Celebrate Thanksgiving in Detroit: Family-Friendly Things to Do Thanksgiving Weekend
Thanksgiving in Detroit is one of my favorite times all year to be in and around the city of Detroit.
The City goes all out for a great holiday season kickoff with tons of great activities and events. Thanksgiving may be the biggest holiday for the City of Detroit in terms of events and celebrations taking place.
For some, Thanksgiving weekend in Detroit is a homecoming of sorts: Detroiters and metro Detroiters from all over return to the city to visit the special places in the city they know and love, like Belle isle, Eastern Market, Campus Martius Park, the Detroit Riverwalk and others.
It is a truly epic time of the year, so I’ve prepared a list to help you make the most of the fun Thanksgiving weekend in Detroit.
Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot
Looking for a way to erase all of the post-Thanksgiving Dinner guilt? Then start your Thanksgiving Day the Detroit way with the Annual Turkey Trot.
The Strategic Staffing Solution Turkey Trot offers a variety of events including a 10K, 5K and one-mile, all with fun festive names. Whether you try the Stuffing Strut or the Mashed Potato Mile, this is a truly awesome way for you and the whole family to start the Thanksgiving celebration.
The event takes place on the streets of downtown Detroit and is packed with 20 thousand plus people. This is a big event in the city.
America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
The next big event of Detroit Thanksgiving weekend is Detroit’s Thanksgiving Giving Parade. This is one of the biggest and best Thanksgiving parades in the country with amazing and elaborate floats that the Detroit Parade Company works on all year long.
This event is a spectacle and I urge those who can to try and make it out one year, especially if you have younger children. It’s an amazing experience. With nearly a million people coming out for the parade each year and millions more tuned in at home this may be the place to be in the country on Thanksgiving morning.
Thanksgiving Day Family Fun Fest at the Majestic
Want to stay warm while watching the Detroit Thanksgiving Parade? Head to the Majestic, 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48201, at 7 am.
Enjoy a delicious breakfast buffet and watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade march down Woodward Avenue from the warmth of The Majestic Theatre Lobby or Garden Bowl Lounge. The buffet menu includes biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, sausage, pancakes, french toast, hash browns, fruit, cheese, hummus, pita, paczkis, assorted pastries, and more.
Detroit Lions Annual Thanksgiving Day Football Game at Ford Field
A main event for many Detroiters, the Detroit Lions Annual Thanksgiving Day Football Game is not just for die-hard fans, this a really fun event, with an extra-special festive and exciting feel throughout the beautiful stadium.
Generally the first game of the NFL Thanksgiving slate, the Detroit Lions (everyone’s favorite Michigan sports team) play every year on Thanksgiving, and It’s amazing. No matter the team’s record or the state of the franchise each and every year on Thanksgiving thousands of Lions fans flock to Ford Field to cheer on their team.
The festivities get going early as tailgaters have been known to make full Thanksgiving dinners for the pregame tailgate. All eyes are on Detroit every Thanksgiving, and it’s something the fans have embarrassed and cherish.
More Thanksgiving Parades in Michigan
Thanksgiving weekend is when a lot of the cities around Detroit host their local Holiday Parades, so check out our story here for a list of all those great Holiday Parades. The metro Detroit area loves to start the holidays right with these fun family friendly parades. These are some of the biggest and best community events of the year.
More Ways to Celebrate Thanksgiving in Detroit
Visit the Detroit Downtown Markets and Cadillac Lodge
Cadillac Square comes alive during the holiday season. This is one of the most fun spots to shop this holiday season. Whether you’re window shopping or on a spree, you can find locally made, one-of-a-kind gifts from a collection of curated Detroit vendors offering specialty apparel, accessories, jewelry, bath products, home décor, children’s toys, pet goods, books, snacks and more in this outdoor marketplace.
Cadillac Square is also home to the Cadillac Lodge.
The warm and cozy gathering space offers an assortment of beverages, toasty treats, board games, and more for everyone to enjoy. The market hours are Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays 11am to 8pm and Fridays and Saturdays 11am to 11pm.
Hit the Monroe Street Midway
The Monroe Street Midway, 32 Monroe Street, Detroit, MI, is new to Michigan this winter and is a fun-filled, family-friendly good time. There’s outdoor fun for everyone, with rides, games and snacks – all located across from Campus Martius Park. Be sure and try the Artic Slide and the other activities going on.
Black Friday Shopping
Trying to enjoy Black Friday in Detroit? Try the Somerset Collection in Troy or Great Lakes Crossing Outlet Mall in Auburn Hills, both are fantastic malls with tons of great places to shop that will hopefully have some great Black Friday deals.
Detroit also has tons of great small businesses so if you can try to go out on Small Business Saturday and shop some of these great shops and boutiques. Be sure to check our guide to the best outlet malls in Michigan.
Go Ice Skating at Campus Martius Park
Round up some family and friends, pull on your hats and mittens and head down to the open air Ice Skating Rink at Campus Martius. Situated on Woodward Avenue in Downtown Detroit, the Rink offers one of the most beautiful and iconic skating experiences in the country and continues to be a top destination for the entire region and State of Michigan.
Surrounded by the beautiful holiday decorations and towering buildings, this is such a fun way to kick off the holiday season.
Get up close and personal with the beautiful Detroit skyline. The Detroit Riverwalk stretches out for three and a half miles along the Detroit River, stretching from the Joe Louis Arena to Gabriel Richard Park. A leisurely trip down the Riverwalk includes visiting scenic parks, eating at unique restaurants, and enjoying the variety of attractions and plazas that most east riverfronts don’t come close to offering.
Visit Belle Isle
Take a ride to this spectacular 982-acre island in the middle of the Detroit River, is the perfect example of history and natural beauty in the midst of a metropolis. The natural beauty of Belle Isle is a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season (last Thanksgiving I spotted a Bald Eagle just hanging out atop a bare tree). Stop by the Belle Isle Aquarium, open to the public every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 4 p.m. with free admission and free parking.
See Elf the Musical at the Fox Theatre
See the heartwarming story of Buddy the Elf performed live as this hit Broadway musical visits Detroit. Follow along as Buddy visits New York City during the Christas season as you enjoy the stunning, historic Fox Theatre at 2211 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201. Multiple performances throughout the weekend.
More Michigan Sports Games
Are you a fan of Michigan sports teams? The final big event for Michigananders on Thanksgiving weekend is often the University of Michigan Vs Ohio State football game. This is one of the biggest and fiercest rivalries in the history of College Football and Michigan is lucky enough to host this event every other year.
The game takes place at the Big House in Ann Arbor. This is one of the best football atmospheres in the country and a great way to end Thanksgiving weekend. Thanksgiving weekend and especially Thanksgiving day in Detroit is a special time with so much cool stuff going on.
More Michigan Thanksgiving Holiday Fun
About the Author–
Cy Nardone is a Content Creator for mymichiganbeach. He grew up in Grosse Pointe and attended Grosse Pointe South High School. He went on to attend Wayne State then Michigan State University where he majored in Sports Journalism. Cy is a lifelong Detroit sports fan who loves food. Cy looks forward to expanding our Metro Detroit content and hopes to turn you on to a new spot to adventure or eat.