SF Bay Area Thanksgiving 2018

Dinner Ideas, Events, Holiday Activities, & Sports

You will find plenty of fun things to do in the SF Bay Area this Thanksgiving Day and Weekend. Top options include sporting events, concerts, and fun activities for the entire family. The weekend is also full of tree lighting ceremonies, festivals, and theater productions.

My guide includes options in Oakland, San Jose, San Francisco, Berkeley and other cities around the bay.

SF Bay Area Thanksgiving

Disclaimer: I receive a small commission from some of the links on this page.

Thanksgiving Day

You will find a variety of activities all around the SF Bay this Thanksgiving Day. They include Turkey Trots, places to enjoy a holiday meal with the family, tours, and admission to some of our top attractions.

SF Bay Area Thanksgiving Restaurant Recommendations

If you plan to head out to eat in the SF Bay Area for Thanksgiving Day, you will find plenty of options. Make sure to book your tables early as they often fill up quickly. Here are some of my top picks around the bay.

San Francisco

Zingari Restaurante & Jazz Bar: 3-course menu for $85 per person, children's menu available, Downtown/Union Square

Bouche: Prix fix menu from 3pm to 10pm, Downtown/Union Square

Grill at the St. Regis: 4-course meal served from 4:30pm to 9:30pm, SOMA

>> Additional options for dinner in SF

Oakland & East Bay

Lungomare: Oakland/Italian (1 Broadway), special menu from Noon to 8pm

Skate's On The Bay: Berkeley (100 Seawall Drive), Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner with all the fixings

Faz Pleasanton: Traditional buffet with turkey and all the fixings, seatings from 10am to 3pmm and 4pm to 8pm, Adults $48, Kids 12 and under $25, Under 3 are free, Pleasanton (5121 Hopyard Road)

Sabio on Main: Pleasanton (501 Main Street)

Black Angus Dublin: Dublin (4814 Dublin Blvd)

Peninsula, San Jose & South Bay

Bistro Vida: Menlo Park (641 Santa Cruz Avenue), 3 course menu, $48 per person or their limited dinner menu, serving from 12pm to 8pm

LB Steak-Santana Row: San Jose (334 Santana Row, #1000), Open from 11:30am to 9pm, 4-course prix fix for $70 per person

Left Bank Santana Row: San Jose (377 Santana Row), 4 course prix fixed meal, limited regular menu and special kids' menu available, $56.00 per person

Quattro Restaurant and Bar at the Four Seasons: Palo Alto (2050 University Avenue), table style three course meal for $120 for adults and $45 for kids under 12

North Bay

Left Bank - Larkspur: Larkspur (507 Magnolia Avenue), 4 course prix fixed, does not include beverages, special bar and kids' menus, $56 per person

Insalata's: San Anselmo/Mediterranean (120 Sir Francis Drake Blvd), 3 course prix fixed, $64 per person, $26 for children under 12

Wine Country

Tarla Grill: Napa/Mediterranean (1480 First Street), 3 course prix fixed menu as well as limited regular menu

Charlie Palmer Steak Napa: Napa (1260 First Street), traditional holiday feast, $72 per person

Gravenstein Grill: Sebastopol (8050 Bodega Avenue), locally source Willie Bird Turkey and other sides including squash and pumpkin stew, vegetarian options available

the girl & the fig: Sonoma (110 West Spain), Thanksgiving Dinner serves from 12pm to 8pm

Spoonbar - h2hotel: Healdsburg (219 Healdsburg Avenue), 4-course meal with Turkey (vegan and vegetarian options available), $65 per person, $35 for kids

Find a table for these and at other SF Bay Area restaurants on Thanksgiving Day on OpenTable.com.

Turkey Trots

You will find several great Turkey Trots around the SF Bay Area on Thanksgiving Day. Top picks include those in Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Marin, and wine country.

>> Find my 16 top picks here

Other Things to Do: SF Bay Area Thanksgiving

You will find several other fun things to do this holiday in the SF Bay. Here are 7 fun ideas to check out.

1. SF Botanical Gardens: Enjoy the beauty of the SF Botanical Gardens for free on Thanksgiving day. With over 55 acres of landscaped gardens, and over 8,000 different types of plants, it can be your little oasis in an otherwise busy holiday season. Opens at 7:30 am and closes at 5 pm. Learn more here.

2. Outdoor Ice Skating Rinks: If you want to get out and exercise a bit, there are over 16 different ice skating rinks around the bay area. They range from San Jose, Monterey, San Francisco, Marin, and and over to the East Bay. If you want to find out more about them, visit this page with my top picks each year.

3. Muir Woods: Just north of San Francisco is the incredible Muir Woods National Park. This park has redwood trees that hundreds of years old and massive beyond belief. The park is open from 8 am to 5 pm and you will want to plan ahead as the park is often quite busy and hard to find parking during busy days. Additional details to visiting.

4. Pier 39: Pier 39 is always full of fun any day of the year and today is no exception. Stores are open, musicians are playing, and performers are out to entertain you all day long. There are so many choices, it will be hard to decide what to do and see.

5. Aquarium of the Bay: Also located on Pier 39, this is a must visit for the whole family before, or after, you have your meal. Open from 10 am to 5 pm, you will be able to see local wildlife, displays about the bay, see shark feedings (no turkey!) and so much more. More to see and do here.

6. California Academy of Sciences: The California Academy of Sciences has a full days worth of learning, excitement and experiments for you to enjoy. From storytelling yoga, to the Dark Universe show in the Planetarium, and always loved penguin feedings, you will have your fill of things to do. Opens at 9:30 and closes at 3 pm. Find tickets for Thanksgiving Day here.

7. Hayward Japanese Gardens: Open from 8:30 am to 4 pm, this incredibly serene and calm garden is a perfect way to take time and give thanks for everything. Being that this garden is not as well known as others, you may be surprised by how quiet and empty it is even during Thanksgiving.

>> Find a full list of what's open on Thanksgiving in SF

>> Discover a full calendar of Thanksgiving Day activities in San Francisco

SF Bay Area Thanksgiving Weekend

Theater: SF Bay Area Thanksgiving Weekend

Cirque du Soleil: Catch a performance of Cirque du Soleil's Volta Under the Big Top near Oracle Park (formerly AT&T Park) in San Francisco. This colorful show is about finding what you seek inside of yourself. With colorful costumes and daring acrobats, this is one you will not want to miss. Find performances all weekend long including one performance on Thanksgiving Day.

Mary Poppins in SF: Head over to the SF Playhouse for one of this weekend's biggest theater productions. It follows the story of the classic movie and will make you want to sing "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" all night long. It's the perfect show for the entire family. Find a full calendar of upcoming performances.

The Wizard of Oz, Berkeley: Follow Dorthy and her new friends on an amazing adventure through The Wizard of Oz. Watch them as they follow the yellow brick road this SF Bay Area Thanksgiving Day Weekend. There are two shows on Friday (1pm and 7pm), two shows on Saturday (1pm and 7pm) and one show on Sunday (2pm). Find a full calendar of shows around the SF Bay Area.

Sporting Events: SF Bay Area Thanksgiving Weekend

You will find several SF Bay Area sports teams in action this Thanksgiving Day Weekend including the Golden State Warriors and the San Jose Sharks Hockey team.

The Golden State Warriors: The NBA World Championship Golden State Warriors welcome two teams to Oracle Arena this holiday weekend. They take on the Portland Trailblazers on Friday night at 7:30pm. They turn around for a second game on Saturday night at 5:30pm against the Sacramento Kings. Come see stars like Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green play their best.

San Jose Sharks: How about a little rough and tough ice hockey on your Friday night? Well, the SAP Center is the place as the San Jose Sharks are again in the hunt for the Stanley Cup this year. The Vancouver Canucks always put up a good fight and this should be a fantastic match. This game is on Friday, the 23rd and starts at 6 pm.

Cal Bears Football: The California Bears football team will take the field at Memorial Stadium this SF Bay Area Thanksgiving Day Weekend. They will take on the Colorado Buffalos on Saturday afternoon in Berkeley.


You will find all kinds of great music events this Thanksgiving Weekend. Fleetwood Mac is playing at Oracle Arena in Oakland and that's one of the biggest shows this weekend. You will also find top performances at venues all around the SF Bay Area.

Make sure to check the list below and see everyone that is coming to the SF Bay Area during Thanksgiving weekend as you may want to see more than one.

>> Find a full schedule of top Thanksgiving weekend concerts

Tree Lighting Ceremonies & Other Holiday Events

Union Square: Probably the most famous tree lighting ceremony is this one with a reusable 83 foot tall tree that has over 30,000 lights and more than 1,100 decorations on it. The celebration starts on Friday the 23rd at 6 pm and lasts until 7 pm and the lighting is at 6:40 pm. More about this celebration here.

Cannery Row Tree Lighting: Cannery Row is home to Monterey's best tree lighting. As well as seeing the tree being lit, you can also meet Santa, his reindeers and hear carolers welcome in the season. The lighting is on Friday, the 23rd. More events in Monterey this month.

Pagiacci: The San Jose Opera performs Pagiacci this weekend at the California Theater. Based on a true story, the opera is about an acting couple. The wife is cheating on the husband and he confronts her on stage during a performance. The husband ends up stabbing both his wife and her lover on stage during the show. More about this show and ticketing information.

Gobble Con: Ready to meet some new people and play a lot of games? Then this is the place for you with over 52 hours of board games, role playing, miniatures (even if you don't play games, these are so cute to see), and so much more that your day will fly by without even realizing it. This event is family friendly and fun for all to attend. It runs from Friday the 23rd through Sunday the 25th.

Harvest Festival in San Jose: This 3 day event, starting on Friday, the 23rd and ending on Sunday, the 25th, is a massive compilation of different styles of music, bands, and even has a kid-zone for kids to play in when you want to rock out. Discounted tickets for seniors, military and kids with 12 and under being free. Find tickets at up to 50% off on Goldstar.

Point Reyes Open Studios: The beauty of Point Reyes is a must see for everyone and especially when the artist allow you in to see their ceramics, painting, sculptures and other pieces of art in person. If you are looking for gifts for the holidays, or just something for yourself, you will be glad you came and enjoyed this event. The event runs Friday, the 23rd to Sunday, the 25th and is free.

Gualala Arts Festival of Trees: This wonderful three day event is a joy for all who see it. Starting on Friday, there is a tree lighting and carolers to help you welcome in the holiday season. Cookies, cakes, and all kinds of other scrumptious desserts will be on hand as you welcome Santa, Mrs. Claus, their reindeer and even the Grinch (Boo!). Food and drink is available and this family friendly event is free for all.

San Rafael Winter Wonderland: It is a rare day when San Rafael gets snow, but this is one of those days! This annual event always includes great food, arts and crafts, snow sledding, and lots of live entertainment and children's activities. This event starts at noon on Friday with the parade starting at 5:30 pm and ends at the San Rafael City Plaza tree lighting. It is free to all, runs on Friday and Saturday, and is family friendly.

Gilroy Gardens - Holiday@Night: Gilroy Gardens is truly unlike any other place in the world with it's amazing designed trees and gorgeous gardens. Enjoy live entertainment, gourmet food, and delicious drinks as you take in the winter sights. There are also some rides that are open during Holiday@Night. This is a family friendly event but it is designed for adults to have fun and celebrate. This event runs specific nights between November 23 and December 31.

Santa Rosa Winter Lights: Santa Rosa's Downtown Courthouse Square is home to this wonderful tree lighting event. Starting at 4 pm on Friday the 23rd, Santa will arrive on top of a fire truck for all to enjoy. There is food and drink for all, including adult beverages, and kids can play in a bouncy house, do arts and crafts, and much more. It ends at 10 pm.

Six Flags Holiday in the Park: An annual event not to be missed, you will want to experience the shows, games, and rides on select days starting November 23rd until New Year's Eve on the 31st (make sure check for exact dates and times). You can meet Santa, and check out the new displays, rides and shows that are only around for this holiday season. You will not believe how much there is to do and see!

Christmas in the Park: Starting on Friday, the 23rd at 6 pm, you are invited to meet Santa at San Jose's Plaza de Cesar Chavez and watch the beautiful tree lighting at night. Many special guests will be there to perform and make your holiday experience the best you can ever imagine! This experience runs through December 25th.

Black Friday Shopping

Black Friday in SF: It is time to get your shopping on! There are many options for you to choose from including Union Square, Westfield Mall, Pier 39 and so much more. You will want to get started early so you can skip the crowds while still getting the best deals. If you want to escape the crowds, there are also tours, trips and lots of live concerts and events to choose from today. Find tips on where to shop.

Plaid Friday in Oakland: Based on the idea of weaving together all the local shops and merchants around Oakland, this is a great day to get deals and support the little mom and pop stores around the city. You will see special "plaid" signs in the windows of stores that are participating so you know which ones will be a part of this wonderful day.

Kids & Family-Friendly Activities this Weekend

Lake Merritt Boats: Depending on the weather, you might want to take a boat out on the lake in Oakland and enjoy the relaxation and scenery. You can rent canoes, rowboats, kayaks and more depending on your skill level. All rentals are cash only and the office is closed on the 23rd and 24th so plan ahead and check for updates on their site.

Oakland Zoo: Open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the Oakland Zoo is a great way to get outside, enjoy lots of wildlife, ride the train, fly over the zoo in the gondola, and check out other events that are going on all day long. Food and drink is available to purchase. The zoo opens at 10 am each day and closes at different depending on the day you visit it.

Berkeley's Victory Point Cafe: Want to play a few games and have a few adult beverages at the same time? Then this is where you want to be this weekend. Costing just $5, and giving you the ability to play as many games as you want, and stay as long as you want, this is a great deal and a great time. They have a full menu of food and drinks so you can stay all day long and escape the shopping crowds.

Children's Fairyland in Oakland: Time to become a kid again and enjoy one of the most famous places in Oakland's long history at Fairyland. Open the day before Thanksgiving, and the whole weekend after it, this magical playland has been a joy for kids of all ages for as long as anyone can remember. It opens at 10 am and closes at 4pm and you MUST be accompanied by a child to enter and no child is admitted without a parent. The cost for anyone over 1 year old is $10.

East Bay Region Parks Family & Kids Activities: There are so many activities happening this weekend that it will be hard to decide which ones to choose. They range from butterfly exhibits and talks, the Hazel Atlas Mine tour, to Meet the Newts (the rainy season brings out this cute little guys), and so much more. Check the schedule each day for what seems best for you and your family.

SF Bay Thanksgiving: Restaurant Recommendations, Turkey Trots, Sporting Events, & More

More Tips to Plan Your Stay This Weekend

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Hi there! I'm Jill and I love writing about San Francisco travel as much as I love exploring my amazing city. Thanks for stopping by and please contact me if you have any questions before your trip.

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