13 Things to Do on Thanksgiving Day in Atlanta (Beyond Shopping)

Like everything else, Thanksgiving (and Black Friday) may look different this year. But that doesn’t mean it still won’t be awesome. When the Thanksgiving turkey has been carved, the last piece of pumpkin pie has been eaten, and the adults wake up from a nap, you start to look for things to do on Thanksgiving Day in Atlanta.

things to do on thanksgiving day

So if you’re going a little stir crazy with lots of family time, or you just want to get out and work off a few helpings of Turkey Day stuffing, here are our favorite things to do on Thanksgiving Day in Atlanta (plus you can continue to enjoy this list the entire holiday season).

Run a Half Marathon, 5K, Mile & Dash

Kick off your Thanksgiving with the Invesco QQQ Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon, 5K, Mile & Dash. It’s an Atlanta tradition!

Runners and walkers will earn their turkey as they start their race under Atlanta’s iconic Olympic rings. Stick around for a post-race celebration inside Georgia State Stadium. You’ll want to bring your medal and your bragging rights to Thanksgiving dinner.

A note here to our runner friends that Savannah’s Turkey Trot has been cancelled again this year.

Go for a Hike

Fall is here, bringing with it cooler temps and falling leaves! Enjoy the outdoors and work off a little of your Thanksgiving meal with a family hike. There are lots of great places in and around Atlanta for hiking, plus we’ve got a post on 52 Atlanta Area Destination Hikes in you need more ideas! Here are three of our favorites:

  • Sope Creek Trail in Marietta takes you to a babbling creek and historic mill ruins.

  • My boys loved hopping the rocks across the water at Sweetwater Creek State Park. You’ll also walk past mill ruins. Unfortunately, the Green-certified Visitors Center is closed on Thanksgiving Day, but be sure to come back another day to check out the museum about Sweetwater Mill and learn about the day Union soldiers came to the mill and destroyed it.

  • In addition to hiking at Amicalola Falls State Park, you can enjoy the amazing waterfall. All the Georgia State Parks are open on Thanksgiving Day for hiking. (They’re also open on Christmas and New Year’s Day.)

Bring Out the Board Games

While Thanksgiving dinner is cooking, bring out your favorite board games! Maybe you could even start a tradition and buy a new one each year for the occasion.

Our family favorites include Catan, Exploding Kittens, and some good, old-fashioned Gin Rummy.

And although it’s not a board game, never underestimate the fun of charades! This game always end in laughter. You can even make it Thanksgiving-themed! (Turkey, eating dinner, gobbling, setting the table, baking pies, etc.)

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. Here is a list of our favorite bike trails, and we’ve shared a few other examples below.

  • The Silver Comet Trail in Smyrna is a paved trail that goes all the way to Alabama. This popular trail has lots of great stops along the way.
  • There are several different sections of the Atlanta Beltline to explore. Along each route, you’ll find local art as part of the Art on the Beltline Project.

MORE WINTER FUN: 52+ Super Fun Atlanta Things To Do In Winter That Your Kids Will Love

Watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

If Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving isn’t on TV, does this day of the year even exist?

Last year there was some drama because ABC lost the rights to air the Peanuts gang when Apple TV+ began housing the classic cartoons. Everyone was used to it airing on ABC! But in 2020, Apple TV+ offered it for free for even non-subscribers on Thanksgiving, so hopefully they’ll do that again in 2021. It’s available for Apple TV+ subscribers anytime, so you can watch it all day long if you want!

More good news! PBS and PBS Kids were able to secure the rights to air the holiday specials — so you can catch it there too. Air dates for 2021 have not yet been released.

Volunteer as a Family

Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks, and what better way to do that than to spread the love and give back?

Volunteering is a great way to spend this special holiday. We’ve gathered 13+ Great Atlanta Volunteer Opportunities for Kids and Their Families to help you choose the right one for your crew. Hands on Atlanta also offers volunteer matching — if you need extra help finding the right one.

Go Ice Skating

Atlanta has several different ice rinks, so you can choose the right one for you and your crew! Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly adventure, or a quiet date night, there are plenty of great rinks to choose from in and around our great city.  

Get in the holiday spirit with a day on the ice on Thanksgiving Day. Most are open on Thanksgiving. Here’s our post on Ice Rinks in Atlanta, so you can find the right one for you.

Visit the Georgia Aquarium

Did you know the Georgia Aquarium is open on Thanksgiving Day? It is!

The Georgia Aquarium houses 8 million gallons of fresh and marine water and more than 100,000 animals including four whale sharks — the largest fish on the planet. This attraction is popular for a reason — there is so much to see and do here.

Fun for the kids, but also a lot of fun for the adults — this is a perfect family-friendly outing on Turkey Day.

See a Movie

After a day of turkey, it’s time for a night of popcorn! Movies are back in the theaters, and you can be too.

Thanksgiving is a great day to catch a new film at the theater. Phipps Plaza and Atlantic Station are just a couple of the theaters that are open on Thanksgiving Day (but there are plenty more)! So gather your crew, and head to the cinema.

Play a Little Football

Grab a few of your family members and start a football game in the backyard!

Hey, we know most pigskin lovers prefer watching football over playing it…but start a half-time Thanksgiving tradition that gets your family and friends outside soaking up some fresh air and Vitamin D.

See Holiday Lights

Thanksgiving night is a perfect time to see Holiday Lights in Atlanta! Get the holiday season started off right with a trip to see holiday lights in and around our city.

This is one of the most popular evenings for holiday lights, so if you plan to go to a paid light attraction — make sure you have advanced reservations.

Some of our favorite big lights displays include Fantasy in Lights at Callaway Gardens, the Lakeside Lights at Lake Lanier, and Rock City Christmas.

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 different ClueTown books for different areas of the city — so you can pick the one that suits you best. Piedmont Park, Decatur, Georgia Tech, Suwanee, and Emory University are just some of the options you’ll have to choose from.

Can’t get enough scavenger hunting? Head over to Oakland Cemetery where you can test your sleuthing skills with a Holiday Scavenger Hunt and solve riddles with three different levels of difficulty. There’s no word yet if they’re having this in 2021, but we’re hopeful they will bring it back!

Take a Pic with Santa

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.

While the information for 2021 has not been published yet, in the past kids have been able to play with RC trucks, play at a laser arcade, and do a craft at Bass Pro Shops Santa’s Wonderland!

And — of course — you can get your picture taken with Santa! The best part? It’s all free.

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