For many of us, Thanksgiving means a choice between travel or host. To me, it’s sometimes like choosing between death or torture. If your choice is neither, like me, you might want to consider a San Diego Zoo Thanksgiving.
We hit the zoo last year when my youngest was very small and I didn’t really want to go anywhere, but hosting my more than 20-person family in a home the size of a mouse enclosure seemed pretty doubtful. It was one of the nicest Thanksgivings I’ve had in a while.
We started out with a beverage of choice in hand for every adult, and made our way from the entrance down through the monkey enclosures and aviaries that make up the lush heart of the zoo. It was appropriately crisp out so many had warm drinks and coats with scarves. I remember a favorite moment watching members of three different families of mine—my husband’s, my brother’s and my own; old, middle and young—all stop at the same tropical bird hidden behind a dense botanic specimen. The light through the aviary glass was cool and soft as they turned they faces up to it. Heaven.
Contrast this with the pre-dinner moments of rush and disorder I’ve had in the past; it was such a balm. And the meal itself was incredible. We chose the Treetops buffet, as the zoo offers two choices for Thanksgiving dinners (see below). The food was delicious and constantly refreshed. Everyone in the room was in a jolly mood and it felt like having a holiday with a bunch of sweet strangers you get to enjoy an odd comment with at the buffet, but never really have to speak to—sort of the Facebook of Thanksgivings. The walk back past my beloved gorillas after a glass or two of holiday cheer also did not disappoint.
Adult buffet prices range from $37.95-$42.95, so the dinners aren’t for everyone. Plus we’re already members and didn’t have to pay admission as nonmembers would. But I realized that even if we’d just packed roasted turkey and cranberry sandwiches and put them in our backpacks for the benches outside the zoo, then walked in, the day would still have been lovely.
Perhaps a Wild Turkey Day isn’t something you can talk your crew into. But if you want to give it a try, here’s some more info from the zoo website on what the San Diego Zoo has to offer for Thanksgiving:
Treetops Thanksgiving Buffet
Thursday, Nov. 24
Continuous seating 11:30 a.m.–4 p.m.
Experience the sophistication of our Treetops Banquet Room as you make selections from our traditional Thanksgiving menu, including Diestel free-range turkey, certified Angus slow-roasted prime rib, or baked penne with roasted vegetables.
$42.95 for adults, $15.95 for children ages 3 to 11, plus tax and gratuity. Nonmembers add zoo admission. For reservations, please call 619-557-3964 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily. Reservations must be secured with a Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or American Express.
Albert’s Restaurant Thanksgiving Dinner
Thursday, Nov. 24
Seating begins at 11 a.m.
Enjoy our Thanksgiving three-course prix fixe meal with entree choices of carved Diestel free-range turkey platter, certified Angus slow-roasted prime rib, Jamacian jerk salmon, and vegetarian linguini primavera.
$37.95 for adults, $13.95 for children ages 3 to 11, plus tax and gratuity. Nonmembers add zoo admission. For reservations please call 619-557-3964 and ask for Albert’s Thanksgiving Dinner Reservations, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily. Reservations must be secured with a Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or American Express.
For more information you can also call the San Diego Zoo at 619.685.3200