Whether you have friends and family visiting for Thanksgiving Day Weekend, or you’re looking for something to do to get out of the house, we have the list for you! We’ve gathered LOTS of things to do Thanksgiving weekend in Columbus besides eating turkey and shopping (though we included a few unique shopping experiences that are good for just browsing).
Check out our featured events, plus a list of every free event we have on the calendar from Wednesday, November 25, through Sunday, November 29, 2020.
We also included a few experiences that aren’t free, but are great if you want to splurge and show out of town guests a special holiday experience, like Wildlights at the Zoo and more!
Restaurants open on Thanksgiving in Columbus in 2020
Thanksgiving is a popular day to dine out! We’ve gathered a big list of places to dine in Columbus on Thanksgiving. We also have some options of to-go and prepared heat and eat holiday meals on the list.
Fully Cooked Thanksgiving Meals
Don’t want to cook OR dine out for Thanksgiving? We have a huge list of places to get a fully cooked Thanksgiving meal that you can just reheat and eat.
Downtown Holiday Festivities in Urbana; Holiday Horse Parade Cancelled
Friday, November 27 from 3 – 8 pm. Celebrate the season with holiday activities for the whole family and welcome the holidays to Historic Downtown Urbana, Ohio. The Horse Parade is cancelled for 2020, but there will be plenty of other festivities, along with street carolers and festive music all day. In addition, you can visit Downtown Urbana all season on Friday and Saturday nights for more festive fun and holiday decorations.
- 10:00am – Downtown shops begin to open V
- 11:00am – Street vendors open
- 4:00pm – Carriage Rides Begin
- 5:30pm – Tree Lighting Ceremony at Legacy Park
- 6:00pm – Santa Arrives at Santa Land at Oxner’s General Store
- 7:30pm – Santa Land at Oxner’s General Store Opens
Enjoy carriage rides, sidewalk shopping, live music, and Santa in Downtown Worthington on Sunday, November 29, 2020. Head to the Village Green for carolers and the annual tree lighting at dusk. The tree will be re-lit every 1/2 hour from 6 pm – 8 pm to allow groups of people to enjoy the event at different times rather than in one crowd.
Santa will be available for free contact-free photos from November 7 – December 24; hours vary based on day. A 4×6 studio quality photo with Santa is free (package options are available), and the set and Santa are authentic and festive! The store is fun to explore, and they are open on Thanksgiving and the day after for select hours. Reservations are required in advance, and the entire experience is set up to be safe, sanitized, and socially distanced.
All Oakland Nursery locations have special holiday fun on weekends from November 23-December 13, 2020, including live music, seasonal delights, socially-distanced Santa, holiday treats, and more!
All Season. Drive around Columbus and enjoy the display of lights in various neighborhoods – for free! Check out the Christmas Lights Finder website to search near your neighborhood – or use it to take a tour around Columbus!
Flying Horse Farms in Mt. Gilead will “flip the switch” on “Light Up Camp” on Thanksgiving, November 26, and will be open every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evening through Sunday, December 27, including Christmas Eve and Christmas. The half-mile drive through the property will feature festively decorated camp buildings and showcase a 12-minute animated light show at the center of camp. All visitors must remain in their cars for the entire event.
The light display will include more than 8,000 individual bulbs and more than 3 miles of lights. The event is free, but donations are highly appreciated and suggested. Donations are used for camps and programming to allow children with severe medical conditions to enjoy a camp experience.
November 25, 2020 through January 3, 2021, downtown Columbus with be lit with more than 200,000 lights for the Holiday Light Display. This spectacular display will span Columbus Commons, the Lazarus Building and along the Scioto Mile.
November 20, 2020 – January 3, 2021 from dusk to 11 pm. Check out more than 400,000 LED lights dazzle Columbus Commons park, thanks to a generous contribution from American Electric Power.
Thanksgiving – January 1, 2021. Glenross subdivision in Delaware and has around 250 houses with light displays choreographed to Christmas music played on 94.1FM. The displays will run from 5-9pm Sunday-Thursday and 5-11pm Friday & Saturday. Check out the website at www.lightsofglenross.com or like Lights of Glenross on Facebook for more info. Ballater Dr., Delaware, Ohio 43015.
Thanksgiving through December. Display features 100,000 Christmas Lights that dance to music. The show is every night (weather permitting) from 6:00pm – 10:00pm Sunday thru Thursday and 6:00pm – 11:00pm Friday and Saturday. Check Facebook to see the coordinating radio station and details for 2020. Address: 649 Old Coach Rd. Westerville Ohio 43081.
This drive-thru Christmas light experience features 6 houses over 7.5 acres. The show runs from Black Friday to the first week of January, dusk until 10pm Sun-Thurs and until 11 on Friday and Saturday. In order to manage traffic, there is a loop to drive. You enter at Frabell Dr and exit on Springdale Dr. Make sure you read about the history of Lucy Depp Park – it’s fascinating! Address: Frabell Dr. Powell, OH 43065
There is a donation box located at the entrance to the show for Peace for Paws Ohio, an amazing non-profit dog rescue organization. Please consider making a donation!
This isn’t a traditional Christmas lights display, but it’s a lit up Holiday Village Window Display that you’ll want to check out.
DeFourney Realtors have created a “Pop-Up” Holiday Village window display at 4443 N. High St. This free, convenient, and socially distanced display can be enjoyed through the front windows anytime and will be lit from 3 PM – 10 PM each day through Christmas. The miniature village features many neighborhoods modeled after Clintonville / Beechwold / Tremont Gardens. There are hundreds of little details to discover! Knowing our community’s need, a collection box for non-perishables for CRC will also be on hand for any wishing to donate items.
Annual Lighting of the Licking County Courthouse on Black Friday will be held virtually in 2020. Details tba. Be sure to drive through Newark during the holiday season to enjoy the beautifully lit Courthouse square.
Write Santa Letters!
Drop off letters to Santa at the Santa Mailboxes all over the city!
Obviously it’s a HUGE shopping weekend, but you can always just browse! Support local business for Small Business Saturday! Most shopping districts (think Uptown Westerville, Short North, etc) are having special events for Small Business Saturday.
Free Museum Visits
Columbus Museum of Art, Downtown Columbus
Columbus Museum of Art features a fantastic collection of exhibits and art, as well as interactive and exploratory creativity for all ages. Get FREE Sunday admission for all thanks to a PNC Arts Alive grant. Hours are 10 am – 5 pm. There are fun activities for all ages!
Ohio Craft Museum, Columbus near Grandview
The Ohio Craft Museum is a program of Ohio Designer Craftsmen, presenting five major exhibitions each year, plus exhibits and a rotating display of the permanent collection. The museum houses the Craft Research Library and offers educational workshops and events for all ages and levels of experience. Hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Saturday and Sundays 1 – 4 p.m. Admission to the Ohio Craft Museum is free; programming requires registration fees. They also have the Gifts of the Craftsman Sale going on, in case you want to do a little shopping.
Cultural Arts Center, Downtown Columbus
The Cultural Arts Center is Central Ohio’s premier visual arts center featuring contemporary art and emphasizing emerging artists. They offer hands-on instruction, a learning hub and creative space. Free tours, workshops, and other programming is available, while some require registration fees. HOURS: Mon, 1pm-4pm & 7pm-10pm, Tue-Thu 9am-4pm & 7pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 9am-4pm, Sun Closed. Closed on Thanksgiving.
Ohio Statehouse, Downtown Columbus
Capitol Square includes the Ohio Statehouse, Senate Building and Atrium. The buildings are not only working government offices but magnificent monuments to the people and the period during which Ohio’s democracy was founded and formed.
Guided tours are currently suspended, but you are welcome to take a self-guided tour if you practice distancing and wear face coverings. Please note that while the Ohio Statehouse is open to the public on the weekends, the House and Senate Chambers are kept locked, and are only available to be viewed during guided tours.
Turkey Trots and Holiday Races
Run off some turkey! There are tons of turkey trots and holiday races with great swag, as well as other fun races after Thanksgiving!
Columbus Metro Parks and Preservation Parks Hikes
Take a hike! It’s the perfect chance to walk off some Thanksgiving food and enjoy nature before the weather gets too cold. Columbus and Delaware (and surrounding counties) are home to some amazing Metro Parks and hiking trails, so enjoy a favorite or pick a new one! Please check current mask guidelines before you visit a metro park.
Events with admission or fees
If you have out of town guests and are willing to spend a little more money, here are some experiences they may enjoy.
November 20, 2020 – January 3, 2021 Don’t miss the Columbus Zoo Christmas lights for 2020 featuring Columbus Zoo Christmas lights and festivities featuring displays of millions of LED lights and holiday sights and sounds. Reservations are required; regular admission applies, except for free nights listed below. Members get free admission. Parking is $10/car for non-members.
Check out the beauty of Easton during the holidays on a Easton Holiday Carriage Ride! Available weekends from November 20 – December 21, 2020; Saturdays from 6-10 p.m., and Sundays from 3-7 p.m. Additional carriage rides are Friday, November 20, 6-10 pm & Monday, December 21, 6-10 pm.
Admission is $10, children under 15 ride free with paying adult.
November 20, 2020 – January 3, 2021. Enjoy 3 miles of holiday lights at Alum Creek light, and stop by Santa’s House after the show $20-$30 per car.
November 14, 2020 – January 10, 2021. Admission is $12 – $22. Members pay reduced admission. Holiday displays and activities at the Franklin Park Conservatory, including live entertainment, gingerbread contest, and more. There are both in person and virtual events. Reservations are required for all visits, and safety protocols are in place.
November 13, 2020 – January 3, 2021 from 5:30 pm to 10:00 pm. Open rain, shine, or snow. National Trail Raceway, 2650 National Road SW, Hebron, OH 43025
Come see over 1 million LED lights synchronized to traditional and newer Christmas music played through your own car stereo. Pack your vehicle full of friends and family to enjoy the show. Tickets are $7.00 per person. Children Age 3 & Under: FREE! Or get a Carload Special for up to 7 passengers for only $30.
Friday, November 20 through December 23, open every day except Thanksgiving. Located about an hour and fifteen minutes SW of Columbus, the Christmas Ranch features a Christmas Village with a combination drive-thru/walk-thru experience featuring approximately 1 Million LED lights which dance with the music. Drive through to see the lights and park to visit areas of Christmas Ranch. Shop in 6 Christmas shops, grab a treat at Santa’s Bakery or the Elves food truck (walk-up window and outdoor seating), and visit with Santa. See details for all changes for 2020 here.
November 27 – December 30, 2020 from 5 – 9 p.m. (lights turn on at 6 p.m.) On Christmas Eve and Christmas they close at 8 pm. Enjoy 4 million lights, outdoor miniature village, Santa Claus Museum, and nostalgic Toy Collection. You can’t visit Santa, but you can peek into Santa’s Workshop to see Santa at work until December 23. Every 15 minutes or so, watch him check his list and go up the chimney to load his sleigh. Food is available for purchase except on Christmas.
Cost is $10 ages 4 and older; under 3 are free. Food and drink for sale. Saturday is the most crowded night; the attraction is less crowded on weekdays. Located near Yellow Springs, 40 miles SW of Columbus
More Free and Cheap Fun
Wednesday, November 25, 2020
Thursday, November 26, 2020
Friday, November 27, 2020
Saturday, November 28, 2020
Sunday, November 29, 2020
Some of the events below are from 2019. We are working on the updates for 2020 as events are released.
tba for 2020. The Christmas Shoppe will be open and we will be selling Christmas trees while available. Enjoy various holiday activities, including Santa, wagon rides, smores, music, and more. See Facebook for event schedule.
Huntington Holiday Train at the Main Library
tba for 2020. This fixture of the downtown holiday scene has delighted people of all ages since 1992 with its trains, tracks, tunnels, bridges and replicas of historic German homes and castles. See the Huntington Holiday Train display Nov. 20 through Jan. 2 during Main Library’s regular hours. Free one-hour parking in the library garage. Check hours and holiday closures here.
Cancelled until further notice
Riffe Gallery, Vern Riffe Center in Downtown Columbus
Closed until further notice The Ohio Arts Council’s Riffe Gallery showcases the work of Ohio’s artists and the collections of the state’s museums and galleries. Admission is always free and exhibitions feature a quarterly rotating feature. Programming is free and open to all, including opening receptions for exhibits, artist talks, and more.
Turkeys, Traditions and Thanksgiving: cancelled for 2020 from 1-3 pm.
Learn about some holiday customs including the use of corn, pumpkins and other foods, and the butchering of the turkey at the Farmhouse. All Ages.
Indoor Amusements: cancelled for 2020 from 1-3 pm.
It’ll be a long, cold winter, so having new ways to entertain your family indoors is always a good thing. Try some indoor games and toys, and challenge your mind with 19th century puzzles. Registration not required. All Ages.
Walk with a Doc at Highbanks: Cancelled until further notice Walking program for everyone interested in taking steps for a healthier lifestyle. Dr. Sabgir of Mount Carmel Clinical Cardiovascular Specialists will lead the walk featuring blood pressure checks, pedometers, healthy snacks, recipes and information to make better lifestyle changes, and opportunities to talk with the docs. Walks will be indoor at the Polaris Mall in the cooler months. See the list of other Walk with a Doc events.
Free Sunday Funday Yoga at lululemon: In-person classes cancelled until further notice. Take a free yoga or fitness class at lululemon Easton and Polaris on Sunday mornings.
Free Fitness Classes at Athleta Easton: In-person classes cancelled until further notice. Athleta offers free fitness classes and events throughout the month; check calendar for details.
Thanksgiving Family Friday: Sports at Ohio History Center. Cancelled for 2020 Celebrate how Ohioans have left their mark on the world of sports! Enjoy hands-on crafts, hear the stories behind objects on display, learn about sports connections in exhibits other than Ohio – Champion of Sports and more. Admission $7-$13; free for members.