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Thanksgiving Turkey Trot Events in Southern California

southern california turkey trot

Thanksgiving is a time to spend giving back, whether that comes in the form of spending time with your family or participating in one of the many charity races across Southern California. Affectionately called “turkey trots” by many people, these races are held on Thanksgiving Day and are a great way to work up an appetite before the big meal. 

We’ve rounded up some of the many turkey trots around Southern California so that you can pick a race for a cause close to your heart and home. So, without further ado, let’s look at some Thanksgiving charity runs in Southern California.


History of the Turkey Trot

With roots as far back as 1896, this turkey trot has earned the title of one of the longest-running annual footraces in the United States. A YMCA in Buffalo, New York, is said to have hosted the first turkey trot for only eight runners, six of whom crossed the finish line. Thanks to this small event over 125 years ago, the modern turkey trot was born. Now, turkey trots are hosted all across the nation. 

Each turkey trot gives back to a different cause, with the overarching goal of being thankful for what we’ve been given while giving back to those who are less fortunate or have fallen on hard times. So, if you’re looking for a turkey trot in Southern Califonia, you’ve come to the right place; there are plenty of footraces to choose from. But first, look at some turkey trots across Orange County, Las Angeles, San Diego, and Temecula. 


Turkey Trot LA

Organized by Midnight Mission, the Turkey Trot LA helps provide meals for homeless people in the LA area. They aim to provide food for those who need it while offering services to help provide a path out of homelessness. The race also includes a minor event for children up to 12 years old called the Widdle Wobble, allowing the whole family to get in on the fun. 

If you’re looking for an event to raise money for a great cause, check out this Los Angeles-based turkey trot. Packet pickup starts at 6:30 AM, so arrive early and be prepared to see parts of LA you’ve never seen without traffic, including the Disney Concert Hall. 

Irvine/Orange County Turkey Trot

The Irvine/Orange County Turkey Trot combines several events into one fun-filled day. Not only are there several turkey trots to participate in, but this event also has a Gobble Wobble for kids, letting the whole family participate. Plus, if you cannot make it to Orange County for the race or are traveling for Thanksgiving, they have a virtual run option allowing you to participate in the run from the comfort of your home. 

Whether you’re interested in the standard turkey trot, the 1-mile dash, or the 5k and 1-mile dash combo, there are plenty of fun races to participate in while raising money for charity. There are incredible medals and tee shirts available for participants, and there’s delicious pumpkin pie at the finish line. Remember there is a $5 fee for parking at the event and that the first race starts at 7:30 AM, so be sure to sign up (and show up) early! 


Father Joe’s Villages Thanksgiving Day 5K

Set in San Diego, CA, Father Joe’s Villages Thanksgiving Day 5K claims the title of the longest-running turkey trot. With an estimated 10,000 runners, this is one big race. This event gives back to the community by providing meals for the homeless, and the event doesn’t end when you cross the finish line. With a beer garden, live music, a costume contest, and more, this turkey trot goes until 11 AM, giving you plenty of time to make it back home for the big feast in the afternoon.

Race check-in starts at 6:30 AM at Balboa Park, so be sure to show up early and bring your running shoes. This race also kicks off with an optional morning Catholic Mass held by the organizers, making an excellent, introspective start to a chance to give back to the community and those on hard times. 


Thanksgiving Day Thank You Run 5K and Kids 1K

This turkey trot gives back to, a foundation supporting patients with ALS in San Diego. The Thanksgiving Day Thank You Run includes a 5K race and a smaller 1K race for kids to participate in. 

This race was named after Hellen Mok, who used to go deals shopping to get supplies for people and was known to give away things out of her closet to those in need. uses the funds from the race to help get ramps, wheelchairs, and other mobility aids for patients with ALS. So if you’re looking for a worthy cause to donate your time toward this Thanksgiving, be sure to attend this race. 


Abby Reinke Turkey Trot in Temecula, CA

After three years off due to the pandemic, the Abby Reinke Turkey Trot is back on for 2022. Not only does this turkey trot come with a complimentary pancake breakfast, but you also get to watch the local principal get covered in slime! In addition, this turkey trot helps fund the school, and nothing says school spirit like getting to dump a bucket of slime over your principal’s head. 

Check-in is at 7:00 AM, and the race starts at 8:00 AM, making this the perfect event for those who balk at waking up at 6:30 AM. To find out more about the event, check out their website. 


Check out our tours if you’re looking for more things to do in Southern California after Thanksgiving. Here at Best Coast Tours, we offer a variety of tours all around Southern California. From exploring downtown LA to a calming wine tasting through Temecula valley. Our tours come with custom pickup locations, allowing you to start your Southern California journey from anywhere near Orange County or LA. Check out the tours link above to find out more or make a reservation.