How to do Thanksgiving in San Francisco

How to do Thanksgiving in San Francisco

Thanksgiving in the USA marks the beginning of a season of festivities and the annual family reunion. This emphasis on family and friends getting together in a spirit of gratitude makes it a quintessential and much-loved American holiday.


                               Go ice skating at  Union Square

Many San Francisco residents have come here from other places, and return to their families in other states and cities for the Thanksgiving holiday. Add to that, the day is devoted to visiting people’s homes for the Thanksgiving meal, it’s really a pretty quiet time in the city. November is the beginning of the rainy season in California. If it is not raining, the weather is mild and pleasant and perfect for long walks and strolling around the city at its least crowded.

Thanksgiving in the City: 5 Fun Activities

This is not really a holiday associated with public events. But here are some ideas to explore on or around Thanksgiving Day:

  • There is, of course, Black Friday. The day after Thanksgiving is a huge shopping day and if you want to join the throngs of bargain shoppers and hard-to-resist deals in Union Square, it’s quite a tradition to witness.
  • Following your shopping, attend the annual tree lighting which takes place at 6 pm the same day – Friday after Thanksgiving Day – in Union Square.  Admission is free.
  • To round off your day, why not then go to Union Square ice-skating rink, or at the one in the Embarcadero Center?
  • Take a bike ride to Golden Gate Bridge, or through one of the many city park and seafront trails. November is a perfect time to enjoy the fall foliage, the views and mild climate.  Dress in layers as you will start the ride feeling somewhat of a chill, but warm up with the exercise.
  • There is one interesting and lesser known event we discovered in the course of researching this piece – and that is the un-Thanksgiving Day Cruise.  This is held the day before the holiday. On a day where there are no ferries to Alcatraz Island, there is one – it is called the unThanksgiving Day Cruise, and upon reaching Alcatraz Island, you join the Indigenous People’s Sunrise Gathering. This is hosted by indigenous peoples in the area to commemorate the 1969-71 occupation of Alcatraz by the “Indians of All Tribes”.
    Indigenous Native American Gathering on Alcatraz Island
    It’s a different kind of Thanksgiving experience, but a chance to learn about the history of the occupation of Alcatraz and also about this holiday from the perspective of indigenous Native American communities. 

Whatever you do around Thanksgiving, we hope it’s a memory-making San Francisco experience!

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