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How to Spend Turkey Day in Ten U.S. Cities

Earlier this month we released our forecast for Thanksgiving air travel, including a list of the top 10 traveled U.S. airports during the holiday period, which runs from Nov. 21 through Dec. 2. In case your final destination is one of these cities, we put together a list of some of the festive events happening in case your Turkey Day plans have room for some extra fun!

If you attend one of the events below or have other suggestions for ways to celebrate the season in any of these cities, let us know on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter by using #WillFlyForTurkey!

Atlanta (ATL)

Burn off those Thanksgiving dinner calories before you even eat! Enroll in the Atlanta Half Marathon, 5K, Mashed Potato Mile and Gravy Gallop on Thursday, Nov. 27. Hosted by the Atlanta Track Club, the event will also double as a clothing drive for Atlanta Mission, an organization that houses and serves more than 950 men, women and children daily.

Los Angeles (LAX)

Gobble up your turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes surrounded by sea life at the Aquarium of the Pacific. A traditional Thanksgiving buffet will be available in the Café Scuba overlooking the seal and sea lion exhibit. Take time before or after to enjoy the rest of the aquarium with your family for a unique holiday visit.

Benefiting Toys for Tots, the annual Hollywood Christmas Parade will take place Sunday, Nov. 30 following Thanksgiving Day. Running for more than 80 years, the parade will be hosted by Erik Estrada and Laura McKenzie and will feature floats, balloons, bands, equestrians and celebrities as they ride in a U-shaped route that begins at Hollywood and Orange and ends at Sunset and Orange.

Chicago (ORD)

Find space along the route and enjoy the annual McDonald’s Thanksgiving Day Parade taking place from 8 a.m. – 11 a.m. on Nov. 27. You’ll still have plenty of time to warm up by the fire with a mug of hot spiced cider after watching the many floats, marching bands, balloons, equestrian and musical performances throughout the morning.

Looking for a way to give back? The Greater Chicago Food Depository has two events on Thanksgiving Day that support their efforts to end hunger in the Chicago area, the Life Time Fitness Turkey Day 5K and the Thanksgiving Dinner at Wildfire.

Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW)

Don royal blue or midnight green and relax with 79,999 of your closest friends while watching the annual Thanksgiving Day Dallas Cowboys game, this year against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Head down to Sundance Square Plaza in Fort Worth for a full day of festive activities, food and shopping culminating in the Fort Worth Parade of Lights. Or put on your denim and boots and make your way over to Thanksgiving in the Stockyards for visits with Santa Claus, face painting and gunfight shows.

For those in the Dallas area, visit the largest choreographed holiday light show in North Texas, Frisco’s Christmas in the Square! With over 175,000 lights, this light show set to holiday music is sure to please at any age. While you’re there, drop off an unwrapped toy that will go to benefit Toys for Troops hosted by Operation Once in a Lifetime, a military non-profit group.

New York (JFK)

Always a classic, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will kick off the holiday season for the 88th year in a row. Enjoy the parade at your favorite spot along the route or from the comfort of your own home beginning at 9 a.m. eastern on Thanksgiving Day.

Take a trip back in time to the First Thanksgiving by visiting the New York branch of the National Museum of the American Indian and learning more about the tribes who celebrated in 1621 with the Pilgrims.

Although most volunteer opportunities are full at this point, Gobble Gobble Give accepts volunteers on a first-come first serve basis.

Staying in town? The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting takes place Wednesday, Dec. 3 in Rockefeller Plaza. This year’s performers include Sara Bareilles, Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett among others.

Denver (DEN)

Support United Way in their mission to improve childhood literacy – and feel a little better about that second slice of Grandma’s pie – by running or walking in the four-mile course around Denver’s Washington Park. Families may also be interested in the quarter-mile Family Fun Run. Both the start and finish areas have a number of activities ranging from food, freebies and even a beer garden!

Take in a performance of A Christmas Carol at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Running from Nov. 28 – Dec. 28, the classic holiday novel adapted for the stage follows main character Ebenezer Scrooge through visits from the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future.

San Francisco (SFO)

On Thanksgiving Day, it’s a Christmasy color match when bright green battles scarlet as the Seahawks play against the 49ers at Levi’s Stadium. Don’t want to miss out on turkey? Make a to-go plate and bring your own food into the stadium, as long as it is placed in clear plastic wrappings or bags that comply with the NFL bag policy.

Take the whole family to Union Square and glide alongside the beautifully lit Christmas tree in the Holiday Ice Rink, open daily from 10 a.m. – 11:30 p.m. The new skate-o-meter feature presented by Kaiser Permanente even allows skaters to track their calories burned! A portion of this year’s proceeds benefit the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department.

Phoenix (PHX)

Take a ride on the Polar Express as The Phoenix Symphony performs the annual holiday sing-along. Not into the holiday scene? Change gears and visit the Arizona Auto Show at the Phoenix Convention Center from Nov. 27 – Nov. 30, featuring new cars, trucks and SUVs.

The Hamilton Aquatic Center will hold its seventh annual Turkey Swim on Thanksgiving Day from 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Bring a canned good for donation and swim for free! Just remember to wait at least 30 minutes after gobbling up that holiday feast before you dive in.

Charlotte (CLT)

Get out and enjoy nature with a stroll through the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden Holidays at the Garden, featuring traditional train displays and visits with Santa, as well as the new Lost Hollow theater with a variety of entertainment options. The build your own holiday wreath workshop is Nov. 30 from 12:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. and Holiday Tea is the same day from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Volunteer some time by helping out a local charity, like Charlotte Rescue Mission. If you already have a full plate this year, you can still help out those who are less fortunate. Make an extra pumpkin pie or side of green beans and drop them off.

Houston (IAH)

Combine your love of the arts with the holiday season and watch as the Houston Ballet holds the 27th annual Tree Lighting Ceremony at Wortham Theater Center. Characters from The Nutcracker will be greeting guests and various performances will take place between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Join thousands of other Houstonians and out-of-town guests on Thanksgiving evening to watch the annual Uptown Houston Holiday Lighting with fireworks, music and special guest, Santa Claus!

Give back and celebrate the season by the seashore! Receive two-for-one admission to the Festival of Lights at Moody Gardens on Fridays by bringing a non-perishable food item, which will be donated to the Galveston County and Houston Food Bank.

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