8 great ways to spend your downtime on Thanksgiving Day around Chattanooga

Staff Photo by Robin Rudd / The Magic Forest, seen in 2018, is a highlight of Rock City's Enchanted Garden of Lights. The attraction updates the illuminated sights each year. First tours Thanksgiving Day start at 4:30 p.m.
Staff Photo by Robin Rudd / The Magic Forest, seen in 2018, is a highlight of Rock City's Enchanted Garden of Lights. The attraction updates the illuminated sights each year. First tours Thanksgiving Day start at 4:30 p.m.

Think all there is to do on Thanksgiving Day is eat and watch football? You might be surprised by how many activities are available on the actual holiday around the Scenic City. Here are eight to keep in mind.

1. Rise and shine for charity. If you're up early, you can take part in one of the three walks for charity around Chattanooga.

— The Crown Automotive Grateful Gobbler 5K Walk starts at 8 a.m. at Coolidge Park, 150 River St. Cost is $15-$30 to participate. There's also a $20 "sleepwalker" option, a win-win if you'd rather stay in bed or you'll be tending the turkey. Organizers say online reservations will remain open until the event is over. Proceeds go to the Maclellan Shelter for Families.

— The Sportsbarn Turkey Trot, sanctioned by the Chattanooga Track Club, will take place at Fitness Central, 6170 Lee Highway. The three events have different step-off times: 8:30 a.m. for the Kiddie K, which costs $8 for day-of registration, 8:45 a.m. for the 3-mile family walk/jog ($36) and 9 a.m. for the 8K ($46). Proceeds benefit the Kidney Foundation of the Greater Chattanooga Area. facebook.com/sbturkeytrot

(READ MORE: Chattanooga's Sportsbarn selling East Brainerd site to group also planning downtown center)

— The Stuffing Strut is a 5K walk/run that starts at 8:30 a.m. at Chester Frost Park, 2277 N. Gold Point Circle. Day-of registration is $35. Proceeds benefit four North Hamilton County charities: Northside Neighborhood House, Soddy-Daisy Food Bank, Dallas Bay Volunteer Fire Department and Soddy Daisy Middle School's Jim Wilson Fund. facebook.com/stuffingstrut

2. Do another good deed in the afternoon. A campaign called Hip-Hop Feeds the Streets is scheduled from noon to 6 p.m. at the Chattanooga Community Kitchen, 727 E. 11th St. Community groups organized by talent promoter Sv tha God will be accepting donations of clothing, blankets and food.

3. Go bowling. Spare Time locations at 5518 Brainerd Road and 5530 Hixson Pike open at 3 p.m., as does Splitz Alley, 6421 Perimeter Drive.

4. Throw an ax. If you're eating like a lumberjack on Thanksgiving, might as well entertain yourself like one, too. Reservations start at 4 p.m. at Craft Axe Throwing, 619 Camp Jordan Parkway.

5. See a movie. The multiplex has four new films debuting this week: "Napoleon," director Ridley Scott's historical epic about Napoleon Bonaparte, starring Joaquin Phoenix; "Saltburn," described as a cross between a psychological thriller and a black comedy about a struggling college student who becomes infatuated with a wealthy classmate; "Wish," the latest from the Walt Disney Animation Studio; and "Maestro," Bradley Cooper's biopic about Leonard Bernstein. Show times start as early as the 10 o'clock hour Thanksgiving morning at area AMC Theatres and at 11 a.m. at Regal Hamilton Place.

6. Gaze at Christmas decorations. If you want more than your neighbors' illuminated decor, it's hard to outshine the wattage at Rock City Gardens, which has more than a million lights beaming. The attraction at 1400 Patten Road opens at 4:30 p.m. Buy your tickets online before you go.

(READ MORE: Holiday magic is a year-round job at Rock City on Lookout Mountain)

Ruby Falls, 1720 Scenic Highway, is also open Thanksgiving Day, with tours starting from 8 a.m. through 5 p.m. You'll need to buy tickets online in advance. rubyfalls.com

7. Take a road trip. Last year, Southern Living described Eddie's Florist in Henagar, Alabama, as "the South's greatest Christmas shop." And this wonderland of Christmas decor is open 1-4 p.m. CST Thanksgiving Day.

We'll vouch for the spectacle that is Eddie's. This year, more than 200 trees are artfully decorated with thousands of ornaments, and visitors are welcome to browse the merch.

Speaking by phone, manager Steve Ramsey said it's hard to get an exact count because "we cram them in every nook and cranny ... but I came up with 241." That includes a couple dozen tabletop trees within the sprawling warehouse, but the rest are full-size and fully decorated. "Last year, we had 218, and I know we've got more than that (this year)," he said.

(READ MORE: Where else can you see a tree with a dipstick?)

8. Stay home and watch a Christmas movie. If not all of the TVs are tuned to football, two movies on the Hallmark Channel have connections to the area. "A Christmas Cookie Catastrophe," airing at 2 p.m., stars Rachel Boston, who was raised on Signal Mountain. "Christmas Island," airing at 6 p.m., includes a song, "Hurry Up Christmas," by "American Idol's" Season 20 runner-up, HunterGirl, who was born in Gruetli-Laager and raised in Winchester, Tennessee.

Contact Lisa Denton at ldenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6281.

  photo  Staff photo / A simulated grotto featuring Nativity scenes is one part of the extensive Christmas display at Eddie's Florist in Henagar, Ala. The business will be open 1-4 p.m. CST Thanksgiving Day.

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