What You Should Do On Thanksgiving Day in Atlanta (Beyond Shopping)

When the turkey has been carved, the last piece of pie has been eaten and the adults wake up from a nap, what is there to do in Atlanta on Thanksgiving Day? Beyond hitting the mall or other retail stores? The answer is, a lot. So if you’re going a little stir crazy with the family in town, or you just want to get out and work off a few helpings of stuffing, here is what to do on Thanksgiving Day in Atlanta.


Run (or Trot)

Before the craziness begins, slip out for a little run. The Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon and 5K attract thousands of runners and walkers eager to share in the holiday spirit and give thanks for their health and fitness. Come celebrate this Thanksgiving Day with the Atlanta Track Club and earn your turkey!

Go for a hike

Fall is here with cooler temperatures and leaves still falling from the trees. Enjoy the outdoors and work off a little of your Thanksgiving meal with a family hike. Here are three places near Atlanta to enjoy a hike

  • Sope Creek Trail – This trail in Marietta takes you to a babbling creek and historic mill ruins.
  • Sweetwater Creek State Park – My boys loved hopping the rocks across the creek. You’ll also walk past mill ruins. Unfortunately, the Green certified visitor’s center is closed on Thanksgiving, but come back another day to check out the museum about Sweetwater Mill. Hear first person accounts of the day Union soldiers came to the Mill and destroyed it.
  • Amicalola State Park – In addition to hiking, you can enjoy living history demonstrations in the lodge lobby throughout the day. Contact the Lodge for specific times.

In fact, all the Georgia State Parks are open on Thanksgiving day (as well as Christmas and New Years). And if you are looking for a way to #optoutside the day AFTER Thanksgiving, they have a full slate of events too. And REI has an entire website to inspire you to #optoutside and share with friends. Who has time to shop when there is so much to do!


Go Biking

Whether you just want to ride along a paved path, or hit the mountain bike trails, you’ll find a lot of places around metro Atlanta to enjoy a bike ride.

  • Silver Comet Trail – This trail is in Smyrna, and goes all the way to Alabama.
  • Atlanta Beltline – There are several different sections of the Atlanta Beltline. Along each route you’ll find local art as part of the Art on the Beltline project.
  • Hard Labor Creek State Park – This state park just east of Atlanta has miles of mountain bike trails for the beginner through advanced biker.

Go Ice Skating

Atlanta has several different ice rinks with very different personalities. Choose the one that is right for you and go ice skating in Atlanta on Thanksgiving Day. Here is a review of the ice rinks in Atlanta with links to additional information.

See Lights

Thanksgiving night is a perfect time to see Holiday Lights in Atlanta. This is one of the most popular evenings, so if you plan to go to any of the paid attractions, call ahead for tickets and no matter where you go, bring an extra dose of patience. You aren’t the only one with this great idea. My current favorite light display is the Atlanta Botanical Gardens Garden Nights, Holiday Lights. The Drive-Thru Christmas Lights at The Rock Ranch are open Thanksgiving night from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.! Cruise through for free Nov. 23 – Nov. 30!

Play with LEGOS

LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Phipps Plaza is open on Thanksgiving Day from 10 – 7 pm. Get $12 discount tickets before you go here.

Go on a Scavenger Hunt

Purchase a ClueTown Book before the holiday and explore the city with a scavenger hunt. Solve puzzles to move on to the next stop. There are four ClueTown Books, so you can explore any of these four areas of Atlanta. Decatur, Piedmont Park, Oakland Cemetery or The Atlanta Beltline.

Play with Trucks

Ok, so this IS a retail store, but they have lots of fun kids activities that will get them out of the house and doing something. At Bass Pro Shops Santa’s Wonderland, you can play with RC trucks, as well as shoot in the laser arcade, or do a craft. If you’d like, get your picture taken with Santa. The best part is, it’s all free.

Looking for something to do the day AFTER Thanksgiving, try the High Museum of Art Family Day.

Pin This Post:  After all the food is gone or even before, use these great ideas for things to do in Atlanta on Thanksgiving Day. There are great suggestions for getting kids outside and activities the whole family will enjoy. Take a bike ride, go for a hike, join the Turkey Trot 5K, or go enjoy the holiday lights. These activities are good on the budget and your body! #Thanksgiving #thingstodo #Atlanta #kids #family #holidays


Sue Rodman | Co-Founder

Sue came to Atlanta after finishing the Walt Disney World College Program where she was a tour guide then guest relations hostess (and no she did not moonlight as Snow White). Sue spent 25 years in PR before adding freelance travel writing to her resume. Prior to 365 Atlanta Traveler, Sue published an award winning family travel blog called Field Trips with Sue for eight years, and produced a TV segment with the same name on CBS Better Mornings Atlanta. Her favorite place to visit is anywhere with her husband and three sons. Sue believes anytime is a good time for dessert and there are no bad field trips, just better stories. @SueRodman

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