Do That / It's Culture

How to Celebrate Thanksgiving in Downtown Houston


Every single year. Halloween ends and then BOOM. All the Christmas stuff comes out. But, can we take a second to appreciate Thanksgiving??

This year would be a great chance for you to give Turkey Day its moment because our friends at Visit Houston are pulling out all the stops for Thanksgiving weekend 2019. (Heads up — Visit Houston sponsored this post, but all opinions are my own!)

So, without further adieu, here’s how you can make the most of your time in downtown Houston — whether you are visiting family in Houston or you’re the one playing host with guests in town.

Plan a staycation with tons of hotel deals

hotel alessandra houston staycation

OK, so kinnnnnda the sweetest part of this Thanksgiving promotion is all the amazing hotel packages and deals. Nightly rates start at $85!!! And there are several packages that include special perks like late checkout or prime location on the parade route. Here are some of our faves:

  • Aloft is right on the route and has rates starting at $100 a night.
  • Hotel Alessandra (pictured) is one of the newest and swankiest hotels. Get a stellar nightly rate starting at $165 and score free Maserati car service too.
  • The Whitehall has a $99 nightly rate that weekend and has been recently renovated.
  • For all 15 hotel deals, click here!

The next question you probably have is where to eat! Several spots around downtown will have your fill of turkey and cranberry sauce — more deets to come! Here are the spots that you can trust to be open on the holiday:

Quattro (downtown)
Brasserie du Parc (downtown)
Main Kitchen (downtown)
Bloom and Bee (Galleria area)
Morton’s (downtown)
M&S Seafood (Galleria area)
Del Frisco’s (multiple locations)
Kiran’s (Galleria area)
Brennan’s of Houston (Midtown)
The Classic (Washington Corridor)
1600 Bar & Grille (downtown)

Watch the floats at the parade

The completely free annual H-E-B Thanksgiving Day Parade is taking over Downtown on Thanksgiving morning from 9 to 11 am. Catch some of the 13 floats and 12 high-flying balloons — complete with famous Tom Turkey and Santa Claus, as well as the eight marching bands from across the state. The show starts at Smith and Lamar. It’s the 70th anniversary of the parade, so definitely not one to miss!

Some pro tips for you viewing experience:

  • BYO-chairs.
  • Check the weather to dress accordingly.
  • Plan your parking strategy — there should be some garages with $10 options. Google Maps will have what streets are closed.
  • Bring blankets — could be good for keeping warm or marking your territory.
  • Snacks? Can never go wrong with some light bites and sips.

Channel your inner figure skater

The Ice Discovery Green

There’s something pretty special about ice skating OUTSIDE (!!) and with the backdrop of downtown! The rink opens in Discovery Green on Nov. 15 and is open daily (even on Thanksgiving) through all the holidays. Don’t miss this special opportunity and add it to the agenda for your Thanksgiving staycation.

Catch a little culture in the Theater District

A CHRISTMAS CAROL – A GHOST STORY OF CHRISTMAS: November 15 – December 29. O try to catch this one at The Alley Theatre every year — it always gets me in the holiday spirit! More details.
AVENIDA HOUSTON PRISMATICA ART EXHIBIT: November 22, 2019 – January 3, 2020. The Avenida is transformed into giant kaleidoscope with this unique art instillation. Giant prisms reflect surrounding downtown Houston by day and project the full spectrum of light each night. Its free go — go at night! More details.
FULLY COMMITTED – A ONE MAN COMEDY: November 26 – December 29. Written by playwright Becky Mode, Fully Committed is a comedy tour de force in which 40 characters come to life in the hands of one man. Sam works the reservation line at one of New York’s hottest restaurants, where the best food inspires the worst behavior. While juggling desperate callers who stop at nothing to land a prime reservation or the right table, can Sam still make it home for the holidays? More details.
HOUSTON BALLET’S THE NUTCRACKER: November 29 – December 29. It’s just not the holidays without Houston Ballet’s stunning annual performance of The Nutcracker. Travel to the Land of the Sweets with the Sugar Plum Fairy and her prince at Wortham Theater Center. More details.

Get a head start on Christmas

THING-A-MA-JINGLE ON MAIN STREET: Friday, November 29. Get into the holiday spirit and jingle all the way to Main Street Friday Night for a more adult holiday celebration. Thing A Ma Jingle on Main Street features cocktails, karaoke, live music, and the Black Friday Art Market. More details.
RELIANT LIGHTS MAYOR’S HOLIDAY SPECTACULAR: Saturday, November 30. Join the mayor from 5 to 8 pm to ring in 100 years of Reliant Lights Mayor’s Holiday Spectacular! Presented by Reliant Energy, the free to attend tradition continues this year with music, fireworks, Santa, and fun for the whole family in Hermann Square at City Hall. A toy drive will be held benefitting the Salvation Army Greater Houston Area Command, with donors receiving a light-up Santa hat from Reliant. Enjoy a performance by Chloe and Halle Bailey and while the towering tree illuminates our city streets. More details.
ZOO LIGHTS: Starting November 17, 2019. Every year during the holidays, the Houston Zoo transforms into a magical wonderland of lights. More than 15 miles of LED lights light up the zoo’s beautiful trees and pathways. The zoo is closed on Thanksgiving Day but it will open during the evening for visitors to enjoy its display of lights while sipping on hot chocolate and taking in the sights and sounds of the season. More details.

Other things to do around town

32ND ANNUAL UPTOWN HOLIDAY LIGHTING (Uptown): Thursday, November 28. The 32nd Annual Uptown Holiday Lighting event will return on Thanksgiving evening 2019, kicking off the holiday season and celebrating Post Oak Boulevard’s newly completed transformation. More details.
BakerRipley HOUSTON TURKEY TROT (Uptown): Thursday, November 28. The BakerRipley Houston Turkey Trot is an annual event that supports the mission of BakerRipley, a nonprofit that has served this region for 112 years. Register now to participate in this fun, exciting race that helps build community, create opportunities, and crush inequities. Get $5 OFF with our code “ITSNOTHOU” More details.
MAGICAL WINTER LIGHTS (Southeast): November 15, 2019 – January 5, 2020. Embracing Houston’s diversity, Magical Winter Lights at Gulf Greyhound Park is a spectacular, larger-than-life festival that presents a fresh multicultural take on traditional holiday light shows. Including lighting themes such as Mystery of the East, Dinosaur Land, and Landmarks of the World, your family will not soon forget this atypical holiday celebration. Just a short drive away in La Marque, TX, Magical Winter Lights will be open during the entire Thanksgiving weekend, including Thanksgiving Day. More details.
45TH ANNUAL TEXAS RENAISSANCE FESTIVAL (Northwest): October 5 – December 1. It’s your last chance to catch the annual RenFest on Nov. 29-Dec. 1. The fairgrounds will be transformed into a momentous winter wonderland, taking on the theme of ‘Celtic Christmas’. Expect Christmas trees, holiday music, and shops decorated in the lights and symbols of the season. More details.

Find even more to do this Thanksgiving weekend with Visit Houston’s Calendar of Events.

One thought on “How to Celebrate Thanksgiving in Downtown Houston

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