Thanksgiving in CT is a day of rituals, most of which revolve around food. On Thanksgiving, we eagerly anticipate the delicious sides, turkey, ham, and gravy. That said, there are also enjoyable activities that don’t revolve around food. Create a new tradition or two for your family to celebrate this year.
Top Ideas for a new Thanksgiving Tradition or Two
We made a list of Thanksgiving activities for your perusal. There’s everything from a turkey-trot in the morning, touch football in the afternoon, and matching pajamas in the evening. We want your celebrations to be more than just the usual meal.
And then we added a local spin to it. Because there’s no point in celebrating Thanksgiving in CT if it’s not unique.
Get ready for Thanksgiving Day in Connecticut
There are things to do on Thanksgiving before the turkey comes out of the oven and even long after you’ve washed the last dish.
But first, no massive and impressive meal ends well without proper planning.
As my father used to quote me (and I quote back to him now): proper prior planning prevents piss-poor performance.
Farmers markets and farm stands in Connecticut for Thanksgiving meal ingredients
Making Thanksgiving dinner for two or twenty? Begin with fresh ingredients from great Connecticut farms, such as turkeys (though make sure you order ahead of time). Connecticut Grown providers have local products to assist with Farm-to-Table holiday meals.
And who doesn’t love having a great story to tell about the food you prepared at Thanksgiving dinner?
A Connecticut pumpkin patch is sure to have the perfect addition to the table, or your pumpkin pie.
Connecticut wineries on the CT wine trail will have the perfect pairing for your table, too.
Ideas for Thanksgiving Day
Start your four-day weekend right with a relaxed preparation for the day, plus Thanksgiving dinner.
Thanksgiving morning activities
Many make do with the morning ritual of watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. And yet this heart-warming tradition isn’t the only way to celebrate the holiday. Check out the annual National Dog Show for an overload of cuteness. Who will triumph this year? The golden retriever? Or perhaps the Shih Tzu? There is only one way to find out before Instagram does.
A pre-dinner run is a great way to get your blood pumping before chowing down on leftover apple pie. And the Greenwich Alliance for Education hosts a Turkey Trot race the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The event is a few days late, but you’ll still enjoy it.
Some other Turkey Trots to check out include:
- Harbor Point Turkey Trot 5K Fun Run
- Manchester Road Race
- Newtown Turkey Trot
- Pequot Runners Thanksgiving Race
Hunt for Mini Pumpkins
Coming up with clever places to hide the eggs before the big Easter egg hunt is as much fun for adults as it is for children. But don’t limit your hunting enjoyment to the spring! Instead of eggs, hide mini pumpkins or gourds around the yard and set the kids loose to find them all. Once all of them have been discovered, they can be used as a centerpiece.
Thanksgiving activities before dinner
Take a football and divide the group into teams for a game of touch football or flag football. Just don’t get too rough; no one wants to go to the Greenwich Hospital emergency room on a holiday.
A gratitude game will keep everyone’s attention on the reason for the season. It makes asking everyone what they’re thankful for even more enjoyable, and it encourages people to be more creative in their responses. If you don’t want to spoil anyone’s appetite, use game pieces instead of candy.
Connecticut Restaurants serving Thanksgiving Dinner
These restaurants put a unique spin on the traditional holiday meal. Here are just a few of the many restaurants open for Thanksgiving in Connecticut. Call ahead for reservations and times.
- Take-out options at Bear’s Smokehouse in Hartford, South Windsor, New Haven, and Windsor include whole smoked turkeys, smoked glazed hams, brisket, and baby back ribs.
- The Simsbury Inn‘s Thanksgiving buffet offers a wide variety of options, plus the standard mashed potatoes, sausage stuffing, and cranberry sauce.
- Simsbury’s Millwright’s Restaurant is offering a three-course prix fixe dinner with a family-style dessert plate.
- J. Gilbert’s in Glastonbury offers Thanksgiving carryout kits complete with all the fixings, as well as a three-course plated Thanksgiving dinner.
- Try the Grand Thanksgiving Brunch Buffet at Mystic Hilton and Madison Beach Hotel, or Water’s Edge Resort & Spa in Westbrook, if you prefer a buffet-style Thanksgiving dinner.
Celebrate this special holiday with friends and family in their historic Connecticut dining rooms! They’re back with a sumptuous Thanksgiving buffet, complete with all of your old favorites.
L’Escale, a Provençal restaurant on Greenwich’s waterfront at the Delamar Greenwich Harbor hotel, has two-century-old stone terra cotta tiles and a wood-burning fireplace. The Thanksgiving dinner menu includes a prix-fixe menu served from noon to 6 PM on Turkey day. A fine French wine list is included on the menu.
Evening activities after Turkey day dinner
Once everyone’s stuffed, it may not yet be time for bed. And after all, you can’t have Thanksgiving leftover sandwiches right after dinner. So pass a couple hours until you’re hungry again with a selection of the Thanksgiving activities, below:
Take a walk
The simplest of activities is the Pearson family favorite. After you’ve finished your second and third helpings, gather the family and your walking shoes for a stroll around the neighborhood. Add some life to your day by going for a quick walk—it’s good for both your body and your soul. Wrap up warm and enjoy the Christmas lights that a few neighbors couldn’t wait to put up. It beats falling asleep on the couch, and you’ll likely catch other locals out, too!
Board games and Thanksgiving Trivia
Thanksgiving is all about family. So rather than getting lost in your phones or the latest Netflix series, gather everyone after dinner for some good old-fashioned fun. Playing board games with family and friends is guaranteed to make you laugh, whether you choose a classic like Monopoly, charades, or Balderdash (our family favorite). To add some friendly competition and test your group’s knowledge, try to play Thanksgiving trivia this year. You’ll have a good time watching everyone get excited about history, and you might even learn something along the way. You’ll also create some lasting memories.
Thanksgiving Movie Marathon
This year, make some popcorn, curl up on the couch, and watch your favorite Thanksgiving movies or marathon-worthy shows. Who can say no to A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, at least to start your movie marathon?
Peruse Family Albums
Get out the old family photo albums and gather the kids around to reminisce and explore the family tree. Seeing pictures of births, weddings and vacations past is sure to stir up precious memories and the stories that go with them. Add a little friendly competition to it by getting people to guess which baby photo corresponds to each Thanksgiving dinner guest. It’s fun to see how much your loved ones have changed over the years!
Fun things to do over the Thanksgiving weekend
Success! You’ve entertained everyone on Thanksgiving Day.
There’s still three more days to keep everyone entertained over the weekend. Luckily, November in Connecticut features a few unique elements that make it quite special.
Depending on the weather, you can head outside and enjoy the last gasps of the fall, or get excited for the holiday season.
Get ready for the holiday season
Once the leftovers are put away, it does feel like a good time to prepare for the rest of the holiday season. Luckily, December is right around the corner, and the there are plenty of Christmas things to do in Connecticut, that start before December even begins.
Black Friday shopping, locally
Sure, you could do your online shopping and fight people at retail outlets across the country. Or you could find some very unique gifts at a local craft store, unique Connecticut gift shops, or somewhere else entirely.
The Greenwich Avenue shopping district has a little bit of everything, though it comes at a price. If you’re looking for something that will be uniquely yours (ie: if you’re tired of the quiet luxury trend), head to one of the CT flea markets. Antique stores across Connecticut would also be a good bet for unique holiday gifts.
Or head to nearby Norwalk, Connecticut, for some very unique shopping, including one of the prettiest antique stores in Connecticut, the Fairfield County Design and Antique Center.
Things to do with kids in CT
The best museums across Connecticut will be delighted to keep your kids entertained for a few hours on the Friday or weekend after Thanksgiving. Or take them to Greenwich Point Park for a pleasant beach-side stroll.
Read our full guide to things to do in Greenwich, CT, with kids for way more ideas.
Personally, the long weekend is prime time to explore the rest of Connecticut. A Connecticut day trip or two is always on the list for the long weekend.
And if you need an excuse to visit or stay longer, the Greenwich Reindeer Festival kicks off the weekend after Thanksgiving.
The museums on the Yale University campus alone are worth a visit. But the list of things to do in New Haven includes a bike trail, walks along the waterfront, and much more.
Or justify the trip with some Swedish meatballs at Ikea.
Locals often equate the town of Kent, CT, with the fall in general. And the leaves may have passed by the time you’re heading up, but the drive is still pretty. And there are plenty of things to do in and around this charming little town.
The Connecticut River Valley in general is a splendid place to explore. And the quaint town of Essex is a great destination here. The drive along Connecticut’s shoreline on Long Island Sound is quite pleasant this time of year, too.
Discover even more things to do over Thanksgiving in CT
There’s plenty more to do while you’re celebrating Thanksgiving and the holidays!