The Best Thanksgiving Day Specials, Attractions & Events in Los Angeles

Enjoy theme parks, outdoor ice skating and turkey trots

Main image for article titled The Best Thanksgiving Day Specials, Attractions & Events in Los Angeles
Photo courtesy of Turkey Trot Los Angeles, Facebook

Los Angeles has always been known for bucking tradition, so it's no accident that Southern California gives those who visit during Thanksgiving ample opportunity to do the same. With average temperatures well into the 60s, numerous dining options, and many attractions open for at least part of the day, Thanksgiving in LA is as stuffed with activities as that turkey about to be carved.

NOTE: All Thanksgiving dinners and events are taking place on Thursday, November 28 unless otherwise noted.

Restaurants

On Thanksgiving Day, restaurants across Los Angeles are preparing sumptuous holiday meals that will please every palate. From traditional dinners to globally inspired feasts and vegan menus, read on for LA restaurants and hotels that are hosting Thanksgiving celebrations.

Universal Studios Hollywood Jurassic World water drop

Jurassic World - The Ride water drop | Photo: Universal Studios Hollywood

Aquaman exhibit | Photo: Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood

Aquaman exhibit | Photo: Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood

Theme Parks & Attractions

For a fun, family-friendly Thanksgiving Day, a visit to one of LA's numerous attractions may be just the ticket.

Book the VIP Experience at Universal Studios Hollywood, and get VIP seats to shows and front-of-line privileges to all attractions, including the new Jurassic World and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ - from magical spells to magical creatures, from dark villains to daring heroes, it's all here! Experience Fast & Furious: Supercharged, Springfield - home of The Simpsons; Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem - a 3D Ultra-HD movie motion-simulator ride; and Super Silly Fun Land, an interactive playland adventure.

For movie and TV fans, few LA attractions can compare to Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood, which offers an immersive, behind the scenes look into Hollywood at work. Highlights of the two-hour tour include DC Universe: The Exhibit, featuring legendary superheroes like Aquaman, Wonder Woman and their nemeses; props and costumes from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and the beloved Harry Potter films; Stage 48: Script to Screen, an interactive soundstage that explores the film and TV production process; and cinematic treasures in the Prop Department.

If you're looking for thrills, there are 20 roller coasters at Six Flags Magic Mountain - more than any amusement park in the world - making it the undisputed “Roller Coaster Capital of the World.”

For a classic oceanfront experience, visit Pacific Park at the Santa Monica Pier for rides and games the whole family will enjoy.

Book a first-class tour of the legendary Queen Mary and experience the 4-D Theatre, Princess Diana Exhibit, Their Finest Hours: Winston Churchill, the Engine Room and much more. Then enjoy a lavish Thanksgiving Brunch or prix fixe dinner at Sir Winston's.

Enjoy a Thanksgiving lunch buffet at the Aquarium of the Pacific's Cafe Scuba, then gobble gobble with sea otters and over 11,000 other animals from the world's largest ocean.

LA Auto Show

Whether you're a lifelong car enthusiast or just looking for something the entire family will enjoy on Thanksgiving, don't miss the LA Auto Show, open to the public November 22 - December 1 at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Downtown LA. Founded in 1907, the LA Auto Show is world-renowned as the first major North American auto show of the season.

The LA Auto Show offers something for everyone: more than 1,000 cars on display, including 65+ debuts; free test drives of 100 of the latest models; stunning custom builds, VR experiences, the life-size LEGO Bugatti Chiron, and a real-life version of Guinevere, the van from Disney•Pixar’s upcoming film, Onward.

Silent Skate Party at the Bai Holiday Ice Rink Pershing Square

Silent Skate Party at the Bai Holiday Ice Rink Pershing Square | Photo: Holiday Ice Rink DTLA, Facebook

Outdoor Ice Skating

From Downtown LA to the Beach Cities, enjoy a quintessential Southern California holiday experience and work off some of that turkey at one of the outdoor ice skating rinks that are open on Thanksgiving.

Griffith Park Attractions

Spanning more than 4,200 acres, Griffith Park is is one of the largest municipal parks with urban wilderness areas in the United States. Griffith Park is open to the public daily from 5 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Hiking paths, bridle trails and mountain roads are closed at sunset.

Griffith Park is also home to several attractions that are open on Thanksgiving Day, such as the LA Zoo, Travel Town Museum and Sunset Ranch Hollywood. The iconic Griffith Observatory and the Autry Museum of the American West are closed on Thanksgiving Day but will be open on Friday, November 29.

Botanical Gardens

Take advantage of L.A.'s beautiful weather with a stroll through one of the city's stunning botanical gardens. Located in La Canada Flintridge, Descanso Gardens is a 160-acre urban oasis complete with a camellia oak forest, streams, a lake, bird sanctuary, five-acre International Rosarium and colorful flower displays, as well as a mini-train route for the kids. Further east in Arcadia is the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Gardens, which has 127 acres of birds, plants, animals, and the historic Queen Anne cottage, which famously appeared in the opening credits of TV's Fantasy Island.

For a dazzling evening experience, both Descanso Gardens and the Arboretum are hosting holiday light shows.

Musso & Frank Grill in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio and Al Pacino at Musso & Frank Grill in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood | Photo: Andrew Cooper, Columbia Pictures

"Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" at New Beverly Cinema

Quentin Tarantino's independent movie theatre, New Beverly Cinema is showing the director's latest film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood at 7:30pm on Thanksgiving Day. For this screening, the New Beverly features a special pre-show presentation, movie props, and an exclusive merch table.

Special Events

 

TURKEY TROT LOS ANGELES
The annual Turkey Trot Los Angeles is taking place in Downtown LA from 8am to noon on Thanksgiving morning. Turkey Trot LA features 5K and 10K routes on the historic streets of Downtown, a post-event festival at Grand Park, costume contest and much more. Entry fees are $45 for the 5K Run/Walk (ages 18 and up), $50 for the 10K, $65 for the 5K/10K Combo, and $20 for the Widdle Wobble, a mile-long kids and family run/walk.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, the Turkey Trot benefits The Midnight Mission – an amazing organization that offers a path to self sufficiency to those experiencing homelessness. Make a difference in the lives of LA's neediest individuals by registering and buying a pair of Bombas socks. For each pair sold, another pair is donated to The Midnight Mission along with a $6 donation. Participants can also purchase an I HEART LA button during registration.

THANKSGIVING FEASTS - LAUGH FACTORY
The world famous Laugh Factory will host its annual free Thanksgiving Feasts on Thanksgiving Day. Top comedians like Dane Cook, Kevin Nealon, Shawn Wayans, Tim Allen, Tom Arnold and other celebrities will help serve each guest a turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Comics will perform live shows following each meal served throughout the day at 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Last year, the Laugh Factory served 2,500 people - the goal is to host even more guests this year.

THANKSGIVING DAY RUN & FOOD DRIVE - LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE
Now in its 26th year, the Thanksgiving Day Run & Food Drive takes place at Memorial Park in La Cañada Flintridge. The 5K run/walk is open to all ages and abilities and is a major fundraiser for the Community Center; proceeds are used to support its year-round programs. The race is professionally timed and begins promptly at 8:30 a.m. The 1-Mile Kids’ Run begins at 9:30 a.m. and is ideal for children age 12 and under. Pre-registration for the 5K is $40 and $20 for the Kids’ Run. Participants are asked to bring a non-perishable food item to be dropped off at Memorial Park on Thanksgiving morning and donated to families in need.

WESTSIDE THANKSGIVING
The Westside Thanksgiving - Community Dinner & Celebration is taking place at the West LA Civic Center on Thanksgiving Day. A free sit-down dinner is served from 11am - 3pm. Free services include haircuts, blankets, clothing, hygiene kits, medical/optical/dental exams, vaccination, resource fair, and a children's carnival. Everyone is invited - veterans, students, low-income families, seniors, anyone who is homeless, and anyone who is alone on Thanksgiving.

HARRY SUTTER MEMORIAL THANKSGIVING DAY FUN RUN
The entire family is invited to participate in the 40th Annual Harry Sutter Memorial Thanksgiving Day Fun Run. The three-mile fun run/walk begins at 8am on Thanksgiving morning. A raffle follows the fun run - winners must be present to receive prizes. Runners and spectators alike can bring canned goods for a special Thanksgiving Food Drive. While you watch, run or walk, your canned foods will be distributed to people in need throughout the South Bay.