By Kelly Baughman

Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy family and friends while kicking off the holiday season.  From fantastic meals, to Black Friday shopping, to 5K’s and more, the Gulf Coast has some amazing things to offer this Thanksgiving weekend that is sure to please every member of the family.

For those who don’t know their way around a kitchen, the holidays can be stressful.  Take it easy this Thanksgiving and treat your family to some of the best holiday fare in town at some of the best joints from all over the Emerald Coast.

The Hangout is known for its amazing events, and Thanksgiving is no exception!  Join them as they host a Thanksgiving Day spread that would make any turkey want to jump on a plate.  For just $29.99 for adults and $14 for children, you’ll get a buffet with all the traditional holiday trimmings like Hickory Roasted Chicken, Roast Beef, Scalloped Potatoes, Pumpkin Pie and more.  The event last from 11 am to 4 pm, and there will be football and parades on the numerous TV screens.  

While you’re there, don’t forget to participate in the Letters Overseas event where you can write a letter to soldiers abroad who couldn’t be home for the holidays.  Your support helps make their holidays bright with a little piece of home.

If getting together in a casual setting with friends and family within your community is more your style, then head on over to the Flora-Bama, located at 17401 Perdido Key Drive for their annual Potluck Thanksgiving Feast.  Bring a covered dish and get all the turkey and ham your belly can stand. The Flora-Bama helps take the stress out of your holiday cooking. Throw those pans out and get to the line for this wonderful feast.  The event begins at 1 pm, will feature music on all three stages, and is free, as long as you provide a dish or dessert!

Other area restaurants that will be open for business on Thanksgiving Day include Wolf Bay Lodge, Luna’s Eat and Drink, Sunset Cork Room, Hogfish Grille, GT’s on the Bay, Voyagers at Perdido Beach Resort, Fisher’s at Orange Beach Marina, Bubba’s Seafood House, Cobalt, Ginny Lane Bar and Grill at the Wharf, and The Flying Harpoon.  You may want to call in advance as some of these will require reservations.

Maybe going out to eat isn’t your thing or you want to impress your Mother-in-law with a delicious meal but cooking isn’t your forte.  Not to worry!  Chef David Pan with Orange Beach Concierge is putting together an unforgettable Thanksgiving To-Go Feast that is sure to bring even the pickiest of eaters to the table this turkey day.  You’ll get roasted turkey, traditional herb dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberry relish, pie, cake, and so much more.  All food will be prepared in aluminum pans, so they are ready to heat and eat.  Pick up dates are Tuesday the 20th and Wednesday the 21st, and quantities are limited so get your name on the list now!

For more information or to order your Thanksgiving To-Go Feast, call 251-228-6729.

Once you’ve had your fill of delicious holiday staples, get ready to shop til you drop as Tanger Outlets in Foley will be opening their doors for the biggest shopping day of the year.  “Moonlight Madness” will kick off the Black Friday deals at 6 pm Thanksgiving night, and Tanger stores will stay open all night through Friday, November 23rd.  Be sure to log on to www.tangeroutlet.com for a list of participating stores and door busting Black Friday deals.

Want to get a jump on working off the holiday weight gain?  Check out one of the area’s weekend fun runs like the Annual Turkey Trot.  Join the Seville Quarter Milers this Thanksgiving Day, November 22nd at 8 am for a family oriented 5K race/walk through the beautiful autumn streets of downtown Pensacola.

The Manna Food Bank will be on hand to take donations of non-perishable items to provide to those less fortunate in our community throughout the holiday season and beyond.  Those who bring 3 items to donate will receive a free race t-shirt.

Registration is $35 in advance and $40 on race day.  For more information or to sign up now, visit www.werunwild.com.

Already stuffed your face and enjoyed the leftovers?  If you’re ready to run off all that turkey, then lace up for the 11th Annual Kaiser Coastal Half Marathon on Saturday, November 24th from 8 am to 2 pm at the Orange Beach Sportsplex, located at 4385 William Silvers Pkwy Orange Beach, AL 36561.

You can burn off a slice of pie with a one mile fun run, shed those mashed potatoes with a 5K, or get yourself ready for the whole holiday season with a half marathon.  No matter your skill level, there’s a distance for everyone to get in on the fun!  The fun run is just $15, the 5K is $35, and the Half Marathon is $60 per person, and includes a post-race party complete with festive food and drinks.  For more information or to sign up now, visit www.team-magic.com or call 615-460-9927.

With so many activities on the Gulf Coast this holiday season, there is sure to be something for everyone.  Whatever you decide to do this Thanksgiving, do it with love and thanks in your heart.  The holiday season is about giving, so remember to do something kind for others in our community.  Happy Turkey Day, Gulf Coast!