Shopping and fighting other shoppers for the must-have item isn’t the only thing to do over Thanksgiving weekend. While the kids may appreciate that gift once they receive it, what they really want during this long weekend is something to do! Since Thanksgiving is generally the kick-off to the holiday season (and even the first day of Hanukkah this year), several places have activities that welcome the season.

Independence Seaport Museum
211 S. Columbus Blvd.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 413-8655

Whether through school or cartoon specials, the younger ones probably learned about the horrible boat conditions the Pilgrims faced in the week leading up to Thanksgiving. Let the kids get a more enjoyable and hands-on education about life at sea at the museum, warship and submarine at Penn’s Landing. The Independence Seaport tells the history of Philadelphia’s seaport through displays and interactive exhibits. Saturday is Seafarin’ Saturday, and as part of the event this weekend, families can help decorate the Holiday Boat.

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Disney’s Beauty And The Beast
Academy of Music
240 S. Broad St.
Philadelphia, PA 19102
(215) 893-1999

Date: Nov. 26 – Dec. 1, 2013

The “tale as old as time” returns to Philadelphia for Thanksgiving week. Kids young and old will be amazed at the characters from the animated movie coming to life on stage. It may be hard for parents to keep from signing along to the well-known music, including “Be Our Guest,” “Gaston” and the title song, too. Tickets for both matinee and evening performances are available.

Adventure Aquarium
1 Riverside Drive
Camden, NJ 08103
(856) 365-3300

On the Camden Waterfront, Adventure Aquarium is open every day, including Thanksgiving Day, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It has a lot of great features for kids, including its KidZone, a playground that lets kids feel like they are under the sea. Families can see, and in some cases touch, a wide range of animals from hippos to penguins to stingrays. It is the only aquarium in the country with Great Hammerhead Sharks. An extra bonus is a walk along the waterfront with photogenic views of Philadelphia.

Related: Top Spots To Make Holiday Gift Donations In Philadelphia

Linvilla Orchards
137 W. Knowlton Road
Media, PA 19063
(610) 876-7116

For those who can’t pull a majestic tree out of the ground by its roots like Clark Griswold, there is Linvilla Orchards. Families can take a hayride to the tree field to pick and cut down the perfect holiday tree. The farm provides the saw and even hauls, packages and ties the tree to the car for the family. Back at the Christmas Shop and Garden Center there is hot cider and crafts for the kids.

Johnson’s Corner Farm
133 Church Road
Medford, NJ 08055
(609) 654-8643

Who says families need to go to a crowded mall to visit Santa? The big guy and his reindeer arrive at the farm Friday night for families to visit him and take their own photos. During the day, families can enjoy a horse-drawn hayride, then, when night falls, tour the farm on a Christmas “Light Show” Hayride. The farm has other festive activities available, like gingerbread making and marshmallow roasting.

Samantha Sinclair is a freelance writer who lives in South Jersey. She has two boys who love “adventuring.” Her work can be found at