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7 Family-Friendly Things to do Outside This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a holiday where many families come together to celebrate and give thanks for the past year and look forward to the future.

By: Megan Davin + Save to a List

With that in mind, I have always thought of Thanksgiving as a time to worry less about eating and also spend time outside. Thanksgiving should be a time spent with family rather than shopping. There is always time to find activities for the whole family to do so there is never a bad time to start new traditions.

Here are some ideas for the whole family to get outside and enjoy new traditions or put a new spin on old traditions this season.

1. #OptOutside

"As a nation we're still spending over 90 percent of our lives indoors and it's a trend we need to tackle," REI CEO Jerry Stritzke said. Spend the weekend outside in total appreciation. Many people have 4 day weekends so take advantage of all the time possible to spend outside. November is a time where the seasons are changing and creating the opportunity to get outside and breathe some fresh air, it is very important a seasonal well being. While feasting on good foods is a part of this weekend so is getting outside to breathe fresh air.

2. Find Your Local Turkey Trot

Many towns across the country host a local turkey trot. Typically a 5k run or walk and frequently with shorter options for small children this is a great event for the whole family. Whether you are racing or spectating everyone comes together outside having fun. Grandparents or anyone who doesn’t want to run can be the cheering section, kids can enter the children’s races and everyone else can walk/ run the 5k. Overall this is a win, because everyone gets outside.

5 Bay Area Thanksgiving Day Hikes to Earn That Extra Pie | Photo: Julien Bacal

3. Take a Hike

If you think all hikes have to be long and strenuous you are wrong! Find your local easy trail that is family friendly for everyone to do, including the dog. From 30 minutes to an hour or two, get the legs moving while having conversations in nature rather than in the living room. The benefit of a pre-dinner hike is building an appetite all while sharing some of your favorite trails with visitors. It is a well-known fact that too many cooks in the kitchen on thanksgiving leads to stress so if you are not the cook- get everyone else outside, and out of the kitchen. Pick a hike, that works with everyone’s ability level so you do not leave anyone out, creating a lifetime of stories and fun family experiences outside.

4. Have a Backyard Bonfire

Feeling stuffed after the big meal? Pull out your fall jackets, and bundle up. Relax outside around bonfire or fire pit and make some s’mores, tell stories, play guitar and enjoy the stars. Find a spot in your backyard, or a local park to get out and enjoy the evenings.

5. After-dinner walks

With several big meals in the future, consider taking a walk to help digest the meals. It’s a great way to connect with family and friends who are visiting and were at the other end of the dinner table that you didn’t get a chance to talk with yet. Find your local recreation path, a loop through the park or a jaunt in the woods, but consider eating dinner a little early and taking a group walk after dinner, don’t worry about the dishes until you get back.

Roam for the Holidays | Photo: Adam Wells

6. Dinner outside

Feeling adventurous? Live in a more temperate climate? If the weather allows, have the meal outside. Have you ever BBQ’d a turkey? (It’s delicious). Gather family and friends around a table and serve your dinner outside. Stressed about the logistics? Just set up the food serving inside but have the table for eating outside. Eating outdoors offers an opportunity to slow down and reconnect with both your food and nature.

7. Family Fun Games

Have a big family? Set up a Thanksgiving Fun Games in the yard. Create and play 3-4 different games/ activities for a day filled with family fun. From pie eating contests, to hide and seek and running races for the kids, there is always something that can get turned into an exciting activity for everyone to have fun.

Holidays and time spent with family are a great way to begin new traditions and challenge each other trying something new. Hopefully you are inspired to try and begin a new Thanksgiving tradition this year, I know I am! 

Cover photo: Jess Curren

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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