What to See and Do in New Orleans Over Thanksgiving Weekend

Thanksgiving weekend offers plenty of possibilities in New Orleans. The weather is usually beautiful, and there are many special events from Labor Day through the end of the year. Thanksgiving weekend, in particular, offers everything from horse racing to a classic football game, shopping, great places to eat and even a spectacular light show.

Play the Ponies

The Saturday before Thanksgiving is opening day at The Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.

Thoroughbred racing continues on Thanksgiving Day and each day through the weekend after Turkey Day. The facility also includes slots, video poker and cash giveaways each weekend. The track has a rich history: Founded in 1852, it was originally called Union Race Course but closed briefly in 1857. Reopened in 1859 as the Creole Race Course, it was sacked by Union troops during the Civil War. Nevertheless, horse racing continued -- as it has to this day. So, relish your turkey dinner, then come enjoy the sport of kings at this historic track.

Watch a Classic Football Game

Every Thanksgiving weekend, the Southern Jaguars and the Grambling State Tigers meet in one of the greatest rivalries in college football, the Bayou Classic. The teams face off in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, often just referred to as The Superdome. The matchup is a nationally televised game that brings the faithful of both teams to New Orleans.

 So, join the crowds at this classic game and cheer on the team of your choice for some hard-hitting football.

Thanksgiving Dinner

Of course, you'll be looking for a great meal with all the trimmings on Thanksgiving Day. Don't spend all day -- or more -- messing up your kitchen, peeling potatoes, cooking green beans and baking pumpkin pie.

Let someone else fix a sumptuous feast for you and your family. From great bunches that feature classic New Orleans jazz bands to a restaurant famous for its Creole cuisine, posh breakfasts and bananas foster, New Orleans has eateries to satisfy every palate. These are the best restaurants for your Thanksgiving Day -- or any holiday -- meal in New Orleans.

Go Shopping and See the Lights

The day after Thanksgiving is a day to shop. Magazine Street with over six miles of locally owned shops, antique stores and restaurants is the perfect place to find just right the gifts for everyone on your list, including pets. Ater shopping, enjoy the Celebration in the Oaks. The event, which kicks off every year on the day after Thanksgiving, "is one of the most spectacular holiday lights festivals in the country," drawing more than 165,000 visitors annually, according to the City Park website. This not-to-be-missed event takes place in New Orleans' City Park, one of the oldest urban parks in the country, and lasts until Jan. 2.