An Orphan’s Guide to Thanksgiving in LA

Thanksgiving in LA

Oh, Thanksgiving in LA. It’s that wonderful time of year when the weather has finally cooled down, the freeways inch forward marginally faster, and the foods are filled with comfort (and lots of pumpkin spice). However, if you’re a transplant, Thanksgiving also means making it back “home” for family dinner is one exorbitantly priced plane ticket away.

We get it, you’re supposed to be with family for the holidays, but dang, let’s stop holiday-shaming each other, shall we? After all, for many of us, going home just isn’t an option. Whether it’s that your family is too spread out, too small, they aren’t doing anything this year or you can’t afford the trek, we’re here to tell you that you don’t have to feel guilty. Maybe it’s simply that the thought of spending another Thanksgiving arguing politics with your aunt Ruth and trying to defend your freelance job for the millionth time just doesn’t excite you like it used to. Whatever your reason for riding out this Thanksgiving in the City of Angels, you’re not alone. Welcome to the Orphan’s Guide to Thanksgiving in LA.

’Tis the season to eat

Thanksgiving in LA

Host Friendsgiving

Trust us, you’re not the only one with no official plans for the holiday. Ask around and see if you can get a squad together for an LA Thanksgiving potluck. Check out this amazing guide to put together the ultimate Friendsgiving, but remember that, really, all you really need are warm feelings of togetherness (and maybe a turkey or tofurkey). 

Order takeout

If Friendsgiving sounds great besides the cooking part, there are a ton of restaurants in Los Angeles that do Thanksgiving dinner takeout. Here is a great list of some that will make incredible meals for you to take home. Standouts include Little Dom’s in Los Feliz for Eastsiders, Wexler’s Deli in Santa Monica for Westsiders, and Cafe Gratitude for every vegan in between. It’ll be just like that scene in Mrs. Doubtfire. All your friends will smile and say, “How lovely.” Don’t forget: For Thanksgiving, most restaurants require meals be reserved in advance and then picked up the day of. So last minute takeout will have fewer options.

Go to a restaurant

Maybe it’s not just the cooking that you want to avoid. Maybe the cleaning is just as scary. If tasty food is what you really want, you should probably go out for Thanksgiving dinner in LA. Let’s be real. A restaurant will probably make a turkey dinner so delicious, it would be pretty hard to compete. Prix-fixe menus around town range from $45 at the Pikey in West Hollywood for the laid back, to $140 at Craft LA in Century City for the decadent. Check out this list to see more options. You can also dine with the sea creatures at the Aquarium of The Pacific in Long Beach or mingle with the trees at Descanso Gardens if you want something really fun. 

Give back

In honor of the season of giving, you can attend and volunteer at Westside Thanksgiving, a beautiful community event where all are welcome to eat a free traditional turkey dinner, including the homeless, students, low-income families, and seniors. The event also offers free haircuts, blankets, clothing, hygiene kits, medical, optical, and dental services, vaccinations and a children’s carnival. Other great opportunities to give back for Thanksgiving in LA are Gobble Gobble Give and Dinner in the Park.

’Tis the season to relax

Thanksgiving in LA

Binge TV instead of turkey

If your favorite thing about the holidays is your red sweatpants, you can let Netflix and Chill can take on new holiday meaning. Catch up on Season 2 of Stranger Things or watch Season 2 of Maria Bamford’s Lady Dynamite, released on November 10th. For more options, here’s a complete list of what’s new on Netflix in November. Our recommendation? Any and all seasons of Chef’s Table. It’s the perfect show to watch over delicious Thanksgiving takeout. Or Thai. Whatever floats your gravy boat.

Go to a spa

Give thanks to your body and well-being by visiting 24-hour super-spa, Wi SpaCome alone, with your partner, in a group or with kids and spend the day in the Jimjilbang, which includes five different heated rooms, a lounge area with TV and wifi, library and computer room, restaurant and sleeping room. Get a basic body scrub to get skin as soft as yams or a massage to ease those tired muscles. Admission is $25 but it’s waived with the purchase of a service. What better way to give thanks for your body?

Go on a trip

Flights may be too expensive this time of year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take a mini-vacation somewhere within driving distance. This could be the perfect time to drive two hours north to Solvang and check out the windmills in “California’s Denmark.” You could also recharge your internal battery among the trees in Big Bear or stock up on crystals in Ojai. No car? Take the train to Santa Barbara or San Diego for a cool Thanksgiving ocean breeze. 

Get in the holiday spirit

Why not dive head-first into the holiday season? Lace up your skates and glide around the ice at ICE at Santa Monica or Holiday Ice Rink in Pershing Square. Get some holiday shopping in at Handmade LA at the Craft and Folk Art Museum in Miracle Mile on November 25th and 26th. Watch the floats go by in the heart of it all at the Hollywood Christmas Parade on Sunday, November 26th. We’re not sure who the hosts are this year, but fingers crossed it’ll be Erik Estrada and that guy that dresses up as Captain Jack Sparrow on Hollywood Boulevard.

P.S. – Where has all the spiced rum gone?

Wherever you decide to spend your Thanksgiving in LA, keep your holiday cheerful by reserving your parking space with Pavemint.

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