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Are you spending Thanksgiving in Boston this year? Whether you’re flying solo or have the whole family in tow, there are tons of fun things to do and places to enjoy a delicious Thanksgiving meal.
From restaurants that are open on Thanksgiving in Boston to turkey trots, events, Christmas lights, and holiday shopping, we’ve outlined everything you can do on the day and the whole long weekend.
You might also like our guide to Boston at night for tons more fun suggestions.
Enjoy, and Happy Thanksgiving!
What to Do in Boston on Thanksgiving
Boston Thanksgiving Dinner
If you want Thanksgiving dinner in Boston and you don’t want to do the dishes (totally relatable), then enjoy one of these top spots in the city for a feast without the fuss.
Just make sure you make reservations early!
Many restaurants offer prix fixe menus with wine pairings for a special night out, while others offer more casual options or even take-out so you can bring the feast home to enjoy the food coma on your couch.
Double-check menus, pricing, and reservation availability via the links provided since details can change.
Davio’s offers dine-in and take-out options for a seasonal Thanksgiving meal you won’t want to miss.
For the main event, you can head to the location closest to you and buy a feast to serve at home to impress friends and family.
Check the menus and make reservations or place your order ASAP.
Harvest in Cambridge
A 3-course meal can include turkey and all the trimmings or you can opt for something different from the Thanksgiving prix fixe menu at Harvest in Cambridge.
Get all the menu details and reserve your table on their website.
Contessa’s Rooftop Restaurant
For a Boston Thanksgiving dinner with a view, book a table at Contessa and enjoy the rooftop restaurant setting.
Their holiday menu includes turkey and trimmings with an Italian twist.
Located in The Newbury Hotel, you can stroll the streets to enjoy the pretty architecture after your meal and enjoy easy access to the shops for Black Friday shopping the next day.
Atlantic Fish Co.
Open every day all year round, Atlantic Fish Co. is a reliably delicious meal whatever your preferences.
Don’t let the name fool you — it’s not just seafood!
Turkey is available or you can go for one of their seafood staples for something different.
Make reservations in advance via their website.
Oak Long Bar + Kitchen
Located in the Fairmont Copley Plaza, Oak Long Bar + Kitchen is one of the most popular hotel bars in the city.
The ambiance is perfect for a romantic Boston date night — so why not make it a special Thanksgiving night out?
Check their menus and make your reservations early on their website.
Best Thanksgiving Pies in Boston
Support this awesome annual effort to feed the community with Pie in the Sky, part of a Jamaica Plain-based organization called Community Servings.
Buy pies to support their efforts while feeding your family and friends.
A tradition since the early 1990s, Pie in the Sky has worked with more than 150 Boston area chefs to make countless pies to serve the Greater Boston Area.
You can buy a pie for pick-up on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving from any of the 40 pick-up locations run by fantastic volunteers.
If you’re looking for volunteer opportunities, check the last section of this article!
Thanksgiving Activities in Boston
From things to do on Thanksgiving Day in Boston to various events and special activities you can enjoy throughout the long weekend, here are our top suggestions.
Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker
The day after Thanksgiving, a beloved Boston event begins!
The Boston Ballet performs The Nutcracker each year, bringing holiday magic to the stage for the delight of all ages.
There is even a performance on the night of Thanksgiving.
Get your tickets and enjoy the show on Thanksgiving Weekend in Boston!
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Take the kids to see Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer live on stage at the Shubert Theatre.
With performances all Thanksgiving weekend, you have plenty of options for start times based on your kids’ ages.
Book your tickets and make it a festive event for the whole family!
Watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
While there is no Boston Thanksgiving parade, you can enjoy the NYC festivities from afar.
The 97th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in NYC will air on Thanksgiving morning, so sit back and relax as you enjoy the parade without the crowds or cold!
If you’re still sitting around in a food coma in the afternoon, check out the National Dog Show on TV for more Thanksgiving Day entertainment.
An annual event on Thanksgiving weekend in Downtown Crossing, you’ll want to be there to witness over 100 brass instruments being played by musicians from around the Greater Boston area.
The event starts at noon on the Saturday after Thanksgiving and there is no fee to attend.
Holiday Market at Snowport
Head to the Seaport for a festive beverage as you stroll around the stalls for holiday shopping.
Snowport at the Seaport is one of our favorite Boston Christmas markets.
It’s also one of the longest-running markets, so you can enjoy it before Thanksgiving and through the long holiday weekend!
Note that the market is closed on Thanksgiving Day itself.
5K Franklin Park Turkey Trot
The Franklin Park Turkey Trot is the biggest Thanksgiving 5k in Boston and it’s so much fun to get outside on Thanksgiving morning to run with everyone!
Then you can put your feet up and enjoy all the trimmings.
The race takes place in Dorchester and you can sign up in advance here.
Personal note: I’ve done this turkey trot with my sister — it’s such a fun, well-organized annual event!
Gobble Gobble Gobble 4 Miler in Somerville
Tackle a slightly longer challenge in Davis Square in Somerville at their annual Gobble Gobble Gobble 4 Miler.
The race is Thanksgiving morning and you can sign up in advance here.
Visit Santa in the City
Take the kids to see Santa Claus at the Prudential Center starting the day after Thanksgiving.
Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday until Christmas, you can spread the holiday cheer and magic of the season — plus get that iconic family photo with Santa himself.
He sets up across from sweetgreen in Hynes Court.
Local tip: There’s a special day in December when you can get photos of your furbabies with Santa!
Get the details here.
Catch a Game at TD Garden
Thanksgiving Day is traditionally all about football, so shake things up over the weekend and enjoy some basketball or ice hockey, too!
Get tickets for a game at TD Garden and cheer on the Boston Celtics or the Boston Bruins.
Boston Symphony Orchestra’s H+H Messiah
One of the most traditional events on Thanksgiving weekend in Boston is going to the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) for the Handel and Haydn (H+H) Society’s performance of Hendel’s Messiah.
H+H has an extensive history as a performing arts organization, having been founded in 1815 and continuously offering performances since!
Buy tickets here.
Go Ice Skating
Go ice skating on Thanksgiving weekend to get moving after a day of eating and drinking with family or friends.
Steriti Ice Rink in the North End is one of our favorite Boston ice skating options that’s perfect for a weekend adventure; it tends to be slightly less crowded so it’s a great spot to teach little ones how to skate.
Frog Pond on Boston Common opens based on weather, and is closed on Thanksgiving Day even if the weather cooperates!
Martin’s Park Ship Lighting
On the Saturday after Thanksgiving in Boston, go to Martin’s Park to see the annual ship lighting.
This multifaceted park is perfect for taking the kids to play and burn off some energy over the weekend.
There are varied playground spaces available so they can choose their favorites and make new friends!
Of course, the lighting is in the evening, so plan your trip accordingly.
Santa will arrive by boat, hot cocoa will be available, and holiday tunes will be sung.
It’s the perfect way to kick off the Christmas season as soon as Thanksgiving is over.
Polar Express in 4D at the Museum of Science
Whether you’re bringing the kids or you just want to relive the pure magic of The Polar Express, head to the Museum of Science to enjoy a special 4D experience.
This holiday classic is an annual favorite and makes for the perfect Thanksgiving weekend activity in Boston!
Wampanoag Nation Singers and Dancers
Held annually at the JFK Library, the Wampanoag Nation Singers and Dancers offer a celebration of culture and learning on the day after Thanksgiving.
Appropriate for kids 5 and up, this annual event is a great way to honor the Wampanoag, who are the ancestral keepers of this land.
While the event is free to attend, advance registration is required.
Get more details and register here.
Boston Thanksgiving Shopping
If you’re ready to elbow your way through the crowds to snag an awesome deal, Thanksgiving weekend means it’s Black Friday in Boston with plenty of shopping opportunities.
Head to Newbury Street, the Prudential Center, or Assembly Row to hit up the wide variety of stores offering discounts and deals.
If you’re looking for massive savings, Wrentham Outlets are about a 45-minute drive south of the city where you’ll find outlet pricing further reduced with Black Friday savings.
Just be ready for big crowds and a busy parking lot (trust me — I grew up not far from the Outlets and it can get super busy that weekend!).
Arnold Arboretum Stroll
Ready to stretch your legs after all that turkey?
Arnold Arboretum is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of Black Friday with a walk in the park.
While the pretty fall foliage is done by Thanksgiving, this is one of our favorite places in Boston in the fall!
Expect to see tons of other folks out walking and running, lots of dogs, and plenty of families all enjoying this beautiful outdoor space together.
Day Trip to Plymouth
Take a trip to where Thanksgiving all started.
Of course, the reality of this holiday is a far cry from the commercialized, sanitized version we teach children in school.
In Plymouth on Thanksgiving, you can support and honor Indigenous peoples at their National Day of Mourning.
The Wampanoag, or People of the First Light, have been the traditional stewards of this land for thousands of years and continue to live in Massachusetts to this day.
The National Day of Mourning has been an annual event since 1970, organized by the United American Indians of New England, and includes a gathering at Cole’s Hill and a march through Plymouth.
If you want to visit Plimoth Patuxet to see a 17th-century recreated English settler village and Wampanoag village, it stays open through the Sunday of Thanksgiving Weekend and then closes for the winter.
Get your tickets in advance right here.
If you’re based in Boston and want to let someone else do the driving (and search for parking), consider this day trip from the city to Cape Cod and Plymouth.
Volunteering on Thanksgiving in Boston
While eating a big meal with family and friends might be your typical Thanksgiving tradition, volunteering on this holiday is another beloved tradition across the country.
Personal note: I’ve volunteered in food kitchens on Thanksgiving when I’ve lived far from family; it’s a wonderful way to spend the holiday in your new community!
Pie in the Sky Volunteers
In Boston, you can volunteer with Pie in the Sky to help staff their many pick-up locations for buyers, or you can volunteer to sell pies in your own community network!
This volunteer effort is before Thanksgiving, so you can spend the month of November practicing gratitude and supporting your local community before the big holiday weekend actually kicks off.
United Way of Massachusetts Bay Volunteering
United Way of Massachusetts Bay is a wonderful place to volunteer on Thanksgiving in Boston.
Formerly called The Thanksgiving Project, their rebranded Gratitude Project still aims to support the community through nearly 300,000 pounds of food donations sorted and distributed by tens of thousands of volunteers.
Be part of this exceptional community support system to spread that gratitude beyond the Thanksgiving plate this year!
Boston Cares and Greater Boston Food Bank
Boston Cares coordinates food banks and volunteer shifts throughout the region.
Sign up to help sort and distribute meals at any of their many locations.
Note that you must attend a one-hour volunteer orientation before your first shift, so you’ll want to sign up to volunteer well in advance of Thanksgiving weekend.
This is a great opportunity to volunteer beyond the holiday!
We hope this helped you plan your Thanksgiving in Boston!
Share your favorite meal or activities in the comments below.
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