16 Things To Do Over Thanksgiving Weekend In San Francisco

Jamie Ferrell Jamie Ferrell

16 Things To Do Over Thanksgiving Weekend In San Francisco

Looking for some fun activities to do post-turkey? San Francisco has plenty of events, activities, and fun spots to hit up during the long weekend of November 25-28. Scroll through for some essential things to check out and kick off the holiday season.

1. Sign up for a Thanksgiving-day Turkey Trot

Need to get your blood pumping before eating your weight in stuffing? Consider registering for a Bay Area Turkey Trot! Unfortunately San Francisco’s annual race has been canceled, but you can still register for many others in neighboring cities. Scroll down on the SF Turkey Trot website for a great list they’ve compiled of nearby races.

2. Get your skate on at these awesome rinks

Photo by Kirk McCoy. Courtesy of Meritage Resort & Spa

It’s that time of year! Plenty of Bay Area ice rinks are open and already hosting fun events. Here are a few of our favorites:

3. Go for a brisk autumn walk around the city

Take this as your friendly reminder to get your steps in! San Francisco is full of endless places to explore, and in a city like this it’s essential to enjoy the little things. Here are a few of our favorite walking spots:

  • Salesforce Park
  • Lyon Street Steps, Pacific Heights
  • McLaren Park
  • Golden Gate Park
  • Great Highway

4. Enjoy a breathtaking local hike

Perhaps you’re feeling a little more ambitious and looking for a killer hike with great views? You’ll love these incredible hikes for a chance to stretch your legs. Here are some of the best:

  • Lands End Trail
  • Gerbode Valley Loop Trail
  • Cataract Falls
  • Mori Point
  • Mount Diablo

5. Check out the Exploratorium’s GLOW light art exhibition

SF is already starting to feel the holiday spirit! The Exploratorium has announced the return of GLOW: Discover the Art of Light in all its 2021 glory. See brand new and expanded installations, created by 8 local artists. These light art pieces will be up from November 18 until January 30, 2022 at the Exploratorium at Pier 15.

6. See the first lighting ceremony for SF’s giant Union Square menorah

Photo by Thomas Hawk via Flickr

The Bill Graham Menorah Project is gearing up for their 46th annual giant menorah lighting and display! A 25-foot menorah will go up in Union Square from November 28 until December 6.

On November 28 you can enjoy fun activities, food, music and more from 2-6pm! This celebration will accompany the first lighting ceremony at 4:45pm. Enjoy a variety of kids’ crafts and shows, food from Jerry’s Kosher Deli, music from Saul Kaye, and performances from Ari Lesser.

7. Check out the Nob Hill Tree Lighting Ceremony and other events at Grace Cathedral

Courtesy of Grace Cathedral

As if Grace Cathedral wasn’t iconic enough, they are pulling out all the stops for the holiday season! Here’s what’s happening there on Thanksgiving weekend:

  • World Tree of Hope Installation (Nov 27, 28): Grace Cathedral is home to the largest origami Christmas tree in the world! They partner with Rainbow World Fund to decorate it with over 17,000 handmade origami cranes and stars, each of which is inscribed with wishes and hopes for the future. You can send your wish to be inscribed on a crane for free and added to the tree. They’re accepting volunteers to help trim the tree, and you can see the installation process throughout November. The tree will be lighted on December 6 and stay there until January 7.
  • Advent wreath making workshop (Nov 28): A family wreath-making event, materials provided.
  • Nob Hill lighting ceremony (Nov 29): The 50th consecutive tree lighting ceremony will take place at Huntington Park outside of the cathedral. See the outside trees and gardens illuminated with thousands of beautiful lights, while enjoying music from the French American Jazz Quartet and food from local hotels.

8. Visit a craft fair, festival, or holiday market

Ross Sneddon via Unsplash

We’ve rounded up a list of fun craft fairs, artsy events, and holiday markets coming up. Here’s what’s going on Thanksgiving weekend:

  • SF Fashion Festival: Nov 26, 2-7pm at Executive Order, 868 Mission St
  • Modern Makers Festival – Patchwork Show: Nov 27, 10am-4pm at Westfield San Francisco Centre (Level 4)

9. Take an epic journey on a vintage train

Courtesy of Napa Valley Wine Train

Escape to another era on these gorgeous vintage locomotives, many of which are decked out for the holidays.


  • Napa Valley Wine Train: Take a trip through rolling vineyards in wine country while enjoying gourmet food and the best wines in California, all on a gorgeous vintage train with plush chairs, brass accents, glass etchings and lux tableware.
  • Roaring Camp Steam TrainsWant to enjoy California’s beautiful redwood forests, without having to don hiking boots? This steam train from Roaring Camp is an absolute must! Hop on this authentic train from 1890 for an open-air trip through the redwoods! Roaring Camp also offers a train route to Santa Cruz, where you’ll ride alongside the shore for some beautiful ocean views.

10. Drive through this sparkling winter wonderland in San Jose

Christmas in the Park is back this year! Starting November 26, San Jose will be decked out in tens of thousands of sparkling lights. Blinky’s Illuminated Holiday is their beloved drive-thru experience, where guests can take a trip through a magical glowing winter wonderland. There will also be a tree lighting and other events at Cesar Chavez Plaza.

11. Explore the dazzling Garden of D’Lights in Walnut Creek

Via Ruth Bancroft Garden

The Ruth Bancroft Garden has rolled out its whimsical Garden of d’Lights holiday event! Each year, they deck out the plants with multicolored lights, lasers, and more, transforming the already spectacular 3.5 acre space into an otherworldly outdoor adventure. Guests can stroll through the beautiful glowing gardens for 1-1.5 hours to discover countless photo ops and exciting displays.

12. Honor the Indigenous Peoples of America at this sunrise gathering on Alcatraz

Jubileejourney, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Indians of All Tribes organization occupied Alcatraz Island from 1969-1971, citing a treaty by which the government promised the return of abandoned federal land to the tribes from whom it was originally taken. Although the movement failed, it is commemorated each year with a sunrise gathering on Thanksgiving Day. The ticket booth opens at 3am with ferries departing from 4:15am-6am. Learn more about Alcatraz here.

13. See thousands of monarch butterflies at these nearby overwintering spots

Noradoa via Shutterstock

They’re back! After last year’s record low monarch butterfly population count of just 1,914, it seems nothing short of a miracle that preliminary 2021 estimations are already reaching 20,000. At many places along the coast, you can see thousands of butterflies congregating together at overwintering sites due to the fact that they can’t fly well at temperatures below 55 degrees. If you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of this fascinating phenomenon, consider visiting these monarch butterfly hotspots.

14. Satisfy your sweet tooth at these 10 superb bakeries

San Franciscans with a sweet tooth have it easy in this glorious city, because SF bakeries absolutely do not mess around. We wanted to get to the bottom of where San Franciscans get their baked goods, so we posted an Instagram poll asking for recommendations. In the end, here are some of the highest-recommended bakeries in the city.

  • B. Patisserie
  • Arsicault Bakery
  • Jane the Bakery
  • Le Marais Bakery

15. Sip your way through these 10 awesome cocktail bars

It’s never a bad time to discover an amazing new bar in the city, whether it has excellent craft cocktails, a unique ambience, stellar service, or an awesome view. We wanted to discover the best cocktail bars in San Francisco, so we posted a poll on our Instagram asking for suggestions! Our followers never disappoint, and here are some of the best ones.

  • The Interval
  • Peacekeeper
  • Bourbon & Branch
  • Trick Dog
  • Whitechapel

16. 10 essential places to enjoy decadent hot chocolate in SF

You don’t have to be a kid to know that hot chocolate is one of the most underrated drinks on any cafe’s menu. As we head into the fall and winter seasons, it’s a great time to compile some spots to visit next time you’re craving this delicious drink! Discover everything from indulgent dark chocolate drinks, to spiked adult beverages, to your classic on-the-go treat. Stay warm and enjoy!

  • Dandelion Chocolate
  • La Oaxaqueña
  • Tosca Cafe
  • Recchiuti Confections


Featured image: Courtesy of Grace Cathedral

Secret Guides Things To Do