Skip the giblets, can the yams — celebrate Thanksgiving outside the house

Not everyone is looking forward to a traditional Thanksgiving with all the trimmings.

Maybe you’re doing Thanksgiving on your own this year, or you’re bored with the family tradition of overeating and watching football. Maybe you’re not a fan of turkey or you think Thanksgiving is politically problematic. Maybe you want to make a difference in the world, or maybe you just can’t sit still that long.

Whatever your reason, here are some ideas for ways to make Thanksgiving truly memorable. Get out of the house and try something different this year and you might truly thankful.

Click the picture for a gallery of alternative Thanksgiving Day activities.

Indigenous People’s Sunrise Gathering

The story of Thanksgiving usually centers on the Pilgrims. For a look at history from the perspective of American Indians, consider getting up early Thursday for the Indigenous People’s Sunrise Gathering, organized by the International Indian Treaty Council. Featuring prayers, songs, dancing and speeches, the event celebrates the history of survival and resistance among indigenous people since the arrival of Europeans. It takes its inspiration from a 19-month occupation of Alcatraz by American Indian activists that ended in 1971. “It’s a community statement against the common mythology of Thanksgiving, and a reminder that Indian people actually exist and that history does not totally belong to the Europeans to write,” said Mark Anquoe, communications coordinator for the Treaty Council.

Where: Alcatraz Island, departing from Pier 33

When: Thanksgiving Day. Boats run to the island from 4:45 to 6 a.m.; last boat leaves island at 8:45 a.m.

Tickets: $14 per person, children under 5 free. Available online, from the ticket booth at Pier 33 or by calling (415) 981-7625

For more info: Alcatraz Cruises,; International Treaty Council,

Free vegetarian Thanksgiving meal

Turkey-centric Thanksgiving celebrations can be hard on vegetarians and vegans. Relatives can get defensive or critical, and there may be little you can eat. For those looking for a little fellowship, Cafe Gratitude offers a free vegetarian Thanksgiving meal and the San Francisco vegetarian society has several events planned on Thanksgiving Day. For those dining with meat eaters, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals advises calling your host several weeks in advance to discuss any dietary issues, bringing a veggie dish to share and keeping conversations about vegetarianism warm and civil, said spokeswoman Lindsay Rajt. Thanksgiving can actually be a very good time to switch to a vegetarian diet, Rajt said. “I actually went vegetarian and years later went vegan on Thanksgiving both times,” she said.

Where: Cafe Gratitude, 2400 Harrison St.

Noon to 3 p.m., Thanksgiving Day

For more info: Cafe Gratitude,; PETA,; San Francisco Vegetarian Society,

Turkey Beach Trot IV

Instead of consuming a meal that leaves you more stuffed than the turkey, consider running off some extra calories — or at least cheering for others while they run. While registration is closed for the colorful annual Thanksgiving Day Turkey Beach Trot, you can still volunteer to help out or cheer for the costume-clad runners at the finish line. This year’s race benefits the Lowell High track and field team. Or consider participating in another charity run: Run Wild for a Child is Sunday and the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot is Thanksgiving Day.

Where: Polo Fields, Golden Gate Park

When: Thanksgiving Day; kids run at 8 a.m., Turkey Trot starts at 8:30 a.m.

For more info: Turkey Beach Trot,; Run Wild for a Child,; Silicon Valley Turkey Trot,

San Francisco Zoo

Instead of eating dinner with a bunch of turkeys, why not hang out with some monkeys, elephants or zebras instead? The zoo is open every day, and Thanksgiving weekend visitors will find holiday celebrations under way. The annual Reindeer Romp, offering a chance to see real reindeer, began Saturday. And new this year, the zoo is offering a “green” ice skating rink, made with a synthetic material that doesn’t require a generator or cooling system to make ice. Visitors also can get a $1 discount on admission by contributing a can toward a food drive for the San Francisco Food Bank.

Where: Sloat Boulevard at Great Highway

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily

Tickets: $15 adults, $12 seniors, $9 kids 4-14, free for 3 and under

For more info:

International Auto Show

If cars make your motor run, consider driving over to the International Auto Show at Moscone Center on Thanksgiving Day. Visitors will get a preview of 2012 model cars, SUVs, trucks and vans, and see alternative-fuel and hybrid vehicles and exotic sports cars. Special features include the Driver’s Choice Challenge, the Academy of Art University Classic Car Collection, Aftermarket Alley featuring tricked-out vehicles, Hot Rods from Dominator Street Rods and a display from the Ferrari Club of America.

Moscone Convention Center, North and South Halls

When: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. through Saturday; closes 8 p.m. Sunday

Tickets: $9 adults, free for children 12 and under; available only at the door

For more info:

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