If you're traveling to Phoenix or Scottsdale in late November, whether you're celebrating Thanksgiving with family or friends or just happen to be there this time of year for a business trip, there are plenty of festive celebrations, attractions, and things to do in the area this holiday season.
From Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trots to the opening holiday lighting ceremonies for some of the area's biggest attractions, Greater Phoenix has something for everyone to do on Thanksgiving Day, so even if you're just in town on a business trip, you can do something other than sitting in your hotel room.
Explore the following article and discover some of the Thanksgiving Day celebrations Phoenix has to offer—or just some of the great area attractions open during the holiday—so you can plan your upcoming trip to this thriving Arizona city.
Thanksgiving Attractions and Activities
The area offers plenty of Turkey Day traditions and events worth checking out if you're in the city for the day. Perhaps the biggest event of the holiday is the Fountain Hills' Thanksgiving Day Parade, which takes place on November 22 at 9 a.m. and boasts as the only parade in the entire state on this special day. Featuring floats, horses, and even a Grand Marshall, the Parade of the Hills is a perfect way to start out your Thanksgiving celebrations.
However, if you're more in the mood to work on your fitness during this feast-centric holiday, you can find a Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot for either a competitive or a fun run or walk, though some require advanced registration or have reduced prices for advance registration, so act fast if you want to be part of these experiences.
Alternatively, you can burn a few calories before Thanksgiving dinner at the Chandler Turkey Swim. Chandler Aquatics staff are opening Hamilton Aquatic Center for lap swimming from 5:30 to 7:30 a.m. on Thursday, November 22. The water is heated and admission is free to participants bringing a canned food item to be donated to the Harvest Compassion Center in Chandler.
Once you've had your fill of Thanksgiving dinner, though, you should also check out the lighting ceremonies for area attractions that get decorated for the Christmas season in November. ZooLights in Phoenix and the holiday lights at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess are both great attractions if you're looking for a Thanksgiving night attraction.
Finally, doing something nice for someone else may be the answer this year, and there are always volunteer opportunities on Thanksgiving Day. Keep in mind that you usually have to arrange to volunteer in advance through the organization that you select and they probably won't use you if you weren't scheduled to participate.
Other Attractions Open on Thanksgiving Day
If you're not looking to get into the holiday spirit, there are still a number of great area attractions to visit that are open on Thanksgiving Day. From swimming pools and bowling alleys to special events like the Arizona International Auto Show, there's plenty to do in Phoenix that has nothing to do with the holiday itself.
The Arizona International Auto Show happens to start on Thanksgiving Day and is held at the Phoenix Convention Center, where you'll be able to see hundreds of the newest cars, trucks, minivans, and sport-utility vehicles that will be introduced by auto manufacturers in the upcoming year.
Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium, and Safari Park in Litchfield Park is open every year on Thanksgiving Day, as are the Butterfly Wonderland (people of all ages) and the adjoining OdySea Mirror Maze (best for people about seven years old and up) in Scottsdale, and the SEA LIFE Arizona Aquarium in Tempe.
Recreational activities like golf and bowling are available on Thanksgiving. Call your favorite lanes and golf courses before you go to make sure they are open and to confirm the hours, but taking your friends bowling, spending time in the game arcade, or watching football on the big-screen TVs at Uptown Alley is a great way to pass the holiday away from the hustle and bustle of those celebrating it.
Take an exciting scenic drive on the Apache Trail. This well-traveled road affords visitors an incredible view of canyons, geologic formations, desert plants and trees, and desert and lake views. It isn't for nervous drivers or passengers, though, and make sure you have a full tank of gas before you go. Alternatively, you can go for a hike or visit a local riparian area. South Mountain is a popular place for hiking, and, of course, lots of people will climb Camelback Mountain that morning before the feast!
There are always new movies coming out during the holidays, too, so find out what's playing at your local movie theater on Thanksgiving Day, or you could satisfy your need for speed at Octane Raceway's go-cart races in Scottsdale or the Castles 'n' Coasters park in Phoenix.