ready to trot through beautiful Oceanside? Register now for the O’side Turkey Trot on November 28! This awesome Thanksgiving Day tradition gets you moving and gives back to the community. The whole family can enjoy this 14th annual Turkey Trot and make a difference at the same time. There will even be a costume contest, team competitions and live entertainment. The fun continues with free digital photos, medals and shirts provided!

thanksgiving day race

child running in race

family in marathon

San Diego Run For the Hungry

Run or stroll through San Diego’s Historic Gaslamp Quarter and lovely downtown during the Run For the Hungry on November 28. Forget sleeping in late, this event is great for families looking to get in some exercise before their Thanksgiving feast. Over the last 16 years, this charity run has been a popular family tradition and each runner’s race fee will help those in need. Plus, dogs are not only welcome but if registered, they’ll get a bandana and treats!


Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national bird, not the eagle.


run for the hungry thanksgiving day marathon

thanksgiving day marathon family

Visit the Zoo

Round up the whole family⁠—especially your relatives from out of town⁠—and visit the world-famous San Diego Zoo Safari Park. It’s open on Thanksgiving Day! You and the kiddos can have a blast seeing all the animals in their natural habitat. Learn about conservation efforts and have an animal encounter or two! Then stop for Thanksgiving dinner at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s Hunte Nairobi Pavilion, where you can enjoy a lavish buffet with Thanksgiving favorites and chef’s specialties.

cheetah zoo exhibit giraffe zoo

San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum

The colorful and inviting San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum is a must for the kids in your family! Science, culture, and art exhibits inspire children to learn through hands-on exploration and imagination. For the Thanksgiving season, they even have a specialty day camp on November 27, Homemade Harvest, where your littles, can make delicious fall favorites to share.


Before becoming a Christmas anthem, Jingle Bells was an 1857 song titled “One Horse Open Sleigh.” Its composer, James Pierpont, intended it to be a Thanksgiving Day song. But it became so popular around Christmas that in 1859 the title was changed to “Jingle Bells” and became a Christmas favorite!


kids in class child silhouette museum

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