6 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 Tacoma.

Watch Seattle's Post-Thanksgiving Parade

Winding through downtown Seattle, the Macy's Holiday Parade is a fun way to kick off the holiday season as you enjoy floats, marching bands, and the arrival of Santa. There are even huge balloons just like the ones in New York City's parade. The 2019 Seattle Holiday Parade is expected to take place on Friday, November 29. The parade, traditionally kicking off at 9 a.m., starts at 7th Avenue and Pine and finishes up at the Westlake Center, which just so happens to be the perfect spot for viewing the after-parade fireworks. After the parade, kids can go to the annual Santaland inside Macy's on the second floor to take pictures with Santa. 

See Christmas Lights Displays

Christmas lights displays pop up across Seattle starting the day after Thanksgiving. There are several outdoor displays that you can look forward to.

  • Woodland Park Zoo: Seattle's Wildlights at the zoo opens November 29, 2019, and continues through January 5, 2020. See the lights every night except December 2, 3, 9, 10, 24 and 25. 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. For 2019 there will be some new lighting displays. 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 for Wildlights in the evening.
  • Bellevue Botanical Garden: Garden d’Lights 2019 opens on November 30 and continues through December 31, 2019. From 4:30–9:00 p.m. nightly you'll be wowed by over half a million sparkling lights formed into the fun shapes of plants, flowers, birds, and animals. Look for lit cascading waterfalls set amid the beauty of the garden. It's recommended that you purchase your tickets online.
  • Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium: Zoo Lights takes place on November 29, 2019, through January 5, 2020, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. (closed December 24, 2019). 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.

Go Ice Skating

If you've got some twinkle in your toes, donning a pair of ice skates and twirling (or at least cautiously gliding) across the ice is festive and fun for all ages. Most area ice skating rinks open the day after Thanksgiving. You can enjoy a skate at several rinks.

  • Winterfest Ice Rink: Part of Seattle Center’s Winterfest, this popular ice skating rink is set up at Fisher Pavilion from November 29, 2019, until December 31, 2019. 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. The Bellevue Downtown Ice Rink is open every day between November 29, 2019, through January 20, 2020, including Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
  • Sprinker Ice Arena (Tacoma): This year-round center offers all kinds of sports courts, fields and areas, but also has a nationally recognized ice skating rink with an NFL regulation surface. You can take lessons and sign up for team activities or skate informally during public skate sessions (skate rentals available). During the holidays, there are special skate times and events to add a festive atmosphere.

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 an 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 traditionally include in Seattle 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, the award-winning Pacific Grill, or the more affordable Shari's. For a vegetarian Thanksgiving, check out Flora's Cafe.

Shop for Black Friday Deals

If you don't mind the crowds, heading out to local malls to find deals can be fun and a little crazy, especially if you go early in the morning. Seattle, Tacoma, and everywhere in between starts off the holiday season with a little bit of shopping madness.

Area malls and shopping centers, from Seattle's malls to South Sound shopping centers, 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 your local business owners the following Saturday for Small Business Saturday, too.

Opt Outside

Both on Thanksgiving Day and the days that follow, outdoor recreation such as walking, biking, and hiking is popular and will help shed a few holiday pounds. Some popular recreation spots include:

  • Alki Trail: With three sections, one of them separated into sections for bikes and pedestrians, this multi-use trail follows Alki Avenue for some great exercise with a water view. The Alki Trail starts at the West Seattle Bridge, goes past Harbor Island, and around the tip of West Seattle. Stop for a rest and take in the views of the Seattle skyline. Street parking on Alki Avenue is available for the full length of the trail.
  • Burke-Gilman Trail: The 25-mile multi-use Burke-Gilman Trail is one of Seattle’s most popular trails. The path starts at 11th Avenue NW in Ballard, and then goes along the Lake Washington Ship Canal, through the University District and then north along the Lake Washington border to Bothell. 
  • Discovery Park: On a point with views of Puget Sound, the 534-acre Discovery Park in the Magnolia neighborhood of Seattle contains 11.81 miles of walking trails.
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