With Thanksgiving around tomorrow’s corner, if you’re sticking around town this year, you might want to do something different this year.  From feeding the homeless, to taking in a Laugh Factory show, I’ve put together a list of the best activities, volunteer opportunities, and places to go eat out this year.

Where to Eat

OpenTable.com has a full list of restaurants–from sushi to Italian and back to Chinese–that are open and serving during Thanksgiving.  But for a more traditional fare, check out these popular locations.

The Langham, Pasadena
A classic hotel offering a classic Thanksgiving champagne brunch buffet with live music in The Ballroom. Another (less expensive) option also available is the award-winning Royce and The Terrace.

Ocean & Vine at Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel
Ocean & Vine offers two Thanksgiving options from it’s ocean-view restaurant and terrace depending on what time you prefer to eat.  First is a Champagne Thanksgiving brunch from 11 am – 3 pm featuring omelets, homemade waffles, farmers’ market soups and salads, locally-caught seafood, sushi and raw bar, children’s buffet and decadent desserts. If Thanksgiving dinner is more your pace, then perhaps you’d be more interested in a 4-course maple-roasted turkey dinner being offered from 4-8 pm instead.Smoke House, Burbank
An institution in Burbank, and the namesake of George Clooney’s production company, Smoke House will be open for a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Bring the whole family for meals starting less than $20.00 per person.

Where to Go and Who to Help

Laugh Factory’s Free Thanksgiving Feast
That’s right: free.  Every year the Laugh Factory opens its doors to be served a Thanksgiving meal by comedic legends and then have a performance after the meal.  From Dane Cook to Tim Allen to Arsenio Hall–the comedy stars give back to those less fortunate–or don’t have anywhere else they’d want to be.  First come, first serve for the four performances/meals and lines for early.Burbank Community YMCA Turkey Trot
Wake up early and get moving for a good cause before even considering to step into a kitchen or restaurant with a 5K/10K run/walk.  Kiddos canenter the kiddie 1K run.  Fast adults can receive medals & cash prizes.   The event draws around 2,500 participants who choose to run, jog, walk, or push strollers. The Y is also hosting a costume contest so you might catch a few Turkeys actually trotting along.  Proceeds go to the organization’s membership assistance program, which offers free and affordable access to the YMCA’s services for those in need.Westside Thanksgiving, Santa Monica
This event truly gives back for Thanksgiving.  Serving meals from 11AM-2PM, volunteers serve up meals for free to not only homeless, but also seniors, singles, students, and other low income families.  A children’s carnival with arts and crafts will be available for those with children, as well as immunizations, hair cuts, and medical consultations for those in need.  For people wanting to help give, please consider donating, food, money, or time.

There are many, many more…

Opportunities to give back or help out this year.  Missions downtown and homeless shelters throughout the Southland can always use an extra set of hands and donations.

Many happy wishes for you and yours this holiday week!


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