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Top 5 Sober Things to Do in NJ on Thanksgiving Weekend

If you are looking for fun ways to stay sober and have a good time this Thanksgiving weekend, you do not need to look far. Across the state, there are a number of different options to keep you busy and entertained throughout the long weekend, helping you to stay sober and get ready for the holiday season ahead. Here are just a few options.

  1. Check out some holiday lights.

The 23rd Holiday Express Concert and Tree Lighting takes place in Red Bank, New Jersey, on November 25th at 7 p.m. You can take a ride on the Santa Express Train from Little Silver to Red Bank, or just enjoy the parade that will travel from Red Bank Train Station to the Holiday Express concert on Broad Street via Monmouth Street.

In Bedminster, New Jersey, you can take part in the 14th Annual Colonial Christmas at Jacobus Vanderveer House. They will be open to the public from November 25th through November 27th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the tree lighting taking place at 6 p.m. on November 25th. The entire place will be decorated for the holidays with reenactors roaming the estate and period music performed by The Enslows. Santa Clause is slated to make an appearance, and there will be an opportunity to do some shopping as well.

The Cranbury Christmas Lights display in Cranbury, New Jersey, offers a three-hour Christmas light show that is free to the public, including free parking. Held on November 26th and 27th from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m., the lights are choreographed with the music for many of the shows and set up so you can see the whole thing while seated in your parked car.

  1. Go shopping.

You can stay local, scouring the Black Friday ads for good deals near you the day after Thanksgiving and throughout the rest of the weekend, or you can head out on a road trip and take advantage of the big sales happening at the many outlet malls scattered across New Jersey. From the Tanger Outlets: The Walk in Atlantic City to Liberty Village Premium Outlets in Flemington to Jackson Premium Outlets in Jackson and the Jersey Shore Premium Outlets in Tinton Falls, you can get started early and take advantage of some of the sales that start anywhere from midnight to 8 a.m. on Black Friday.

  1. Explore history.

There are a number of historical locations in New Jersey, and Thanksgiving weekend usually offers some fabulous fall weather to explore them. For example, you could head over to historic Mullica Hill in Gloucester County, a village originally settled by Irish and English Quakers in the late 17th century. With lots of great restaurants, boutique shopping, fine art, and historic sites, it is a great local vacation destination any time of year. On November 26th, you can also catch a little holiday spirit by taking part in the Mullica Hill Lights on Main, a holiday festival that kicks off with the lighting of a 60-foot Christmas tree at 6 p.m.

  1. Head outside.

A nippy New Jersey winter is right around the corner, and Thanksgiving weekend gives you a chance to get outside and take advantage of the last of the fall weather. Hike along any of the 60 miles of trails at Wawayanda State Park and enjoy the views along the scenic hikes, or explore Hacklebarney State Park in Long Valley with its rushing river and endangered plant species.

If you’re interested in fishing, you can head over to Fisherman’s Cove Conservation Area in Manasquan (dogs allowed) or Allamuchy Mountain State Park in Byram where you can enjoy the changing fall leaves as you wait to catch a bite. Bikers can trek down the unpaved 50-mile Batona Trail at Wharton State Forest or hit the rugged, six-mile Cannonball Trail in Ramapo Mountain State Forest on the other side of the state.

  1. Throw a Thanksgiving bash.

If you would rather stay traditional and focus on the food, why not throw your own sober Thanksgiving celebration? It is a great way to spend time with friends and family while also guaranteeing that you will not be surrounded by alcohol or drunk relatives. You can go all out and design a unique menu focusing on your favorite foods for your guests, or offer to make the turkey and invite your guests to bring the side dishes and desserts.

Don’t forget to:

  • Remind people that it is a sober event. The people you invite from your recovery circles may understand that your Thanksgiving dinner will not include alcohol and that guests are expected to be sober upon arrival, but if you invite family members, coworkers, or people who are not actively working to stay sober, make it clear that they shouldn’t bring a bottle of wine as a host gift or expect to be served alcohol at your dinner.
  • Plan in advance. Even if you are just inviting a few people, you can cut down on your stress if you think through what is necessary to make your Thanksgiving dinner happen and plan out what you will do and when.
  • Don’t forget the details. Plates, silverware, napkins, serving platters, and serving spoons – you can go big or simple, but there are some basics you will need to feed a houseful of people.
  • Ask for help. If you feel like your sober Thanksgiving dinner is starting to become overwhelming, don’t let it become a trigger for relapse. Ask for help from your friends and keep it fun.

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About The Contributor
The editorial staff of Sunrise House is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands... Read More