5 Things to Do in Seattle for Thanksgiving

Pumpkin pie

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Thanksgiving is a holiday that means many things to many people—family time, delicious food, getting outdoors for some recreation together, or even a shopping frenzy the day after. Whether you intend to stay at home and prepare a multi-course meal, head out to a restaurant, or do something fun before your feast, there are many ways you can enjoy Thanksgiving in Seattle and nearby Tacoma, which is about 25 miles south. While the chances of rain increase in November, there are still plenty of opportunities to get out and enjoy one of the Pacific Northwest's most iconic cities.

Eat Out for Thanksgiving

Don’t want to deal with the hassle of making Thanksgiving dinner? Or worse, the cleanup? Many restaurants serve Thanksgiving dinner in Seattle and Tacoma and are prepared to do the work for you. You can often go the upscale route as well, making Thanksgiving not just a day of food, but a day of fine food. Expect twists on the traditional items, such as herbed stuffing or mashed potatoes with tasty and artistic additions.

Some restaurants that have opened for Thanksgiving in the past include Outlier and Ruth's Chris Steak House located downtown and Six Seven Restaurant Lounge near Pier 66. Nearby Tacoma also has restaurants open for Thanksgiving such as Stanely and Seafort's or the more affordable Shari's Restaurant. For a vegetarian Thanksgiving, you can check out Cafe Flora.

See the Christmas Lights Displays

Christmas lights displays pop up across Seattle starting the day after Thanksgiving.

  • Woodland Park Zoo: Seattle's Wildlights at the zoo is billed as "Seattle's wildest holiday lights festival." You'll be entranced with the sparkling light displays, have a snowball fight with fake snow, find up-close animal encounters, and top the evening off with hot chocolate. Be sure and see the holiday light spectacular at the zoo’s south entrance. You can purchase evening-only tickets or combination tickets that will allow you into the zoo for the day and Wildlights in the evening.
  • Bellevue Botanical Garden: The botanical garden's Garden d’Lights event usually wows visitors with over half a million sparkling lights formed into the fun shapes of plants, flowers, birds, and animals. However, the event has been canceled for 2020.
  • Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium: Zoo Lights takes place on November 27, 2020, through January 3, 2021, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. You'll find the zoo grounds lit by 700,000 lights, many of them in 3-D animal light displays. You can purchase tickets online and at Fred Meyer stores.

Get Outdoors

If you need to burn some post-Thanksgiving meal calories, there are many ways to get active in the beautiful surroundings of Seattle, such as walking, biking, or hiking. You can try the multi-use Alki Trail that starts at the West Seattle Bridge, goes past Harbor Island, and around the tip of West Seattle and happens to be a great place to see the skyline. The 25-mile Burke-Gilman Trail is also a popular trail that goes along the Lake Washington Ship Canal, through the University District, and then north along the Lake Washington border to Bothell. Alternatively, Discovery Park in the Magnolia neighborhood of Seattle contains 11.81 miles of walking trails and has great views of Puget Sound.

Go Ice Skating

Don a pair of ice skates and get to twirling (or at least cautiously gliding) across the ice at one of the many skating rinks in Seattle, which typically open on the day after Thanksgiving.

  • Winterfest Ice Rink: Part of Seattle Center’s Winterfest, this popular ice skating rink is traditionally set up at the Fisher Pavilion. Admission includes skate rentals.
  • Belleview Downtown Ice Rink: Located in Bellevue’s Downtown Park, this ice skating rink is the only open-air ice skating rink in the area, which offers free skating lessons for kids and allows parents with strollers on the ice on select days.
  • Sprinker Ice Arena: This year-round center in Tacoma offers all kinds of sports courts and fields but also has a nationally recognized ice skating rink. You can take lessons and sign up for team activities or skate informally during public skate sessions. During the holidays, there are special skate times and events to add a festive atmosphere.

Shop for Black Friday Deals

If you don't mind the crowds, heading out to local malls to find Black Friday deals can be fun and a little crazy, especially if you go early in the morning. Seattle, Tacoma, and everywhere in between start off the holiday season with a little bit of shopping madness. Area malls and shopping centers, from the Bellevue Square Mall in Seattle to the Outlet Collection in Tacoma. Almost all open early in the morning the day after Thanksgiving, and most have door-busting sales just waiting to be discovered. Don't forget to support local business owners the following Saturday for Small Business Saturday.

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