Thanksgiving in Phoenix: Attractions, Events, and Things to Do


Courtesy of Phoenix Zoo

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 in Arizona this time of year, 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 sit in your hotel room.

01 of 06

Check Out the Fountain Hills Thanksgiving Day Parade

Perhaps the biggest event of the holiday—held about a 45-minute drive from Phoenix—is the Fountain Hills Thanksgiving Day Parade, which boasts itself as the only parade in the entire state on this special day. Featuring floats, motorcycle shows, horses, and even a grand marshal, the event (also known as the Parade of the Hills) is a perfect way to start out your Thanksgiving celebrations.

02 of 06

Run or Walk the Turkey Trot

If you're more in the mood to work on your fitness during this feast-centric holiday, you can sign up for the Phoenix Turkey Trot and participate in a competitive and fun 5K run or walk and 10k run on scenic routes through Downtown Phoenix. The event also includes a 1-mile Gobbler Dash for parents and kids ages 12 and under and a Tot Trot 50-yard dash for ages 6 and under. If you sign up early enough, you might be able to take advantage of reduced prices for advanced registration.

03 of 06

Visit the Hamilton Aquatic Center

Alternatively, you can burn a few calories before Thanksgiving dinner at the Turkey Swim in the town of Chandler, about a 40-minute drive from Phoenix. Hamilton Aquatic Center will be open the holiday morning for visitors who want to swim a few laps in a heated pool. There is no charge for admission when participants bring a canned food item, which will be donated to a local food bank.

04 of 06

See the Christmas Lights

Once you've had your fill of Thanksgiving food, check out the lighting ceremonies for area attractions decorated in November for the Christmas season. ZooLights at the Phoenix Zoo and the more than 4 million sparkling LED holiday lights at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess are both great places to visit if you're looking for something to do on the night of Thanksgiving.

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05 of 06

Enjoy the Arizona International Auto Show

The Arizona International Auto Show happens to start on Thanksgiving Day and is held at the Phoenix Convention Center. Here, 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. It's a unique way to spend the day, especially if you're celebrating the holiday with any car-enthusiasts.

06 of 06

Drive the Apache Trail or Hike

Switch things up by taking an exciting scenic drive on the Apache Trail. This well-traveled road affords visitors an incredible view of canyons, geologic formations, and desert and lake views. Alternatively, you can go for a hike or visit a local riparian areaSouth Mountain is also a popular place for hiking, and you'll find many people climbing Camelback Mountain on the morning before the big meal.