Last updated: 12:33 PM ET, Wed November 25 2015

The Best Places to #OptOutside This Thanksgiving

Features & Advice | Janeen Christoff | November 25, 2015

The Best Places to #OptOutside This Thanksgiving

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

When consumer cooperative and outdoor retailer REI launched its #OptOutside campaign and announced plans to shutter its doors on Black Friday to encourage employees and customers to get out and explore on the Friday after Thanksgiving, the news was welcomed by many of the country’s parks and recreation areas. So much so that there are a ton of parks around the country waiving fees to encourage visitors to go out and explore.

Colorado has launched Fresh Air Friday with free admission to its state parks. Tennessee state parks have jumped on the #OptOutside bandwagon and have launched scheduled hikes and a photo contest. Some 49 California state parks are offering free Black Friday Passes and many more states, such as Oregon, Minnesota and Delaware are also offering free admission to their parks. State parks are always free in Missouri, but they will offer a free night of camping on Friday.

From organized strolls in the park to day-long jaunts, this Thanksgiving is looking like one of the first where it's not about what you buy but where you go outside. Looking for a gobble wobble or a turkey trot near you? Here are some options for hikes around the country.

Heading out in Oregon where parks are free is made easier with this list of beautiful waterfall hikes from the Salem Statesman Journal, which rounded up several hikes including the Five Falls Route.

Tennessee has announced its After Thanksgiving Photo Contest for those who are out and about in Tennessee State Parks, which are hosting a roster of scheduled hikes for the day after turkey day. They have posted a list of the hikes which take place throughout the day and on the state parks’ website.

The state of Georgia is also encouraging its residents to get outside over the Thanksgiving break, posting a list of suggested hikes on its blog.

The National Audubon Society has perhaps the most adventurous list of hikes that they have put together for Thanksgiving and post-Thanksgiving walks – the shortest of which comes in at a mere 8.8 miles. So for those who are physically fit and maybe want to walk off some of those extra Thanksgiving carbs, these might be the walks for you.

San Francisco’s Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy has put together a list of family-friendly hikes for Thanksgiving weekend that are short and fun for kids of all ages. These might not be rigorous enough for adults to waltz off the extra Thanksgiving baggage, but the kids can definitely get some energy out on the trail.

NYC Parks are known for their After Thanksgiving Hike. This year’s will take place on Saturday at the Staten Island Greenbelt Conservancy.

Texas Parks and Wildlife is encouraging people to work off Thanksgiving with a guided ranger walk to McKinney Falls on a one-hour, one-mile hike.

Jack London State Historic Park in Glen Ellen, Calif., is hosting the Turkey Waddle after Thanksgiving guided hike among the ancient redwoods on a four-mile stroll ideal for family and friends.

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