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The Best Ways To Celebrate Thanksgiving In San Francisco
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The Best Ways To Celebrate Thanksgiving In San Francisco

Picture of Emily Boleware
Updated: 27 November 2016
With the changing of seasons comes that much-awaited day of binge-eating turkey and stuffing: Thanksgiving. Hit grocery stores early to avoid the rush, or if you doubt your culinary skills, plan your dinner reservations at one of San Francisco’s best restaurants. There are also many alternative options for spending your day in a non-traditional way. Giving thanks can be spiritual and literal if you decide to give back, no matter what time of year.

Take Time To Volunteer

Give back this season by joining one of the many volunteer opportunities in the Bay Area. Volunteers at community centers and food banks are obviously always warmly welcomed, but don’t forget that Thanksgiving is the most popular time for volunteering. Many organizations are in desperate need of help year-round, so don’t forget to consider volunteering another time, schedules permitting. That being said, check with the organizations below to see if they can use your help! Many families don’t have food security: dependable access to safe, affordable, nutritious food. To learn more about food security in the Bay Area, check out this article.

Glide Thanksgiving Meals

Volunteer your time serving meals with Glide Memorial Church. Glide has a Daily Free Meals Program for people in need that runs 365 days a year. It needs 85 volunteers each day, so if you enjoy your experience, you can make moves to regularly give back to your community.

Glide Memorial Church, 330 Ellis St., San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 674 6000

San Francisco Food Bank

‘Help fill plates this Thanksgiving’ at the SF-Marin Food Bank. This organization provides supplies for a network of 450 community partners to distribute food to people that struggle with food insecurity and economic distress. Their mission is to end hunger in San Francisco and Marin.

San Francisco and Marin Food Bank, 900 Pennsylvania Ave., San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 282 1900

Salvation Army Thanksgiving Day Delivery

The Salvation Army is delivering Thanksgiving meals with the help of volunteers. Fortunately, they have already filled their quota, and many families will be able to share in the holiday bounty. If you missed the registration deadline, they are still accepting volunteers for Christmas dinner.

Meals on Wheels

Meals on Wheels needs volunteers to deliver hot turkey dinners. Take three hours out of your day to get out of the kitchen and distribute a little warmth and holiday cheer.

Thanksgiving Day Outreach And Block Party In The Tenderloin

San Francisco City Impact is highlighting its Thanksgiving Day Outreach Event with a Block Party in the Tenderloin, which will deliver 7,000 hot meals, serve 300 sit-down dinners, and deliver 500 grocery bags. Volunteer efforts are both on-site volunteer work and, if you can’t spare the time, available in the form of $25 registration fees payable online that will help make this wonderful event possible.

SF City Impact, 230 Jones St., San Francisco, CA, USA

SPCA Holiday Window At Macy’s

If you’ve had the pleasure of stumbling across the Macy’s Holiday Window in Union Square before, you know that nestled among the elaborate decorations are adorable puppies and kittens — put there to entice donations for and adoptions from the SPCA. If now’s not the right time to run out and adopt a puppy, don’t fret. You can volunteer with the team by greeting and directing visitors and collecting donations.

Macy’s, 170 O’Farrell St., San Francisco CA, USA

Thanksgiving Dinner In The City

After years of experiencing the Thanksgiving Day grocery rush, kitchen frenzy and in-law drama, some people probably want to relax and have someone else do the cooking (and the cleaning, for that matter). Make dinner reservations for the holiday in San Francisco: there are dozens of delicious restaurants to choose from, but plan your holiday feast quickly as they will fill up faster than you think!

Take A Dinner Cruise

If you’re interested in something a little more extravagant this year, you should consider the Thanksgiving Buffet Dinner Cruise aboard the San Francisco Belle. It’s a three-hour Bay cruise with live music. It’s a little pricey, but if you can afford it, the cruise promises striking scenic views of famous San Francisco landmarks.

Try Something Less Traditional:

Take A Walk

Work off those extra stuffing calories by taking a stroll through one of San Francisco’s many beautiful parks. Some options are Land’s End, which is scenic and stunning, and Golden Gate, which is large and peaceful (and thankfully mostly flat, so you can enjoy your walk without struggling uphill).

Thanksgiving Day 5k

Proceeds from the Thanksgiving Day 5k community event go to the San Francisco and Marin Food Banks, helping redistribute food to those in need. Help battle food insecurity in the Bay while getting in some exercise. As their website states: ‘Hunger is a serious problem in our community — 1 in 4 residents are at risk of hunger in San Francisco and Marin. Every day, the Food Bank sources, collects, sorts, inspects and repackages thousands of pounds of food, then distributes it to soup kitchens, neighborhood grocery centers, school programs and seniors in need.’

Visit The Botanical Garden

The Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park is offering free admission all day on Thanksgiving. Take a moment to remember what you’re thankful for while you meander through the serene gardens.

San Francisco Botanical Garden, 1199 9th Ave., San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 661 1316

Enjoy A Comedy Show Or Dance Party

For those of you who are superhuman and still have energy after absorbing all that tryptophan, there are several San Francisco nightlife options even on this holiday.

Visit the Aquarium or the Beat Museum

Most museums and shopping centers are closed for the holiday, but if you’re looking for something to distract yourself while the turkey’s cooking, these are some great options. Learn about marine life and conservation efforts at the Aquarium of the Bay at Pier 39 or educate yourself on Kerouac and the beatnik generation of San Francisco at The Beat Museum in North Beach.

Aquarium of the Bay, Pier 39, 2 Beach St., San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 623 5300

The Beat Museum, 540 Broadway, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 399 9626