Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

Alternate Black Friday Activities

Ahhh, Thanksgiving. It can be such a bittersweet time of year. Namely because it signals a number of things, including the start of the holidays and the end of the year, which are both exciting and, let’s face it, a little bit scary. The day before the holiday itself has long been dubbed the busiest travel day of the year. So before you ever get to cut into a slice of dark meat, you have to brave crowded airports and hour-long traffic delays – yikes!

Then, once the pie has been served, gears begin their not-so-subtle shift into Christmastime. Black Friday shoppers line up one after another, waiting for doors to open like kids on Christmas morning. Meanwhile, I personally do my best to avoid any semblance of shopping despite the overwhelming draw to every sale sign.

Here’s how you can skip the shopping this holiday:

Luckily, some companies are supporting my protest this year by offering alternate Black Friday activities and making it easier to travel somewhere slightly more fun than the local shopping mall. REI, for example, is encouraging its customers, like always, to Opt Outside. The retailer is giving their employees a paid day off and closing all brick and mortar locations so that everyone remotely related to REI can spend an extended Thanksgiving holiday with their families outdoors.

I, for one, love this idea. It brings back the connectedness to the holiday – plus, I could certainly stand a little outdoor activity following the self-induced food coma from Thursday. As if this initiative wasn’t exciting enough all on its own, several state park services have since joined in, offering free admission and waiving camp fees on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

State Parks throughout California, Minnesota, Missouri and Oregon have all opted in. Or out, depending on your perspective. Even if your home state hasn’t followed suit, don’t be discouraged! Day-use park fees are often only a handful of dollars, and the prices pale in comparison to the value of spending quality time with your favorite folks.

Whatever way you choose to spend it, we hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday!

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