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Things to Do

What to Do on Thanksgiving Day in New Orleans

Thanksgiving at the Track
Get all dressed up for the Thanksgiving Day races at the Fair Grounds race track. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

As a child, Thanksgiving was my least favorite holiday. It boasted neither candy (unless you count yams with marshmallows), nor presents, and there was definitely no mysterious character in a lumpy suit to usher in the holiday. As an adult, though, this perception has shifted completely (as has my sweet tooth). Unlike some of the more commercialized holidays, Thanksgiving can truly can get us back to what is important: time with family and friends, good food, and practicing gratitude. This year, try getting back to basics by giving back to the community, spending the day with loved ones, and eating a satisfying meal.

Turkey Day Race

Build up an appetite for your Thanksgiving meal by lacing up your tennis shoes and pounding the pavement for a good cause. This year marks the New Orleans Athletic Club’s 112th annual Turkey Day Race. The race takes place at Tad Gormley Stadium in City Park and includes both a five-mile race (starting at 8:30 a.m.) and a kids’ half-mile race (starting at 8:35 a.m.) for ages 12 and under. Register now through November 20 for a reduced entry price. Race day registration is $50 for adults and $20 for children. Proceeds go toward Spina Bifida of Greater New Orleans.

Give Back to the Community

Keep up the contributions to the community by finding a local organization to volunteer with. Sometimes, Thanksgiving can be a day of excess where we eat until we are bursting. On days like Thanksgiving, it is easy to forget about those who are less fortunate. Contact United Way of Southeast Louisiana or their partner agencies to make some time to give back. Perhaps help feed those who are hungry with Loaves and Fishes Feeding Ministry or at Ozanam Inn. Then, when it comes time to eat your own delicious meal, you will have developed a true sense of thanksgiving.

Swan River Yoga hosts its annual Swansgiving class on Thanksgiving (photo courtesy of Swan River Yoga)
Swan River Yoga hosts its annual Swansgiving class on Thanksgiving (Photo courtesy of Swan River Yoga)

Swan River Annual Thanksgiving Benefit Yoga Class

Start Thanksgiving Day by allowing time for yourself to develop a sense of peace—at least before the in-laws arrive for dinner later (just kidding!). Every year, Swan River Yoga Mandir in Mid-City hosts a Thanksgiving Day yoga class, an open yoga class with live music which, this year, will benefit Swan River Yoga Arabi Community Center. Class is from 9:00 to 10:15 a.m. and is by donation (suggested $15-25). Pre-registration is required.

Indulge in The Mile High Pie at the Pontchartrain Hotel on Thanksgiving Day (Photo: Rebecca Todd)

Eat Thanksgiving Dinner Out

For those who host Thanksgiving, the preparation can induce a lot of stress. If you’d rather not, or if you want to switch up the tradition, consider making a reservation at one of many local restaurants that will be open on Thanksgiving Day, many with prix-fixe menus. If the intimate nature of your own home is what you really need, there are plenty of places that offer take-out too—from appetizers, to turkey, to dessert. Check out our guide to some of the many restaurants and caterers open that day, including Café Reconcile, Compére Lapin, Jack Rose, and Ralph’s on the Park.

Bowl on Thanksgiving Day

Enjoy your meal, then head downtown to Fulton Alley for bowling and small bites. The lanes will be open from 4-11 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day – perfect for working off that Thanksgiving dinner. Additionally, Rock ‘N’ Bowl in Mid-City will host Zydeco Night with entertainment from Geno Delafose at 8 p.m.

Spend Thanksgiving at the Fair Grounds

In New Orleans, a favorite Thanksgiving pastime consists of watching the horse races at the New Orleans Fair Grounds. This year marks the 148th anniversary. Do some people-watching—especially ogling the large, conspicuous hats (the more feathers and flowers, the better), or place bets on your favorite horse if gambling is your thing. Relieve some of the pressure of preparing a Thanksgiving meal by making reservations in the club house, or simply enjoy nibbling on concession food.

Emily Ramírez Hernández is the child of New Orleans natives whose families have been in the city for generations. Emily's earliest memories of New Orleans include joyful car rides over bumpy streets, eating dripping roast beef po-boys at Domilise's, and catching bouncy balls during Mardi Gras parades with cousins. An urban planner by day and freelance writer by night, when she is off the clock she enjoys biking around town, belly dancing, and catching nerdlesque shows.

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