Things to Do

Ways You Can Get Out of the House on Thanksgiving Weekend

Go on a fun outing with your family—or by yourself if you're tired of them

The Annual Thanksgiving Day Trot for Hunger 5K. Photo courtesy of SOME.

Just because it’s a holiday doesn’t mean that you have to sit around the house with your family and do nothing. There is plenty that you can do on Thanksgiving, whether it’s hanging out around the town or grabbing a few drinks.

See an exhibit at the Smithsonian 

Smithsonian museums will be open on Thanksgiving. Check out cool futuristic gadgets at the Art and Industries Building’s brand new FUTURES exhibition, or explore how artists portray the resilience of the Black community at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. For more recommendations, check out our list of interesting exhibits.

Run a holiday 5K

Join SOME (So Others Might Eat) for its 20th Annual Trot For Hunger on Thanksgiving. The race, which starts at DC’s Freedom Plaza, raises money to provide housing, food, and healthcare for local families in need. You can run or walk the race as a timed or untimed participant. If you can’t make it to the in-person event, you can run the race virtually. There will also been a mile-long race for kids before the actual 5K. You can register here.

Watch a holiday-themed show

If you want to get into the holiday spirit a little early, go see a holiday-themed performance. The Washington Ballet and Miami City Ballet will perform Tchaikovsky’s holiday classic The Nutcracker this week at the Kennedy Center and Warner Theatre, respectively.

If you’re looking for something less traditional, America’s Got Talent semifinalist Lightwire Theater is coming to the Fairfax Center for the Arts this weekend to put on their production of A Very Electric Christmas. The show follows a young bird named Max, who ends up at the North Pole while flying south for the winter with his family. Watch toy soldiers and worms sing and dance to classic holiday hits as Max tries to find his way home. You can buy tickets here.

Shop at a holiday market

Get a head start on gift shopping at a holiday market. The Downtown Holiday Market will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, but you could always go afterwards. Browse through more than 70 vendors selling art, clothing, jewelry, antiques, and more. There will also be  local food and drink vendors and live performances.

You can also head to the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown for a European-inspired outdoor market. Starting on Saturday, you can go from stall to stall and shop unique gifts from local artisans. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Children’s National Hospital.

See dazzling holiday light displays

Holiday decorations and fancy light installations are popping up around the city. Enchant Christmas is bringing its mythical Christmas village back to Nationals Park on Saturday. You can go through a Christmas Light Maze, listen to stories while taking photos with the Clauses, and skate around beautiful light displays.

Or, head to Leesburg and travel along the Holiday Road. The illuminated walking trail is decked with displays that will transport you to the North Pole, Gingerbread Lane, and Christmas tree forests.

Grab a drink

We know that the anticipation of spending the holiday weekend with your family is eating away at you. If you need something to take the edge off, there are plenty of bars around the city that will be open late on Thanksgiving Eve. Grab yourself a drink, and take your mind off of the madness.

Damare Baker
Research Editor

Before becoming Research Editor, Damare Baker was an Editorial Fellow and Assistant Editor for Washingtonian. She has previously written for Voice of America and The Hill. She is a graduate of Georgetown University, where she studied international relations, Korean, and journalism.