American tradition dictates there are two very important rules you should be aware of to achieve a successful Thanksgiving holiday: 1) Be sure to declare your great and mighty thanks for all, and 2) Indulge in enormous quantities of decadent, rich, scrumptious fare on Thanksgiving Thursday. The first rule is occasionally obeyed (usually because stomach growls interrupt most thank you thoughts). The second—well let’s just say if there’s a group of Thanksgiving dieters in the nation, we haven’t met them yet.

So with all that said, let us move on to a third, slightly more modern rule that’s catching on with Thanksgiving tradition: The Turkey Trot. You see, before we mumble the thanks and proceed with the annual face-stuffing, there’s a whole colony of folks who start their celebration with a Thanksgiving morning 5K and 10K Turkey Trot run. It’s just a great way to burn a few calories (it lessens the guilt when you have that second piece of pumpkin pie that evening) and also supports your community by helping to raise money for charities like local food banks. Because while Thanksgiving is about giving thanks, it’s also about giving back!

Take a look at our pick for California’s best Turkey Trots—and also check out the complete list of runs across the state. Bonus fun: if you’ve always wanted to run in a pilgrim costume—now’s your chance!


1. Turkey Trot Los Angeles
Thursday, November 28
City Hall, Downtown LA

The LA Turkey Trot is now happening in Downtown Los Angeles and rumor has it, this is going to be a lot of fun. Come down early to prepare for the 5K, 10K and Widdle Wobble kids’ run that will take racers through a historic route downtown. Every participant will receive a free Turkey Trot LA trucker hat and “Turkey Finisher Bling.” That’s so wonderfully LA, isn’t it? *No dogs allowed.

Registration: 7 AM
5K Start Time: 8 AM
10K Start Time: 8:30 AM
Widdle Wobble Start Time: 10 AM
Charity Beneficiary: L.A. Regional Food Bank
Click Here for Entry Fees

2. Turkey Trail Trot XI
Thursday, November 28
Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

In a city as vibrant as San Francisco, this is one Turkey Trot you don’t want to miss. The 11th annual Turkey Trail Trot starts at Polo Field at Golden Gate Park and crosses over some beautiful Northern Cal natural terrain. The 1,400 racing slots fill up quickly but it’s still worth making an appearance just for the people watching and costume laughs. Racers are also eligible for an array of awards and raffle prizes. *No dogs allowed.

5 Mile Turkey Trot (run) Start Time: 8:30 AM
3 Mile Pilgrim Promenade (walk) Start Time: 8:30 AM
100 Meters Kid’s Gobbler Chase Start Time: 8 AM
Race Beneficiary: Lowell High School Track & Field Team
Click Here for Entry Fees

3. Silicon Valley Turkey Trot
Thursday, November 28
Santa Clara Street at Market, Downtown San Jose

Start your Thanksgiving off right at the 9th annual Applied Materials Silicon Valley Turkey Trot! The 5K, 10K and kid’s fun run go through beautiful downtown San Jose and  28,000 racers participate every year. There are also extra special races (the CEO/Celebrity 5K and more), several contests, a Kids Fun Zone and an awards ceremony. *No dogs allowed.

Packet Pick Up: 6:30 AM
Costume Contest: 7 AM
5K Run/Walk: 8:30 AM
10K Run: 7:50 AM
10K Wheelchair: 7:45 AM
Kids Fun Run: 10:50 AM
Charity Beneficiaries: Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo, the Housing Trust Silicon Valley, Healthier Kids Foundation Santa Clara and Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Cruz.
Click Here for Entry Fees

4. 36th Annual Dana Point Turkey Trot
Dana Point Harbor, Dana Point

The Dana Point Turkey Trot is without a doubt one of the most scenic Turkey Trot races you’re going to find anywhere. The course runs through gorgeous Dana Point Harbor and Doheny State Beach, so remember to tap some pix while you’re passing through. In addition to the 5K, 10K and kids’ (ages 5–12) one-mile race, there will also be a not-to-be-missed costume contest! As their turkey trot slogan says: “Run the Race Before You Stuff Your Face” and have a great time doing it.  *No dogs allowed.

Registration: 6 AM
10K Start Time: 7 AM
5K Masters (age 40 and up) Start Time: 8:30 AM
5K Open Start Time: 9:30 AM
Kids’ Gobble Wobble Start Time: 10:15 AM
Costume Contest: 9:10 AM
Charity Beneficiaries: Boys & Girls Club of Capistrano Valley, Dana Point 5th Marine Regiment Support Group, Family Assistance Ministries, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 9934
Click Here for Entry Fees

5. The 7th Annual 2013 Folsom Turkey Trot
North Parkway Drive at Blue Ravine, Folsom

Folsom hosts central California’s hottest Turkey Trot, which takes 4,000 racers on a beautiful route through the Parkway community’s scenic bike trails. The courses are closed to traffic and bicycles so families of all ages can participate without worry. There will also be awards for each age group’s top competitors, as well as prizes for best costumes. *Well behaved (and leashed) dogs are allowed to join the 5K race.

10K Start Time: 8:50 AM
5K Start Time: 9:10 AM
Charity Beneficiaries: Twin Lakes Food Bank and the Youth Assistance Fund
Click Here for Entry Fees

Are you taking part in the Turkey Trot tradition? Let us know where your favorite race is taking place!