Although it’s more traditional to sit around a table and take turns talking about what you’re thankful for, not everyone likes to spend their Thanksgiving that way. In fact, many members of the LGBTQ+ community prefer not to celebrate the holidays at a table or with family. For many LGBTQ people, Thanksgiving is all about enjoying time with loved ones – in a way that’s distinctly queer – whether it’s dining with their chosen family or forgoing all customs and doing alternative activities instead.
If you want to celebrate the Thanksgiving holi-gay in a special way, check out some of our queer-friendly holiday ideas below:
1. Have A Thanksgiving Picnic
Instead of having a festive dinner, why not have a turkey sandwich picnic? Pick one of Florida’s many natural preserves or national parks and spend the day outside in the sunshine. Just be sure to check that the park is open when you’re going because hours might be affected by the holiday.
2. Spend The Holiday At A Theme Park
Theme parks like Disney World and Universal Studios have special events and serve food on holidays. They are sure to be full on the days around Thanksgiving, especially on Friday and Saturday. Beat the crowds by going on Thanksgiving day itself. When everyone else is celebrating with turkey, you can be riding roller coasters and partying with your favorite characters.
3. Plan The Day At The Beach
Since the weather will be mild, you might as well take advantage and have yourself a beach day. It might seem like a strange way to spend Thanksgiving, but the people you spend Thanksgiving with are more important than the trappings of the holiday.
4. Go On A Hike
Work off the calories instead of piling them on! Florida has a ton of great nature walks and hikes that you can do this Thanksgiving. Go out and spend the day in nature in places like Highlands Hammock State Park or the Florida Trail. As most people will be at home, you’ll likely have the trail to yourself and you can spend the day carefree – just you, whomever you bring, and the great outdoors.
5. Enjoy A Staycation
Thanksgiving is one of the most stressful times to travel in the US. Instead of braving the roads and airports, plan a staycation at home by yourself or with your partner. Spend the money you would have spent on an overpriced plane ticket on some serious pampering, and do some self-care. You’ll thank yourself later!
6. Volunteer At a Soup Kitchen Or Food Pantry
Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful for everything that you have, so what better way to do it than to help those who are less fortunate than you? Instead of having a big fancy meal at home, serve a big fancy meal to the homeless or other vulnerable groups. Just remember that Thanksgiving is a big holiday for volunteers, so you might want to check in at your local soup kitchens to see how many people they need.
7. Have A Thanksgiving Episode Marathon
Most TV shows have Thanksgiving episodes. String them all together and watch them with your loved ones or your significant other. It’s a great way to feel the festive season, even if you happen to be stuck at home.
8. Run A Turkey Trot
Yet another way to spend the holiday outdoors and get some exercise before eating a big meal: find a 5k or 10k turkey trot nearby. Take it to the next level by entering themed races or running in a festive costume.
9. Volunteer At An LGBTQ Youth Club
There is a lot of LGBTQ youth who have nowhere to go on Thanksgiving. Check out your local queer youth organization to see what you can do for them. A little volunteering can go a long way on a holiday like this when everyone misses their families.
10. Take A Trip
This one might be a little bit harder than the rest, as traveling around Thanksgiving is notoriously inconvenient and expensive. But if you travel on Thanksgiving Day itself, you are sure to find lots of discounts.
Go on a trip somewhere in Florida, maybe someplace you’ve never been. You can check out the theatre in Sarasota or soak up the sun in Key West. As long as you drive or fly on off-peak times. you are sure to have a great (and affordable) time!
11. Party At A Festival
If you don’t want to be sitting around a table eating turkey, you could be getting your dance on in South Beach. It was understandably canceled in 2020, but this year, the URGE Miami Festival Beach Party is back! With DJs and lots of dancing, you won’t want to miss this out-of-the-box Thanksgiving event.
12. Arrange A Touch Football Game
While you traditionally watch football on Thanksgiving, playing football with friends is a more engaging way to spend the day. Arrange a friendly match between your loved ones, and give whoever wins a cheesy reward, like a trophy that can be passed onto the champion next year. Or just play for bragging rights! The important thing is to get out, get moving, and have fun with the most important people in your life.
There is so much pressure for people to spend Thanksgiving the way that people in the movies do, with a fancy homemade meal and autumnal decoration everywhere. But that might not be your style, and that’s okay!
We hope you take inspiration from these alternative things to do on Thanksgiving day. Remember that there is no wrong way to spend Thanksgiving. As long as you remember to be thankful for what you have and try to share the joy with others, you’ve got the Thanksgiving spirit!
***Disclaimer: There is a good chance that this post contains affiliate or sponsor links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you (for which we are extremely grateful).
Also, while we do our best to highlight LGBTQ-friendly destinations and businesses, info provided is based solely on personal experience and recommendations by community partners. We hope that nobody experiences discrimination or homophobia while visiting Florida, but we make no guarantees. Please inform us if you experience discrimination or homophobia while visiting any destination so we can make updates to our recommendations.