Looking for something to do with friends and family Thanksgiving weekend, 2021? Here is a big list of things to do in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and beyond. More will be added! What do you think should be on the list?
We’ve highlighted a few major attractions and fun ideas, but please scroll down for a more comprehensive day-by-day list.
On Triangle on the Cheap, we generally focus on the cheap, and preferably, free, events, but we are including some pricier events in this list, in case a splurge is a possibility for you. But there are still lots of cheap stuff to do!
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Check out our big list of magnificent Christmas light displays in the Triangle. Some are on farms or other venues and have an entry fee, but many are absolutely free. There’s even a Google Map to help you plan your trek! Two drive-thru attractions that are sure to be popular in Raleigh are Magic of Lights at Coastal Credit Union Music Park and WRAL Nights of Lights at Dix Park, but these are far from the only choices.
Go Ice Skating
Enjoy ice skating at Red Hat Amphitheater, with a view of the Raleigh skyline. The RINK will not be open Thanksgiving Day, but will be open the rest of the weekend. The cost is $11 to skate (including skate rental) and $6 to watch.
Boxcar Bar & Arcade
Bring the family for an arcade tournament and drinks! Both locations of Boxcar Bar & Arcade are open all weekend with regular hours, including Thanksgiving Day, and with extended hours on Friday. 621 Foster Street, Durham, and 330 W. Davie Street, Raleigh.
Merry Moore Market
Head to Moore Square in Raleigh on Friday or Saturday evening, from 5 to 9 p.m. It will be transformed into a festival holiday destination, Merry Moore Market. Shop from 50 vendors, take carriage rides, and listen to live music. There will be kids’ activities and crafts, and on Saturday, from 5 to 7 p.m., Santa will be there for kids to meet. Take your own pictures, for free.
Hanukkah Outdoor Concert and Menorah Lighting
Celebrate the first night of Hanukkah at Apex Nature Park and Amphitheater on Sunday, November 28th, at 3:30 p.m. The event features a concert, games, craft, and the lighting of a giant Menorah. This is not the only Hanukkah event taking place this weekend. Learn about all the Hanukkah celebrations in the Triangle.
Take the kids to either Bass Pro Shops, 801 Bass Pro Lane, Cary, or Cabela’s, 201 Cabela Drive, Garner, and you and get a free picture of them with Santa. This is going on every day through Christmas Eve. You need to make reservations in advance. We also have a big list of other opportunities for a free picture with Santa in the Triangle.
Shop at a Holiday Market
Instead of going to the big box stores for Black Friday, check out our big list of holiday markets around the Triangle. You’ll get to shop for unique gifts and, in many cases, even meet the artist who created it.
Hillsborough Last Fridays
The last Friday of the month, Hillsborough presents Hillsborough Last Fridays Art Walk, which features live music throughout the town, special interactive arts events and displays, street performers, art gallery receptions, and much more. It’s definitely worth checking out!
Go to a Drive-In Movie
Go to a drive-in movie right in Raleigh! Triangle Drive-In is showing Clifford the Big Red Dog and Ghostbusters Afterlife on Friday and Saturday. Tickets for the double feature are $12 for adults and $9 for kids ages 4-12. Kids under 4 are free.
Sculpture in the Garden
North Carolina Botanical Garden is hosting Sculpture in the Garden through December 5th. It’s closed on UNC Chapel Hill university holidays, including Thanksgiving. It’s free to visit, but a $5 donation is suggested. Check out over 60 sculptures in the garden.
Try one of these hikes
Get outside and try one of these 15 hiking trails around the Triangle. If you’ve got young kids in your pack, try one of these Triangle hikes that are especially great for kids. Also, several North Carolina State Parks are offering guided hikes Thanksgiving Weekend.
Winter Wonderland With Goats
Spring Haven Farm, in Chapel Hill, is hosting Winter Wonderland with Goats from November 17th to December 23rd. The event takes place Wednesday to Sunday of each week, with the exception of Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Tickets are $13.50 and you need to purchase them in advance. You’ll get to snuggle baby goats, take the Polar Express Tractor Train Ride, visit the Snowflake Barn and Santa’s Workshop, and snuggle goats. Did we say that already?
Go Christmas Tree Shopping
Many of the Christmas tree farms and lots open the day after Thanksgiving. Check out our list of Christmas tree farms and lots in the Triangle. At many, you can choose your own tree and have it cut for you. Others offer Fraser Firs pre-cut, from the mountains.
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
North Carolina Museum of Natural Science in downtown Raleigh is closed on Thanksgiving Day but open the rest of the weekend. Free timed-entry tickets are required.
North Carolina Museum of History
The North Carolina Museum of History is also closed on Thanksgiving Day but open the rest of the weekend. Tickets are not required.
North Carolina Museum of Art
As with the other two state museums, North Carolina Museum of Art is closed on Thanksgiving Day, but open the rest of the weekend. Free, timed-entry tickets are required.
North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival
This is one of the “splurge events,” but is not to be missed! After a year off, the North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival is at Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary from November 19th, 2021, to January 9th, 2022. You can save a little bit of money by purchasing tickets for specific days, in advance. There are also discounts for seniors (age 55+), military, college students, and kids ages 3-12. Kids under 3 are admitted or free.