How to Spend Thanksgiving in Cleveland

Cleveland Ohio

Every fourth Thursday of November, we’re given free rein to don our stretchiest of pants and spend time gathered around the dinner table, piling our plates high with turkey, mashed potatoes, and anything and everything traditional of Thanksgiving.

Turkey dinner may be the main event, but how do you typically spend the rest of the day?Watching football is always the standby option, but with so many Thanksgiving events in Cleveland happening this year, why not schedule time out of the house exploring this great city?

Monkey Around

The Cleveland Zoo offers all visitors FREE admission on Thanksgiving Day from 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM. It’ll give the kids a chance to burn off extra energy and the adults a perfect way to snap out of their food coma. With the recent opening of the multi-million dollar Rosebrough Tiger Passage, there’s no better time to go.

An elephant at the Cleveland Zoo

Night at the Rocksino

Is twang your thang? Join us in Hard Rock Live on Wednesday, November 23 at 7:30 PM for Post Road’s CD release party! Tickets are FREE. Or catch Aretifex in Club Velvet for a special Thanksgiving Eve Decades Dance Party. Formerly Next Level, Aretifex is one of Cleveland’s hottest dance and party bands, specializing in Motown favorites, R&B, Jazz tunes, and more. The show kicks off at 9:00 PM.

Post Road Country Band

But that’s not all. That 80s Band will be performing at 8:00 PM on the Cafe stage. Be sure to stop by and rock out to some of your favorite tunes from the best decade ever.

Turkey Trot

Want to feel like you’ve really earned your place at the turkey day buffet? Then, register for the annual Cleveland Turkey Trot. Stretch your legs for the one-mile fun walk or work up a sweat for the family-friendly 5K race. Either way, the start time isn’t too early and you’ll feel good about getting in a workout before the start to a food-filled day.

The Turkey Trot event in Cleveland, Ohio.

Skip Dish Duty

Let’s face it: the allure of allowing someone else whip up a Thanksgiving meal and handle the dishes afterwards sounds more appealing year after year. You can still get all the turkey and trimmings with none of the mess by reserving a spot at 100th Bomb Group. The restaurant’s Thanksgiving Day Champagne Buffet features a carving station, crab legs, and drink stations, including a Bloody Mary bar and hot apple cider. Eat, drink, and be merry.

Place settings

Winterfest Wonderland

The frenzy of Black Friday may be more your speed, but if you want to slow the pace and shop local, wait for Winterfest’s Cleveland Bazaar Holiday Pop-Up Shop on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. There will be food trucks, a children’s entertainment stage, sports star sightings, and of course, the official downtown lighting complete with free cookies, hot cocoa, and the man of the season, Santa Claus.

A Horse greets crowds from a stable at a Winterfest event.

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

While the famed museum isn’t open Thanksgiving Day, you still have a chance to visit all weekend long, since it’s open every day from 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM. Newbies can wander through the memorabilia, exhibits, and wall of inductees to experience exactly why Cleveland rocks. Those who’ve already been and are back for more can get an up-close look at the newest inductees and experience “Louder Than Words: Rock, Power & Politics,” an exhibit in partnership with the Newseum in Washington, D.C. on display until January 6, 2017. See how music has influenced the nation throughout the years.


The Annual Martini Experience

Thanksgiving Eve is a time to reunited with family members and old friends in anticipation of the big food day. It quite possibly is one of the busiest nights for bars in Cleveland, but The Annual Martini Experience  is a drinking and dancing event not to be missed. Get in free with a RSVP before 10:00 PM. Party your way into the holiday weekend with a complimentary cocktail lounge and spinning courtesy DJ Terry Urban.

Martina glasses line a bar top.

Polka Your Way Into the Weekend

Polka is a way of life for many Clevelanders. Not quite convinced? Tell that to the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum who will be celebrating its 53rd Thanksgiving Polka Party Weekend from November 24 – November 26 in downtown with an awards show, performances, and polka dancing all weekend long.

Polka Dancers Line Up

You can feel the festive atmosphere leading up to Thanksgiving in Cleveland. Everyone is excited for the holiday season and thankful for time spent with family and friends. What’s on your agenda come Thanksgiving weekend?

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