9 Ways to Spend Black Friday Besides Shopping

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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on Living on the Cheap.

If the thought of venturing into a store on Black Friday leaves you shuddering, take heart.

There are a host of things you can do on Black Friday that don’t involve fighting crowds or shelling out a lot of dough.

Here’s a sampling of things to do and places to go besides the mall, and many are free.

1. Experience a national treasure

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All national parks and historic sites are typically open on Black Friday. While administrative offices may be closed, visitors centers, museums and sites are normally open. Tours will be available as usual.

2. Explore a local park

Older couple outside in autumn
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You could also visit a park you haven’t yet visited in your own town or a nearby town. Parks in most states and municipalities are open 365 days a year. Go for a walk, jog or bike ride to burn off those Turkey Day calories.

3. Commune with the animals

Bronx Zoo
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Many zoos are open year-round, holidays included. This time of year, you will also find zoos with holiday light displays, which really bring the place to life as it starts to get dark. Double-check with your zoo, as sometimes there is an extra fee for the night lights show.

4. Have an artful day

Overland Park, Kansas
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Many art museums are open on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Get there early as afternoons tend to be more crowded. (You might need to reserve an entry time in advance.) Or check out art districts. Black Friday sales aren’t limited to shopping malls. Art galleries want your business, too, though there’s no charge just to look. Here are nine ways to visit museums on the cheap.

5. Scoop up deals on Thanksgiving decor

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While everyone else is nabbing doorbuster deals, head to your nearby grocery store and/or drug store. All those Thanksgiving-themed items from plates and cups to napkins and knick-knacks will be reduced in price by 50% or more, as retailers clear the shelves for even more Christmas paraphernalia. You’ll find a ton of items decorated with autumn leaves or in warm fall colors, ideal for parties down the road.

6. Pull out a cookbook

Woman reading a cookbook in her kitchen
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Or check the internet and try a new recipe — preferably nothing having to do with turkey or sweet potatoes. Or if your fridge is still full from Thursday, try these delicious ways to use Thanksgiving leftovers.

7. Take in a movie

Woman showing her movie theater ticket
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While movie theaters are normally open on Black Friday, you can also rent or stream a film at home. Make it more fun by popping some buttery popcorn and passing out Halloween candy leftovers to enjoy during the movie.

8. Start making homemade gifts

A woman knits yarn that was a comfort buy during the coronavirus crisis
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Do you knit or crochet? Enjoy a quiet day while creating some thoughtful gifts for loved ones. Make packages of cards, homemade vanilla extract or special Christmas ornaments. Get the kids in on the action for some family fun.

9. Clean out your closets

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Instead of adding more possessions, gather up things you don’t use to sell or give away. Pack them into bags or boxes and donate them to a nonprofit such as Goodwill or Salvation Army. Not only will your home be tidy, but you can get a receipt for a tax deduction. Read our tips for getting started with a minimalist wardrobe if you need some inspiration.

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