Black Friday sales this year are poised to set off a spending frenzy. Consumers plan to spend an average of $743, which is $238 more than last year's average, according to survey data from RetailMeNot.
Though Black Friday deals are designed to attract shoppers, there are a plethora of other activities around the nation for those who'd like to get away for the weekend or indulge in fewer crowds and more serenity.
National parks across the U.S. are also encouraging visitors to "opt outside" with activities such as nature hikes and instructional sessions on fishing. Rangers and guides will lead hikes in parks such as Big Thicket National Park, northeast of Houston, and Paramount Ranch, in California's Santa Monica Mountains. A post-Thanksgiving Field Day at Fort Pulaski outside of Savannah, Georgia, includes races and educational Civil War programming.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo waived the cost of admission at New York State parks for the day after Thanksgiving in an effort to draw people outdoors. In New York City, shoppers can bypass the crowds entirely at Black Friday Meditation at Wave Hill Public Gardens. Those who attend this free event may feel completely alienated from the hype of the day because there is no element of manic shopping at this event, which focuses on mindfulness, meditation and stress relief.
A Learning Moment
In Springfield, Illinois, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum dedicates the day to face painting, balloon art and a hot cocoa bar at its event "Fun Frosty Friday." The institution plans to host blacksmith demonstrations outside if weather permits.
Boston offers a more interactive activity for Black Friday at its annual Friday After Thanksgiving (F.A.T.) Chain Reaction Event, which encourages people to form teams and construct a linked contraption that will eventually be knocked down in a cascading domino effect. Those who are interested can attend as either participants or spectators.
For those who feel the spirit of giving, there are coat exchanges set up around the nation in homage to Buy Nothing Day, a worldwide anti-consumerism trend that originally started in Vancouver, Canada. States including Utah, Kentucky and Rhode Island have set up coat exchanges in response to Buy Nothing Day.
Black Friday also marks the start of many holiday festivities, so dodge the shopping crowd and use this an opportunity to bond over holiday traditions.
Holiday enthusiasts can frolic through the winter wonderland ICE! 2017 at the Gaylord National Resort in Washington, D.C. The indoor attraction is made up of 2 million pounds of hand-sculpted ice.
Families can delve into art making, story time and festivities during the "Day After Thanksgiving" event at Atlanta's High Museum of Art.
For those in the San Francisco area, Union Square will host an annual tree lighting. Ice skating is also available in the park, so lace those skates and take a few laps around the rink.