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Things To Do With Kids in Los Angeles During Thanksgiving Week 2023 (Besides Eating)

Updated for 2023

Are you looking for fun things to do in Los Angeles during Thanksgiving week? The kids are off school, family may be coming into town, and you’ve got a lot of days to fill.

Luckily, there is always something fun to do in and around LA. And Thanksgiving week, there are so many great ways for families to help out, volunteer, and make it a better holiday for others.  

If you’re going to be working this week, read our list of Thanksgiving Camps in Los Angeles.

spider photo at _pavillion_natural history museum 2020
Spider Pavilion, photo courtesy of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles

Things To Do Every Day of Thanksgiving Week

Saturday, November 18

Surfing Santa Competition
Salt Creek Beach
33333 Pacific Coast Hwy, Dana Point, CA 

Ready for an only-in-L.A.-event? Then head to Dana Point for the Surfing Santa Competition happening on Saturday, November 18th. This special event benefits Surfers Healing, “the original surf camp for children with autism.” Contestants will be dressed as Santa or other holiday-inspired characters as they participate in a surfing and stand-up paddle board competition. The event is free for spectators to attend. Check the website for more details as they become available.

Surfing Santa
Surfing Santa, photo courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel

Seal Beach Turkey Trot
Start and Finish on Main St., Seal Beach, CA

The Seal Beach Turkey Trot is happening on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, November 18th. There is a 5K and 10K Run/Walk option, a 5K Gym Challenge option, and a 1K Kids “Don’t Be a Turkey” Trot (for kids 10 and younger). The Seal Beach Turkey Trot has partnered with two charities, Grateful Hearts and Project SEEK. The Seal Beach Turkey Trot’s goal is to “donate over 300-holiday meals for families in need” and to “raise funds for our local schools.” Registration information is available online. 

5th Annual Hollywood Pow Wow
Ovation Hollywood – Center Courtyard
6801 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90028

Ovation Hollywood is hosting the 5th Annual Hollywood Pow Wow on Saturday, November 18th from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. “The event will feature traditional singing, dancing and youth performances from numerous tribes around the country.” (The Pow Wow is a part of the 17th Annual LA SKINS FEST, a Native American film festival, taking place from November 14th – November 19th. Details are available online.)

31st Annual Festival of Lights
The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa
3649 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside, CA 

“The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa’s Festival of Lights is one of the nation’s largest holiday light collections.” Seeing and experiencing the Festival of Lights is an annual tradition for many families. This year’s Opening Ceremony is happening earlier than usual, on November 18th, and “The Inn’s holiday merriment will be celebrated until Sunday, January 7th, 2024.” 

Sunday, November 19

Rooftop Cinema Club: Home Alone
1310 E. Franklin Ave., El Segundo, CA 90245

Rooftop Cinema Club El Segundo is screening the always-popular movie Home Alone on Sunday, November 19th at 1:00 pm Refreshments and concession stand favorites are available for purchase on-site. Tickets are available online. (The movie is rated PG.)

2023 Winter Fantasy
935 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Drive down to Laguna Beach for the 33rd Annual Winter Fantasy. “Winter Fantasy is a one-of-a-kind holiday art festival that offers a festive, unique shopping experience in an enchanting winter wonderland with thousands of lights and decorations.” Additionally, there will be three stages of live music, puppeteers, art classes, more than one hundred artists offering handcrafted gifts, visits with Santa Claus, and more. Check the website for details and ticket information. (Families can visit the Sawdust Festival Annual Winter Fantasy for five three-day weekends, between Friday, November 17th through Sunday, December 17th.) 

Sunday Rides
The Zimmerman Automobile Driving Museum
610 Lairport St., El Segundo, CA 90245

The Zimmerman Automobile Driving Museum is a fun place to take family visiting from out-of-town. Each Sunday, from 10:00 am to 3:30 pm, visitors can take a ride with one of the Museum’s experienced drivers in one of the Museum’s cars! Sunday Rides are first-come, first-served, and riders must be at least 55” to ride. Details are available online. 

Kids Storytime: Composting for Community with Michael Martinez
Village Well Books & Coffee
9900 Culver Blvd. #1B, Culver City, CA 90232

Village Well Books & Coffee invites families to a special kids story time on Sunday, November 19th from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm. Michael Martinez, the founder of LA Compost and a former elementary school teacher, will be reading his children’s book Composting for Community

Monday, November 20

Spider Pavilion
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
900 Exposition Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90007

If you haven’t yet been, you don’t want to miss the chance to visit the Natural History Museum’s Spider Pavilion, a “one-of-a-kind seasonal pavilion.” (It closes in just a few days on Sunday, November 26th.) Stroll through the open-air pavilion and marvel at the many different spiders and their intricate webs. Timed tickets are available online.  

Winter Frolic
Kidspace Children’s Museum
480 N. Arroyo Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91103

From Friday, November 10th through Sunday, January 7th, 2024, Kidspace Children’s Museum invites families to experience Winter Frolic. Winter Frolic is a “joyful space for children to explore, play, and create while sharing the magic of the season with their families.” The fun includes a Sock Skating Rink, “ice fishing,” fun with a life-size no-melt snowman, and much more. Winter Frolic activities, with the exception of the Sock Skating Rink (which is $5 per person), are included in general admission. Details and tickets are available online.

LA Auto Show
Los Angeles Convention Center
1201 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90015

Families who like cars will want to spend some time at the LA Auto Show. Check out the Kevin Hart Collection (featuring 10 of his favorite custom-built favorites, all exhibited in one place for the first time), explore some of the newest automobile innovations, take a free test drive, enjoy special kid-friendly activities, and much more. Details and tickets are available online. The LA Auto Show runs from Friday, November 17th through Sunday, November 26th.) 

Drone Flying Experience for Tweens and Teens
Sylmar Branch Library
14561 Polk St., Sylmar, CA 91342

If your kids have ever been curious about drones and how they work, you’ll want to visit the Sylmar Branch Library (a part of the Los Angeles Public Library System) on Monday, November 20th from 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm. Drones4Kids will be on hand to “teach us how to fly drones, using a remote control to maneuver drones through an obstacle course.” All participants five and older will get a chance to fly a drone. 

Tuesday, November 21

South Coast Botanic Garden
26300 Crenshaw Blvd., Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA 90274

South Coast Botanic Garden, known as “The Jewel of the Peninsula,” offers free admission on the third Tuesday of each month. Take a stroll through the Garden’s 87 acres, and enjoy the Banyan Grove, the Desert Garden, and the Fuchsia Garden, to name just a few of the areas you’ll see here. Also, be sure to allow plenty of time to marvel at Thomas Dambo TROLLS: Save the Humans, at the Garden through Sunday, January 14th, 2024. Tickets are available online. 

Pershing Square Holiday Ice Skating
532 S. Olive St., Los Angeles, CA 90013

Pershing Square Holiday Ice Skating is back this year and opens Thursday, November 16th. “Surrounded by art, lively activity and the impressive city skyline, our outdoor ice rink lets you enjoy entertainment and ice skating in Los Angeles under the sun and stars.” Tickets and details are available online. (The rink will be open daily through Sunday, January 7th, 2024.)

In-Person Storytime 
Rancho Los Cerritos
4600 Virginia Rd., Long Beach, CA 90807

Rancho Los Cerritos hosts a children’s storytime each Tuesday morning from 10:00 am to 10:30 am. Storytime is held outside, under the shade of the California Native Garden trees, and is free to attend. Families are welcome to bring blankets and snacks and get comfortable as you listen to volunteers and staff read from diverse authors. You can reserve your spot online. 

Enchanted Forest of Light
Descanso Gardens
1418 Descanso Dr., La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011

Make plans to visit Enchanted Forest of Light at Descanso Gardens. If you’re not familiar with it, Enchanted Forest of Light is an “interactive, nighttime experience” featuring a “one-mile walk through unique lighting experiences in some of the most beloved areas of Descanso Gardens.” This is a rain or shine event. Tickets must be purchased in advance and are available online. (Enchanted Forest of Light opens Sunday, November 19th and continues through Sunday, January 7th, 2024, 5:30 pm to 10:00 pm each night. Enchanted is closed on November 23rd and December 24th-25th.)

Wednesday, November 22

Big Sunday’s 12th Annual Thanksgiving Stuffing Event
Baldwin Hills Elementary School
5421 Obama Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90016

Big Sunday’s Annual Thanksgiving Stuffing Event is happening on Wednesday, November 22nd from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm. “Our goal is to assemble 3,500 bags full of delicious food for hungry and grateful people all over town.” There will also be a community breakfast – with music – for all volunteers. There are many ways for families to volunteer including making cards for the bags, assembling the bags, hosting a collection of food items, and sponsoring a bag. All details, including registration information, are available online. 

Thanksgiving Celebration
Pretend City Children’s Museum

29 Hubble, Irvine, CA 92618

Join Pretend City’s Thanksgiving Celebration on Wednesday, November 22nd. “Join us in giving thanks and savoring moments of gratitude.” Check the website for more details as they become available. All activities are included in general admission. Tickets are available online.

1101 W. McKinley Ave., Pomona, CA

With Imaginarium, the Fairplex is transformed into “the Largest Holiday and Fantasyland Light Show in Southern California.” Wander through the rose garden, complete with over 35,000 LED roses. Stroll through an enchanted forest, where you’ll find 25 colossal storybook creatures. Imaginarium features a nightly synchronized music and lights show, 1.5 miles packed with millions of lights, a 3x Daily Circus (included with admission), Infinity Mirror Rooms and Interactive Game Experiences, and more. Imaginarium will be at Fairplex on select days from Friday, November 17th through Sunday, January 7th, 2024. Tickets are available online. 

L.A. Zoo Lights: Animals Aglow 
Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens
5333 Zoo Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90027

Make plans to visit the L.A. Zoo for its annual special event, L.A. Zoo Lights: Animals Aglow. “Explore an immersive landscape filled with dazzling new lantern sculptures of animals among blooming flowers, towering trees, and more, for a nature-focused holiday celebration that’s as inspiring as it is breathtaking.” More information, including ticket prices and special themed nights are available online. L.A. Zoo Lights will be at the Zoo from Friday, November 17th through Sunday, January 7, 2024.

Thursday, November 23 (Thanksgiving)

2020 Burbank YMCA turkey trot

Drumstick Dash 2023
NoHo Arts District
Race Starts at 11275 Chandler Blvd., North Hollywood, CA

Described as “LA’s largest Thanksgiving 5K/10K run,” Drumstick Dash is happening on Thanksgiving morning. “Move your feet so others can eat!” In addition to the run, the fun also includes freebies, a costume contest, and a Lil’ Gobblers Race for younger participants. All proceeds “will help Hope the Mission provide over two million hot meals to homeless men, women and children.” You can find all the details as well as registration information online. 

A Gentle Thanksgiving: A Pre-Meal Celebration of Turkeys
The Gentle Barn
15825 Sierra Hwy, Santa Clarita, CA 91390

The Gentle Barn hosts a Pre-Meal Celebration of Turkeys on Thursday, November 23rd from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. Families will enjoy “vegan pie, hot autumn drinks, music, games, crafts and, of course, — visiting with our majestic turkeys.” Capacity is limited; reservations may be made online.  

Thanksgiving Lunch
Aquarium of the Pacific
100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach, CA 90802

“Come gobble gobble with the Aquarium’s sea otters, puffins, and other animals” for a special Thanksgiving meal. The Aquarium’s Thanksgiving Feast will feature a traditional spread served buffet style. Reservations are available hourly (between 11:00 am and 4:00 pm) on the Aquarium’s Rooftop Veranda, overlooking Rainbow Harbor. Reservations may be made online. 

Turkey Trot Los Angeles
Starts and Finishes at City Hall
200 N. Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90012

The annual Turkey Trot Los Angeles supports The Midnight Mission, an organization dedicated to helping those struggling with homelessness. There are 5K or 10K walk or run options,  as well as a “Widdle Wobble” for those 12 and under, and a one-mile dog jog. Races have staggered start times on Thanksgiving morning. Details and registration information are available online.

Check out our post Run, Gobble, Repeat: 12 SoCal Turkey Trots for Thanksgiving for more information about other Turkey Trots happening this year.

Friday, November 24

Holiday Lights Train Ride
Griffith Park & Southern Railroad
4400 Crystal Springs Dr., Los Angeles, CA 

The Holiday Lights Train Ride in Griffith Park begins on Friday, November 24th and continues until Sunday, January 7th, 2024. The mile-long track is “transformed into a magical train ride of delightful and festive scenes with thousands of lights.” In addition to the lights and train ride, families will also find a holiday gift kiosk and three winter-themed, open-air photo areas. Details and ticket information are available online.

The Egyptian Book of the Dead
Getty Villa
17985 Pacific Coast Hwy, Pacific Palisades, CA 

Avoid the busy shopping centers and head to the Getty Villa on Friday, November 24th to see one of their newest exhibitions, The Egyptian Book of the Dead. “Among their rigorous preparations for eternity, ancient Egyptians developed an intricate set of religious writings to help the deceased achieve a blessed afterlife in union with the solar god Re  and the netherworld god Osiris.” These rituals were collectively known as the Book of the Dead. “This exhibition features the Getty’s Book of the Dead manuscripts, which have never been on public view.” Admission is free, though a timed-entry reservation is required and is available online. 

Dog Man: The Musical
Kirk Douglas Theatre
9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232

If your children enjoy Dav Pilkey’s Dog Man series of books, then you’ll have to get tickets for Dog Man: The Musical. The musical adventure follows the “chronicles of Dog Man, who with the head of a dog and the body of a policeman, loves to fight crime and chew on the furniture.” The performance is 90 minutes long, with one intermission. Tickets are available online. Dog Man: The Musical will be at the Kirk Douglas Theatre from Tuesday, November 21st through Sunday, January 7th, 2024. 

WinterFest OC
OC Fair and Event Center
88 Fair Dr., Costa Mesa, CA 92626

“Winter Fest OC is a celebration that brings the magic of winter to Southern California, creating an immersive experience that will leave you captivated and filled with wonder.” Families will enjoy a winter wonderland featuring over a million lights, a snow play area, a 150-foot ice tubing slide, holiday market, festive food, and much more. Families can visit Winter Fest on select days from Friday, November 24th through Sunday, January 7th, 2024. Tickets are available online. 

Saturday, November 25

Small Business Saturday
Multiple Locations throughout Los Angeles

Shop locally and celebrate Small Business Saturday on Saturday, November 25th. If you need some ideas to get you started check out our post “10 Made-in-Los Angeles Gift Ideas” and “Best Independent Toy Shops In And Around Los Angeles.”

Bowers’ Books for Kids: Storytime in the Galleries
Bowers Museum
2002 N. Main St., Santa Ana, CA 92706

Bowers Museum hosts Bowers’ Books for Kids: Storytime in the Galleries on Saturday, November 25th from 10:30 am to 12:00 pm. Tongva author Cindi M. Alvitre will be reading her children’s book, Waa’aka’: The Bird Who Fell in Love with the Sun. Following the reading will be a simple, fun art project for the kiddos. RSVP online. 

Family Matinee: Moana – Accommodative Screening
Academy Museum of Motion Pictures
6067 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036

The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is hosting a Family Matinee showing of Dinsey’s Moana on Saturday, November 25th at 11:00 am. “The Oscar-nominated, computer-animated adventure is based on Polynesian myths.”  The accommodative screening includes open captioning, keeping the theater dimly lit, and maintaining a lower volume. Tickets are available online. (The movie is rated PG.)

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Holiday Show
El Portal Theatre
5269 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Holiday Show brings to life Eric Carle’s timeless classic, featuring “a menagerie of over 75 magical puppets.” Alongside The Very Hungry Caterpillar, the theatrical show features three other classic Eric Carle stories including Brown Bear, Brown Bear, 10 Little Ducks, and Dream Snow. “These beloved tales and their messages of community, self-expression, and the power of creativity are brought to life by a captivating cast of storytellers, sweeping original music, and stunning puppetry.” Performances begin Saturday, November 25th and continue (on select days) through Sunday, January 21st, 2024. Tickets are available online. 

Sunday, November 26

Outdoor Holiday Market
Cabrillo Marine Aquarium
3720 Stephen M. White Dr., San Pedro, CA 90731

Visit the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium on Sunday, November 26th from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm to check out their Outdoor Holiday Market. The annual event features local artists and artisans selling a variety of wares including jewelry, recycled and upcycled sea debris, children’s items, pottery, and more. Be sure to also check out the CMA Gift Shop as part of Museum Store Sunday, “a holiday shopping day that recognizes the value of buying gifts at museum stores where purchases directly benefit a good cause.”  

Rooftop Cinema Club Arts District: Frozen
777 S. Alameda St., Los Angeles, CA 

Rooftop Cinema Club Arts District is celebrating the 10th anniversary of Frozen with an outdoor screening on Sunday, November 26th at 1:45 pm. Refreshments and concession stand favorites are available for purchase on-site. Tickets are available online. (The movie is rated PG.)

Los Feliz Flea Holiday Market and
Western Music Showcase
The Autry Museum in Griffith Park
4700 Western Heritage Way, Los Angeles, CA 90027

The Los Feliz Flea Holiday Market is being held at The Autry on Sunday, November 26th from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm. The Holiday Market features local artists, more than two hundred vendors offering a wide variety of items (including collectibles, clothing, jewelry, and more), live music, on-site food trucks, and special activities for children. And while you’re at The Autry, you’ll enjoy the sounds of the Western Music Showcase from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm. “Contemporary Western Music pays homage to historic ‘Cowboy’ music and brings in the stories and lifestyles of the larger populations of today’s West.” These are both free events which do not include Museum admission.  

The 91st Hollywood Christmas Parade
Hollywood Blvd., Vine St., and Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, CA

The 91st Hollywood Christmas Parade is happening on Sunday, November 26th at 6:00 pm and features marching bands, equestrian units, live performances, giant balloons, celebrity sightings, and much more. Check the website for ticket information.  

Wendy Kennar is a mother, writer, and former teacher who has lived her entire life in the same Los Angeles zip code. You can read more from Wendy at her website where she writes about books, boys, and bodies (living with an invisible disability).

MomsLA is your source for Things to do with Kids in Los Angeles

Disclaimer: MomsLA has made every effort to confirm the information in this article; however, things can often change. Therefore, MomsLA makes no representations or warranties about the accuracy of the information published here. MomsLA strongly urges you to confirm any event details, like date, time, location, and admission, with the third party hosting the event. You assume the sole risk of relying on any of the information in our list. MomsLA is in no way responsible for any injuries or damages you sustain while attending any third-party event posted on our website. Please read our Terms of Use which you have agreed to based on your continued use of this website. Some events have paid to be listed on MomsLA.

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