By: Yolanda Rivas

2 min read November 2019— There are a few debates around Florida being home to the first Thanksgiving dinner. Some believe it was hosted in St. Augustine in September 1565, when Spanish and Timucuan tribesmen shared a meal that is considered the first community act of religion and thanksgiving. Others believe that the first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1564 near Jacksonville, when Frenchmen established a colony and were welcomed by Timucuans. Truth or not, what is sure is that Orlandoans celebrate Thanksgiving in many diverse and fun ways. These are our Top 5 picks of fun activities to do in Orlando this Thanksgiving weekend. 


 Turkey trots

There are a few turkey trots in Orlando this week. What a fun, family-friendly and different way to enjoy Thanksgiving activities! This is also a nice way to give back to the community and support fellow citizens. Seniors First Turkey Trot 5k at Lake Eola and Avalon Park Foundation 5k Turkey Trot are some of the most anticipated turkey trots in the area. Seniors First’s trot has become one of the oldest and largest 5k fun runs in Orlando, attracting over 5,000 runners. It benefits Seniors First Programs like Meals on Wheels, In-Home Care and others. The proceeds from the Avalon Park trot will benefit neighborhoods, community organizations and the underserved in surrounding neighborhoods. 

Harry P. Leu Gardens

If you are looking for a more calm experience, Leu Gardens will be open on Thanksgiving Day. It will feature The Nature of the Game exhibit, which is a fun interactive exhibit of life-size games with a twist, as described on their website. The location is comprised by a 50-acre botanical garden, including a butterfly garden, a tropical rainforest, and what is considered Florida’s largest formal rose garden. The garden and the historic Leu House Museum were donated to the City of Orlando in 1961 by Harry P. Leu and his wife, Mary Jane. 

Theme park celebrations

As Thanksgiving marks the start of the Christmas season in Orlando, theme parks have numerous events to enjoy the magic of the holidays. From live entertainment to unique international cuisine options to shows featuring animation characters, theme parks kick off the start of the Christmas season in a big way. You wouldn’t want to miss the spectacular decorations and Christmas lights that attract thousands of visitors every year. 

Light up UCF

Running through Sunday, Jan. 5, Light Up UCF offers activities for all ages. This year’s festival features an ice rink, a world-class choreographed light show, free holiday movies, live entertainment, rides like the Ferris wheel, Light Up Express kids train, and a carousel. The festival takes place at Addition Financial Arena in a family-oriented atmosphere. 

Thanksgiving dining

As the No. 1 Thanksgiving traveling destination in the country, you have plenty of options to taste a wide variety of local and international plates. Whether you’re staying in the International Drive tourism district, near the theme parks or looking for a destination experience, there are great restaurants with Thanksgiving dining options to pick from. Universal CityWalk, Disney Springs, ICON Park and nearby towns Winter Park and Mount Dora are spots with a number of restaurants in one place. 

To learn more, visit:

Seniors First Turkey Trot 5k: 

Avalon Park Foundation 5k Turkey Trot: 

Harry P. Leu Gardens: 

Light Up UCF: