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10 Best Thanksgiving Activities and Events in Iowa

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Iowa is a wonderful place to celebrate Turkey Day. With the smell of homemade pie in the air and autumnal landscapes surrounding you, it doesn’t get much better. From turkey trots, to parades, to food banks, here’s how to enjoy the 2023's 10 Best Thanksgiving Activities and Events in Iowa. 


Joe’s Place, Iowa City, IA

For the perfect place to let loose the night before Thanksgiving, Joe's Place in Iowa City provides plenty of space, a great bar selection, and an unofficial meeting spot for University of Iowa students, alums, and community members. If you have tenure in Iowa City, you'll run into someone you know at Joe's Place, and chances are you'll meet someone new, too.

Coffee Cup Cafe, Sully, IA

While baking your pie can go a long way for the Thanksgiving holiday, a pie from the Coffee Cup Cafe will surely add some extra sweetness to the spread. Featuring all the holiday staples, including apple, pumpkin, and cherry, it's highly recommended to check out other new favorites on the Coffee Cup Cafe's long menu, including toasted coconut, lemon meringue, and pecan pies.

New Pioneer Food Co-op, Multiple locations

Featuring locally-raised, free-range frozen and fresh turkeys, the New Pioneer Food Co-op has you covered when it comes to a high-quality bird. The spread selection doesn’t stop when it comes to turkeys at the New Pi Co-op, and with plenty of fresh holiday sides, ingredients, and suggestions for what to cook, New Pi can help deliver a first-class meal and leftovers.

Festival of Trees Holiday Parade, Davenport, IA

On the Saturday before Thanksgiving, the Quad Cities Festival of Trees Holiday Parade is the equivalent of the Macy's Day Parade of Iowa. The Festival of Trees Holiday Parade celebrates the coming holiday seasons by featuring larger-than-life helium balloons soaring above the crowd. Downtown Davenport hosts the Festival of Trees, which includes merry decorations, live music, and silent auctions after the parade.

Jordan Creek Town Center, West Des Moines, IA

If Black Friday is circled on your calendar the day after Thanksgiving, then the place you’ll want to head to in the wee hours of the morning is the Jordan Creek Town Center in West Des Moines. Featuring more stores than you can visit in a day, Jordan Creek contains small shops unique to the area and mega brands like Best Buy, Scheels and Younkers.

Turkey Trot 5k Run/Walk, Cedar Rapids, IA

November 23, 2023 at 8:15am

Join in on November 23 at 8:15 am at 3rd St. SE & 10th Ave. SE for a Turkey Trot 5k Run/Walk! Bring your friends and family to support people with IDD and have some pre-Thanksgiving fun. Don't forget to bring your kids along for the Kids Dash!

Meskwaki Cultural Center and Museum, Tama, IA

For more perspective on the Thanksgiving Holiday, visiting the Meskwaki Cultural Center and Museum in Tama is worth your attention. Featuring artifacts, photographs, and plenty of stories to share, visitors to the Meskwaki Cultural Center learn about the history of the Meskwaki Nation and their current cultural presence. Admission is free to this captivating display of culture, and you can keep everything you learn well past the holidays.

Des Moines Turkey Trot, Des Moines, IA

Get your turkey trot at the Des Moines Turkey Trot this Thanksgiving. Touted as one of the best trots in the nation, the Des Moines Turkey Trot hits all the scenic parts of the city and comes packed with a lot of holiday cheer. Racers can opt for a casual 5K, a slightly more competitive five-mile route, or a tot trot for the young turkeys. Whichever trot you choose, and even if you just spectate the event, it's a festival full of good cheer and friendly faces.

Food Bank of Iowa, Des Moines, IA

In the spirit of giving gratitude for what we're thankful for, there are a lot of great organizations to get involved with during the holiday season. The Food Bank of Iowa is among many organizations that can use volunteers of all sizes. Whichever organization you'd like to help out this holiday season, the first step will be getting in touch with them and asking how they could use your help.

Ox Yoke Inn, Amana, IA

If not for the main holiday meal, at least once during the season, be sure to leave the cooking up to the professionals at the Ox Yoke Inn in Amana. Featuring family-style entree selections, including savory turkey, mashed potatoes, and chilled salads, there's little to no room left on the table at the Ox Yoke Inn for anyone's hunger to remain.

This text was created by the author with the assistance of GPT-3, a large-scale language generation model developed by OpenAI. The author reviewed, edited, and revised the draft language to their satisfaction and is fully responsible for the content of this publication.

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