Thanksgiving break is a great opportunity to slow down, sleep in a bit later, and plan activities with your family that you might not find time for during the school week hustle and bustle.
Whether you’re ready to explore new places in the Lakeland area or take your holiday guests to your favorite spots, we’ve got a list of ideas to save you time searching and help you plan family fun, plus a kid-friendly volunteer opportunity with VISTE. Our list of things to do with kids in Lakeland + Polk County is also a great resource year-round when you’re looking for local activities.
Many attraction closures and event postponements have been announced beginning September 27 due to Hurricane Ian. We are editing our calendar and articles if we receive notice of event changes, but please be sure to check directly with organizers to confirm any events or activities through October 9. A link is provided at the bottom of every event on our calendar and in all articles.
Thanksgiving Break for Polk County Schools is 1 week long – November 20 – 19, 2021. (See the 2021 – 2022 Polk Schools calendar). If you go to a private school or charter school, check your school calendar for holiday dates. We know McKeel is also off Friday, November 19.
If you’re heading somewhere on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday of Thanksgiving week, please be sure to call first – we aren’t able to verify the hours for each place on our list but have provided links so you can easily call before you go.
Click on the name of any event below to see times, locations, and additional details.
Thanksgiving Break Events
Find a local event to celebrate the holidays, or maybe visit a Farmers Market to pick up fresh bread and local produce for your Thanksgiving meal. Highlights this week include:
🍂 Join the Salvation Army and Lakeside Village for the Red Kettle Kickoff and Tree Lighting on Friday, November 19
🍂 Get into the holiday spirit at Bartow’s Magic on Main on Friday, November 19
🍂 See the decorated Christmas trees at the RP Funding Center on Friday, November 19 for the Tree Decorating Contest Kick Off. Story time, Santa photos, kids crafts and more.
🍂 Volunteer with VISTE on Wednesday, November 24 and help deliver over 1800 Thanksgiving meals to the seniors in our community (registration required this year)
🍂 Run for the Pies (5K) on Saturday, November 27
Click here to see our full Calendar of Events in Lakeland + Polk County.
Thanksgiving Break Camps
🍂 If you’re looking for activities to keep your kids busy during Thanksgiving Break, or you need childcare while you’re working, we’ve got a list of Thanksgiving Break Camps and Workshops in Lakeland including Explorations V, Camp Fire, AGT Athletics Camps, What’s Cooking Lakeland, Snapology, and more.
Plan Ahead for Thanksgiving
🍂 Order your Thanksgiving dinner in advance and enjoy more time with your family.
🍂 Watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and have a Happy Thanksgiving on Thursday, November 25
🍂 Skip cooking and take the kids out for dinner somewhere that Kids Eat Free!
🍂 We hear from a lot of readers looking for opportunities to volunteer as a family, especially at the holidays and year round. Many of our local non-profits require advance registration to volunteer, but you can always pick an activity from our Random Acts of Kindness list, or buy toys for a local Toy Drive near you. You can also register to ring the bell for Salvation Army – this is a great volunteer opportunity the entire family can do together.
Play Together as a Family
🍂 Take a walk as a family around Lake Mirror
🍂 Go on a hike
🍂 Go on a bike ride
🍂 Find a new local playground to explore
🍂 Spend a day at Bok Tower Gardens and check out the Hammock Hollow Children’s Garden and play area
🍂 Plan a Family Game Night – we’ve got a list of our top 10 favorite board games
🍂 Find an outdoor activity
🍂 Dig for sharks teeth and fossils at the Mulberry Phosphate Museum. Make sure you bring a small shovel or other item to dig through the rock pile, and something to sit on – you won’t want to kneel.
🍂 Have a family mini golf competition at Family Fun Center
Kick off the Christmas Season
🎄 Pick out your live Christmas tree – most lots open during Thanksgiving week
🎄 Start your holiday shopping at Lakeside Village on Saturday, November 27 and make reservations for Photos with Santa
🎄 Support our local businesses during Shop Small Saturday on November 27
🎄 Head out for a drive to see Lakeland’s Best Christmas Lights, some are turned on starting on Thanksgiving (Some locations still TBD for 2021)
🎄 Buy your tickets for The Nutcracker and other Christmas Concerts and Live Performances during December
🎄 Find out when your favorite Christmas Movies and TV Specials will be on TV and set that DVR
🎄 Get ALL of your favorite Christmas Events on your calendar with our handy Christmas Event List
🎄 Start planning for CHRISTMAS! Use our huge Christmas Guide to get info on:
- Holiday Day Trips in Central Florida
- Santa Photos and Breakfast with Santa
- Lakeland Christmas Parade Tips
- Christmas Parades in Polk County
- Christmas Concerts + Nutcracker Ballet Performances
- Local Holiday Movies
- Christmas Toy Drives
- Holiday Markets and Christmas Craft Fairs
- Experience Gift Ideas (that don’t take up space!)
- Ice Skating
- Free Christmas Events
Get your 25 Days of Christmas Fun Printable Calendar!
Check out our November + Thanksgiving Guide for things to do in November, restaurants open on Thanksgiving, places to order Thanksgiving turkey, sides, and pies, places to Donate and Volunteer this holiday season.
Get a head start on the holidays with our Christmas + Holiday Guide featuring Lakeland’s best Christmas light displays, Santa Photos, local Christmas Events, places to find a Christmas tree, Christmas Parades, and so much more!