Houston is an incredible place to spend Thanksgiving. There is a real sense of community spirit just buzzing around this vibrant city throughout the year, but not more so than during the big holidays.
Many of the winter lights have already been turned on in Houston by the time Thanksgiving comes around, making for a real festive atmosphere.
So if you are searching for exciting things to do in Houston on Thanksgiving day, grab your scarf, finish that pumpkin-spiced latte, and get ready to throw yourself into the Thanksgiving entertainment on offer.
Exciting Things to Do in Houston During Thanksgiving
I have included in this guide some really noteworthy, exciting events that are happening in Houston’s streets, parks, and restaurants to give you a good, well-rounded guide that includes something for everyone.
From large parties and family gatherings to activities better suited to a couple, there are a handful of options that are fun to attend as an alternative to spending the holiday alone. You might even make some new friends.
Finally, a note on pricing: I have included the standard ticket prices within the guide. Please take into account any extras you may wish to purchase during the day if you are working within a budget, such as parking, drinks, and donations.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the most exciting places in Houston to spend Thanksgiving!
1. Thanksgiving Day Parade
|Address||Smith Street, Downtown Houston|
|Time||From 9 am|
|Any alternate dates||No|
What could be more traditional and entertaining for the entire family than heading to Houston’s annual Thanksgiving Day Parade?
The parade has been part of the city’s Thanksgiving tradition for seventy-three years and still pulls in crowds of thousands wanting to celebrate the holiday with fellow Houstonians. It is one of the longest-running Thanksgiving parades in the country.
The elaborately decorated floats, booming marching bands, and colorful balloon displays will make their way through twenty blocks, with plenty of food stalls and pop-up bars to entice you along the journey.
To make the parade even more of an entertaining prospect, why not sign up to participate with family and friends for one of the most memorable Thanksgiving experiences ever?
If you want to take part in the parade itself, you can apply online. Alternatively, why not give back to the community and apply to be a parade volunteer?
2. BakerRipley Houston Turkey Trot
|Address||4925 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77056|
|Ticket Price||$15.00 for children and seniors / $35.00 5k adults / $40.00 10k adults|
|Time||Various start times from 6 am|
|Any alternate dates||No|
BakerRipley is a nonprofit organization that has been supporting the people of Houston for more than a century – Since 1907, to be exact!
They strive to deliver holistic group programs and services in sixty locations around Texas. Their annual turkey trot is suitable for all ages and abilities to take part, with different start times to suit all participants.
Registration and packet pick-up open at 6 am, with the first racers beginning at 7.25 am. The first group to set off is wheelchair participants for the 10k race, followed at 7.30 am by the rest of the 10k runners. Wheelchair 5k racers will set off at 7.55 am, followed by the rest of the 5k runners at 8 am. The kid’s race will begin at 9 am.
All participants will receive a shirt, bib, commemorative turkey trot medal, and entry to an amazing post-race party. There will be a water spot located each mile for comfort, as well as there being medical support provided throughout the race. Race photos will be posted online after the event, which can be purchased.
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3. Lightscape at Houston Botanic Garden
|Address||1 Botanic Lane, Houston, TX 77017|
|Ticket Price||Children under 2 free / Children over 2 $21.00 / Adults $31.00|
|General admission Ticket Price on Thanksgiving day||$8.00 for children / $12.50 for adults.|
|Time||From 5.30 pm - 8.30 pm for lightscape. General admission 9 am - 2 pm|
|Any alternate dates||Lightscape is running from 18th November until 1st January|
During the winter, Houston’s Botanic Garden becomes a wonderland of lights, music, and entertainment for the entire family to enjoy. There are fire pits dotted around the stunning lit gardens where you can enjoy s’mores and magnificent backdrops for stunning photographs to be taken.
The lightscape show will not take place on Thanksgiving day; however, general admission will still be available until 2 pm where you can see the incredible light structures shining against the glistening winter sun.
Related: The Best Christmas Lights in Houston
4. Thanksgiving Buffet at Houston Downtown Aquarium
|Address||410 Bagby St, Houston, TX 77002|
|Ticket Price||Children under 10 $20.00 / Children over 10 and adults $49.00 / Seniors $39.00|
|Time||From 3 pm - 8.30 pm|
|Any alternate dates||No|
If you are looking for somewhere a little bit edgy and different to enjoy an exciting Thanksgiving dinner, why not take a look at Houston Downtown Aquarium? At the aquarium, you will find a wonderfully untraditional Thanksgiving buffet with omelet stations, freshly carved meats, fabulous fresh seafood, pasta dishes, and an immense selection of desserts.
The feat will take place in the aquarium ballroom, complete with live music and a few surprises along the way.
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5. Geronimo Adventure Park
|Address||6749 Farm to Market 2920, Spring, TX 77379|
|Ticket Price||$124.99 full day all access pass per person|
|Time||First entry 12 pm, last entry 2 pm|
|Any alternate dates||Open all year|
Geronimo Adventure Park is one of the few amusement parks open on Thanksgiving day. What could offer a more thrilling Thanksgiving experience than soaring through the sky on one of the park’s three immense zip-lines, each with different obstacles and tricky elements to maneuver yourself around.
The park also has a good variety of rock climbing walls to practice your skills, as well as axe throwing areas which are a perfect place for a bit of family competition. The entire site is pristine, with a fantastic team of knowledgeable, friendly, high-energy staff to keep you entertained throughout your day.
Bonus Read: Adventurous Things To Do in Houston
6. Magical Winter Lights Lantern Festival Baytown
|Address||2525 FM 565, Baytown, TX 77523|
|Ticket Price||$10.00 per car / $20.00 for VIP parking|
|Time||From 5 pm - 10 pm|
|Any alternate dates||The event runs from 19th November until 2nd January, including holidays|
If you are able to travel out of Houston during Thanksgiving, why not head over to Baytown, where you can enjoy the largest holiday light display in the United States?
The light festival includes over one-hundred individual lantern sets spread across eight sections of the park, each with its own uniquely mystifying theme.
The Kingdom is a world of dreamy, colorful, vibrant lights brimming with childlike imagination formed from cutting-edge light art shadowed by a royal castle.
The Village has been perfectly inspired by the quirky Christmas markets of small European villages. This is where the festival’s show-stopping gigantic lit Christmas tree stands proud – the perfect spot for snapping a selfie or group shot with friends.
The Dinosaur Kingdom is unmatched for wowing the kids. Their jaws will drop as they lay their little eyes upon the amazing life-size prehistoric dinosaurs, fabulously lit with fluorescent colors. This area also has some kids’ play equipment, such as slides and roarsome photo props.
Houston is quite literally a tribute to the fabulous city of Houston, featuring one-of-a-kind structures built as a homage to the magnificent Houston skyline.
Space is another area inspired by the Houston Space Center that has been constructed to celebrate Apollo 11, complete with a space maze, space wall, and UFOs.
The Ice is the most mesmerizing section of the park, inspired by a well-loved 2013 animated musical about two sisters, one who has magical ice powers! This whimsical wonderland is home to beautiful penguin structures, atmospheric snow-topped trees, and a glorious ice unicorn carriage.
The Sea takes you to an underwater paradise adorned with a magnificent brightly lit coral reef. You will also find a mermaid area and an interactive giant shark mouth for more picture opportunities.
Carnival is a fantastic place to enjoy sticky, traditional fairground food such as popcorn and funnel cakes and thrilling rides, including an 87-foot tall Ferris wheel.
This really is one of the most magical, entertaining, and fun places to spend Thanksgiving with the people you love.
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7. Turner’s Traditional Thanksgiving
|Address||1800 Post Oak Blvd. Entrance on Ambassador Way, Houston, TX 77056|
|Ticket Price||$250.00 per person|
|Time||1 pm and 5 pm|
|Any alternate dates||No|
For one of the most elegant Thanksgiving experiences that is certain to excite anyone who adores the idea of being a VIP for the day, you must consider Turner’s Traditional Thanksgiving.
This may also entice any Downton Abbey, The Crown, or Bridgerton fans who want to immerse themselves in a lavish afternoon filled with exquisite food, fine wine, and delicate piano music.
The price tag for this event is slightly eye-watering; however, included in the $250.00 ticket, you will receive a white-gloved, old-fashioned, traditional experience.
The afternoon is complete with champagne on arrival, gourmet appetizers, decadent hors d’oeuvres, and delicious entrée with a glorious selection of unlimited sides; all served in an intimate dining room.
The feat will finish with artisan cheese and a pleasing assortment of no less than six delicious desserts. During the meal, there will be live music by a professional pianist on the dining room’s baby grand piano.
This event is not suitable for children; diners are to be over the age of eighteen. This is the best way I can imagine spending a romantic Thanksgiving with that special someone.
See Also: The Best Romantic Restaurants in Houston
8. Thanksgiving at The Farm at The Historic Hill House and Farm
|Address||3603 FM1725, Willis, TX 77378|
|Ticket Price||Children $30.00 / Adults $65.00|
|Time||12 pm, 2 pm, 4 pm, and 6 pm|
|Any alternate dates||No|
If you are looking for a traditional, authentic Thanksgiving to transport you back in time to the real meaning of the holiday, where could be better than a 19th-century antique barn set within acres of magnificent farmland?
The traditional feat is sure to excite diners of all ages with traditional dishes on offer, such as roast turkey, cornbread stuffing, and candied yams, alongside a few new favorites like quinoa salad and garlic whipped mashed potatoes.
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9. Thanksgiving Weekend Pass at Kemah Boardwalk Galveston Island
|Address||2501 Seawall Blvd, Galveston, TX 77550|
|Ticket Price||$39.99 per person for four days|
|Any alternate dates||Pass covers the 24th - 27th of November|
For an entire Thanksgiving weekend filled with excitement, thrilling rides, fresh seafood, and magical lights, all for a pretty reasonable price, why not take a mini break on Galveston Island and enjoy the festivities on Kemah Boardwalk?
The boardwalk is only forty minutes away from Houston by car and is totally worth the journey if you need to fill a few days with the family.
This is one of the country’s premier boardwalks, and the entire strip will be open all over the Thanksgiving weekend, including all the arcades, amusements, restaurants, and shops. There are also sixteen amusement rides within the area, all of which are priced at around $6 per person.
There are plenty of places to camp around the area if you are on a tight budget; alternatively, there is a hotel on the boardwalk itself called The Kemah Boardwalk Inn. Rooms at The Kemah Boardwalk Inn start from $149 per night and are suitable for two adults and one child. For a larger suite to accommodate two adults and two children, prices start from $179.00.
To Sum Up…
So, where will you head for your Thanksgiving festivities this year?
I hope that this guide will have helped you to create a shortlist of where to consider spending Thanksgiving in Houston.
If you want to see what other holiday events Houston offers, you might want to check out our guide to Halloween Events and Parties in Houston 2022.