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When you’re alone in a new country or city, unfamiliar holidays can leave you at a loose end. Thanksgiving can be particularly daunting in the US, considering its emphasis on family and friends. Americans traditionally spend the day getting the family dinner ready, which means the few new friends you’ve made will probably be otherwise engaged on Thursday.

Don’t worry though, San Francisco offers a cornucopia (sorry, couldn’t help myself) of activities to make your Thanksgiving less lonely and way more memorable. It’s a great (and way less crowded) time to get to know the city and its surrounds!

Take A Tour
Many tour companies run over Thanksgiving to meet the demand from out-of-towners taking advantage of the four-day weekend. Have a look around TripAdvisorand decide what you want to do: hitch a Segway ride, get on a bike tour of the iconic SF streets, do a walking tour, head out to wine country or a national park. There are heaps of things to see and do!
Of course everyone’s waiting for Black Friday to roll around to get bargains from larger retailers, but if you just want to go for a stroll around your best bets would be to hit up Fishermans Wharf and Chinatown. Shops in other areas are usually closed for the holiday, but you’ll find a fair few in these two precincts open for business.
Turkey Trot
If you’d prefer to start your day with a little turkey tradition, you can join one of the two San Francisco runs on Thursday morning. These events are run around the country on the premise that you’re working off your turkey before you eat it. The San Francisco three and five mile events are already sold out but the website lists other nearby trots to sink your feet into.The Thanksgiving Day 5K, however, is still open for registrations and better still, part of your registration fee goes to the SF-Marin Food Bank. Entrants are also encouraged to bring non-perishable food to donate to the food bank.
Tourist Attractions
Knowing what’s going to be shut on Thanksgiving Day will save you a lot of hassle both in planning and execution. SF Tourism Tips has put together a great list of popular attractions along with their Thanksgiving business hours. Thanks!
Maybe you want to experience an American Thanksgiving but don’t have a house to go to. Why not consider volunteering at a charity that’s cooking and dishing up meals to the less fortunate or housebound? You can find a list of charities looking for help here at FunCheapSF. Spoiler: One involves animals!
Ice Skating
Get into the winter Christmas spirit a little early by strapping skates to your feet and gliding around the Union Square Ice Rink. It’s open between 10am and 11.30pm on Thanksgiving Day and each session lasts for 90 minutes. Make sure you book your tickets ahead through the website though to secure your spot!
Illuminate SF
We’re getting into the nighttime activities now and there are a couple to choose from. For the past three years San Francisco has been lit up by light art installations to get you into the holiday mood. This year’s Illuminate SF Festival of Light will feature 35 installations by 31 artists across 12 neighbourhoods and runs from Thanksgiving Night to New Year’s Day. Either join up with a tour or check out their self-guided itineraries online.

Laugh It Up
If comedy’s more your thing, head out to HellaFunny at Milk Bar in Haight-Ashbury to see some of San Francisco’s best comedic talent. It runs every Thursday night at 8pm, but is definitely going ahead on Thanksgiving night. Tickets are $15 or free if you pick them up here with the code HELLAFUNNY.
Tree Lighting
This happens on Black Friday night, but it’s still Thanksgiving weekend so it sneaks in. The biggest of all the tree lighting ceremonies happening around the city is the Union Square tree. It’s scheduled to kick off at 6pm on November 25.