10 Thanksgiving Outdoor Activities Your Family Will Love

By: Grace Park

Grace Park is Mountain Travel Sobek's Marketing Coordinator. Her recent travels have taken her to Korea, Israel and Cambodia, where she helped teach Cambodian high school students as part of an international mission. Grace enjoys drinking boba & coffee, eating good food, hosting people at her home, playing board games, and trying out new cafes!

Other Posts by this Author

November 22, 2022 | Adventure Experts

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of year to share with the whole family.

If you are looking for ways to enjoy the outdoors with your loved ones or help them to enjoy hiking—we’ve got you covered. Check out these MT Sobek staff tips and tricks that will make your Thanksgiving hike the best yet!


1. Be flexible

2. Explore new trails

3. Plan a fun scavenger hunt

4. Do local “touristy” things

5. Practice the Golden Rule of hiking with kids

6. Take a hike-nic!

7. Plan an early Thanksgiving lunch

8. Look for fairies

9. Incentivize kids with adventure bucks

10. Go on a ‘mystery’ hike

10 Thanksgiving Outdoor Activities Your Family Will Love

Use these ideas to inspire creativity in gathering your family for your holiday hiking adventures!

#1. Be flexible | Jen C., Custom Trip Operations Specialist from MT Sobek

Jen a MT Sobek staff with her two dogs traveling

“In the late-fall to early-winter, weather in Reno can be as temperamental as a teenager. So, year after year, what this has taught me is that there is no typical Thanksgiving Day in the Sierra! Permanently plan to pack your flexibility and be grateful that your options in the Truckee Meadows can range from skiing or snowshoeing to hiking with the dogs to possibly even paddle boarding on Tahoe’s glassy waters in the morning before you feast with friends and family in the afternoon. Oh, and don’t forget to always dress in layers!”

#2. Explore new trails | Nicole R., Custom Africa Expert from MT Sobek

Nicole MT Sobek staff with her two kids on a Thanksgiving adventure

“We always get outside on the day after Thanksgiving as shopping is not our thing. We always try to choose ‘Active’ trails where our boys (ages 9 & 5) can burn off extra energy. Family favorites are trails that allow for extra exploration, which usually means with things to climb on—big boulders, trees (upright or fallen) and stumps. The boys clamber over everything and build confidence in themselves under our watchful eyes. Our last big hike had them doing 5 solid miles in Yosemite National Park happily—we even saw a bear on one trail!”

#3. Plan a fun scavenger hunt | Mindy T., Director of Custom Travel from MT Sobek

kid in green shorts looking down at the camera in a hiking trip

“We have a 7-year-old who loves the outdoors and wants to be engaged with his surroundings. To keep a hike moving we plan a scavenger hunt along the trail. In the fall we outfit him with a sticky side-up tape bracelet to let him collect leaves in different colors as we go! At home, we can use the leaves to make a picture and talk about what we saw.”

#4. Do local “touristy” things | Lou L., Custom Trip Consultant from MT Sobek

two males standing and posing in front of the Golden Gate Bridge active adventure with blue skies

“When you don’t have kids or family to keep happy, Thanksgiving is a great time to take a hike or do that local ‘touristy’ thing you’ve always wanted to do. Last year, we easily got last-minute tickets on a boat cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge and loved every minute.”

#5. Practice the Golden Rule of hiking with kids | Amber L., Trip Consultant from MT Sobek

hiking on a family adventure with a staff from MT Sobek

“I’ve done a tremendous amount of hiking with my kids over the past 20 years including a 15-hour, 19,000-foot summit when my youngest was only 8. My Golden Rule when hiking as a family? Stop along the trail every hour no matter what! Sit down, sip, nibble, relax for a few minutes, catch your breath then adjust boots, layers, and possibly attitudes…

I find kids, and adults for that matter, much less overwhelmed by the enormity of the task at hand- “How much longer..?” when they know that they’ll be stopping soon and able to address any needs. It just takes the stress out of the equation.

Bonus tip: Make sure to pack favorite snacks, fill water bottles with something yummy, and have energy-bump candies in your pocket if anyone’s about to hit the wall.”

#6. Take a hike-nic! | Anne W., Director of Trip Development & Operations from MT Sobek

hiking with mountain views with gear

“Turn those Thanksgiving leftovers into a picnic, and hit the trail an hour before lunch time. Lunch is wherever the best view is. Pro-tip: Take your shoes off and stay a while!”

#7. Plan an early Thanksgiving lunch | Massimo P., President & CEO from MT Sobek

Traditional Thanksgiving day celebration party. Flat-lay of Friends or family eating different snacks and roast turkey or chicken at Festive Christmas table, top view

“We like to have Thanksgiving lunch early so that we can get out and hike before it gets dark out. We live very close to Tilden Regional Park in Berkeley so are fortunate to have a great place to hike in. We geocache with our 10-year old, Talia, to keep the moaning to a minimum.”

#8. Look for fairies! | Amber L., Trip Consultant from MT Sobek

Amber and kids on a scavenger hunt

“I always try to make strenuous hikes exciting for my kids. Rather than feeling like a chore where they “have to hike-Ugh!” mine can’t wait to go on another “Adventure”.

One of our favorites? “Fairy-hunting”, pictured here in the Redwoods.  To the untrained eye this might have looked a lot like a tough, 6+ hour hike, but my girls knew they were on a secret fairy mission, the butterfly nets and leaf stickers their disguise!

Bonus tip: I encourage them to wear happy clothes instead of serious, grownup hiking gear. This keeps it feeling more like play than work. They often trek in colorful dresses or skirts with their hiking boots!”

#9. Incentivize kids with adventure bucks | Erin R., Adventure Coordinator from MT Sobek

family adventure in Europe to visit the Alps

“Who doesn’t want to get paid for a hike?

We invented something called ‘Adventure bucks’ for our kids to incentivize them to hike with us.

How it works is that they can earn and redeem those ‘bucks’ after the hike. They earn 1 ‘buck’ for each mile, 1 for not complaining the entire time, and 1 for telling us a few highlights afterward. For 5 ‘bucks’, they get to choose where we eat lunch or dinner.

It can apply to any length of the hike. When there’s a reward on site, it’s more fun for everyone!

During a family trip to Italy in 2019, this worked like a charm for us! We were ALL able to enjoy wonderful hikes in the Dolomites (with our 7 and 9-year-olds) and then amazing food afterward. The kids felt empowered that THEY had chosen our restaurants. And they got a bonus ‘adventure buck’ for saying ‘ciao’ and also for trying new food!”

#10. Go on a ‘mystery hike’ | Heather H., Director of Marketing from MT Sobek

group of hikers walking down the stairs and enjoying view of Zion National Park

“We enjoy hiking as a family but have to pace it for 10-year-old legs and sometimes get a few moans. We’ve found success with mystery hiking as a way to get everyone excited for adventure, especially after Thanksgiving. It’s easy, one person researches a hike (no more than an hour’s drive from home in any direction) and either drives or navigates. Everyone arrives somewhere at a place that they’ve never been before and the hike is usually tailored for maximum enjoyment, often with an ice cream stop at the end. It also works with other activities, such as a simple mystery day trip.”

In Conclusion: Have fun!

We gather at this time of year to celebrate our special bonds—and what better way to do that than by hiking together in the great outdoors? With a little creativity you can make your hike a lot of fun and ensure that holiday hikes are just as enjoyable for your family and friends.

Discover Mountain Travel Sobek’s hikes and treks for 2023. Learn more by checking out popular hiking trips that our customers love!

Ask an Expert

We want you to have the best adventure, so don’t hesitate to call our expert team of adventure specialists at 800-974-0300 to learn more. Or click the button to use our online contact form.