Things to Do

8 Things to Do Around DC on Thanksgiving Day and Weekend

Take a break from turkey and get out of the house for a fun outing.

Photograph courtesy of the National Gallery of Art.

Eating a feast, watching football, and spending time with family are classic Thanksgiving activities. But if you need a break from the kitchen and the couch, here are some ways to get out of the house for a free-range Thanksgiving around DC.


Visit a museum

One of the many reasons to love DC’s museums: most are open on Thanksgiving, including all the Smithsonian museums. Stop by the National of Gallery of Art’s East building to check out an exhibition opening on November 18 with nearly 100 paintings by abstract artist Mark Rothko. For more masterpieces, the Hirshhorn recently unveiled the first major retrospective of multimedia artist Simone Leigh’s powerful sculptures. 

Check out holiday decor

Nats Park turns into the winter maze Enchant DC.
Nats Park turns into the winter maze Enchant DC.

If you’re ready to get into the holiday spirit, there are plenty of displays around town. The United States Botanic Garden’s annual holiday exhibit opens on Thanksgiving with elaborate Christmas-themed decor, including a model train that winds its way past replicas of DC landmarks made from plant materials. For cheery illuminations, Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna is already filled with colorful bulbs, and Enchant DC in Nationals Park opens on November 24 with a massive light maze. 


Go ice skating

Lace up your skates to partake in this wintry tradition outside the National Gallery of Art. The outdoor ice rink in the Sculpture Garden is slated to open on November 20, weather permitting. Entry is $12 for adults and $10 for kids 12 and under. Skate rentals are available.

Run a Turkey Trot

2022 Arlington Turkey Trot. Photograph courtesy of Arlington Turkey Trot.
2022 Arlington Turkey Trot. Photograph courtesy of Arlington Turkey Trot.

Head to Freedom Plaza bright and early on Thanksgiving Day for the 22nd annual Trot For Hunger, a 5K race sponsored by nonprofit So Others Might Eat. The day’s events also include a one-mile race for kids plus a costume competition for pets. Outside of the District, trots are happening in Alexandria, Arlington, and Bethesda. 


Volunteer your time

There are many ways to help feed people for the holiday. Before Thanksgiving Day, help prepare the fixings with Edlavitch DCJCC and DC Central Kitchen. On the holiday, find more volunteering options here.


Fry a bird

Intriguing: deep frying your turkey. Less intriguing: dealing with a giant pot full of boiling oil in your backyard. Instead, take your bird to Medium Rare in Cleveland Park on Thanksgiving Day. The steakhouse will deep fry up your 10-to-12-pound turkey for free from 11 AM to 4 PM. Any donations go towards owner Mark Bucher’s nonprofit Feed the Fridge. 

Shop a holiday market

Photograph courtesy of Downtown Holiday Market.
Photograph courtesy of Downtown Holiday Market.

Get a head start on gift shopping at at the Downtown Holiday Market, a seasonal pop-up taking up two blocks of F Street, from 7th to 9th streets, Northwest. The market also has live entertainment to enjoy while you sip hot beverages.


Watch a movie

AFI Silver Theatre has a stacked lineup of classic movies playing throughout the holiday weekend, including Charlotte’s Web and The Wizard of Oz. Local theaters are also showing new releases such as Napoleon and The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. 

Ike Allen
Assistant Editor