While many of us love having friends and family around for the Thanksgiving holiday, it can be a daunting task to figure out how to entertain everyone. Check out these local ideas for how to get the crew out of the house and out and about during the holiday weekend. You’ll find a mix of ways to participate in a good cause, explore the outdoors, enjoy art and meet new people. And if you’ve had enough of Thanksgiving and want to jump into celebrating Christmas, we’ve got you covered there too.
Walk To End Hunger
Mall of America
60 E. Broadway
Bloomington, MN 55425
Date: Nov. 28, 2013
Help end hunger in the Twin Cities by enlisting your Thanksgiving visitors in a walk. Out of towners can participate in the 5K walk around the Mall of America on Thanksgiving morning with many benefits. They’ll burn some pre-feast calories, catch a glimpse of the Mall of America holiday storefronts and most importantly, raise money for a great cause. Create a family ‘team’ and register online to compete for the most donations before the walk, which happens between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m.
Pie And Wine Potluck Soirée
Franconia Sculpture Park
29836 St. Croix Trail
Franconia, MN 55074
Date: Nov. 30, 2013
Head 45 minutes northeast of the Twin Cities to Franconia Sculpture Park to find interesting people, fabulous art and good food. On the Saturday following Thanksgiving from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., the park hosts a potluck with a toasty bonfire and hayride tours covering the 20 acres of outdoor art. Guests are asked to bring a pie or a bottle of wine to share with new friends. Franconia Sculpture Park provides the coffee, apple cider and delicious turkey soup. The gathering and entrance into the park are free, but email firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP if you plan on eating.
Along Nicollet Mall between 4th and 12th St.
Minneapolis, MN 55402
Dates: Nov. 29 through Dec. 21, 2013
After the stuffing and pumpkin pie have been cleared away, kick off the Christmas season with the Holidazzle Parade, an iconic Minnesota must-do since 1992. Line up along Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis for the nighttime spectacle of dazzling lights, floats and Santa himself. The parade begins its holiday run on the day after Thanksgiving and continues until the Sunday before Christmas. Don’t forget to also head up to the 8th floor of Macy’s on 7th and Nicollet to walk through another Minnesota tradition, the Macy’s Santaland holiday display.
Weisman Art Musuem
333 E. River Road
Minneapolis, MN 55455
The Weisman Art Museum, a local jewel designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, showcases art by American artists like Georgia O’Keefe and Roy Lichtenstein, plus has permanent collections of Korean furniture and over 2,000 ceramic objects of various eras, styles and cultures. The Thanksgiving holiday weekend is a great time to visit the Weisman. Since the museum is located on the University of Minnesota campus, the college crowds are gone and school field trips for the younger set are on pause. Plus, the Weisman is free, so it makes for an affordable place to bring lots of family. The museum is closed on Thanksgiving, but will be open Friday through Sunday of the holiday weekend.
National Eagle Center
50 Pembroke Ave.
Wabasha, MN 55981
For out-of-town guests looking to catch a glimpse of wildlife, take them to the National Eagle Center in Wabasha. Just 90 minutes outside of the Twin Cities, the center makes a fantastic day trip during the winter months. This is because the barren trees along the Mississippi River Valley provide the perfect backdrop to spot the birds on eagle-viewing field trips or when using the spotting scopes on the observation decks. There are also plenty of indoor exhibits and classroom-style programs that feature live, rescued eagles for those who prefer to skip the Minnesota chill. The National Eagle Center is closed Thanksgiving Day, but open the rest of the holiday weekend.
Related: A Guide To The Minnesota Zoo
Cortney Mohnk is a freelance writer covering all things Minnesota. She is also a public relations and event planning professional. Her most important job is mother to her young daughter, who is her partner-in-crime when checking out the family entertainment scene in the Twin Cities. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.