Hotels, Parade, Dinner, Lights, Shows and Attractions
Thanksgiving in New York City is a magical time. Millions of people around the world tune in on their televisions to watch the famous Macy’s New York Thanksgiving Parade. If you are lucky enough to be in NYC, here are some tips on things to do Thanksgiving weekend, best ways to watch the Thanksgiving Parade, which attractions and museums are open and where to have Thanksgiving Dinner. Please note the recent changes to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade route.
Best Thanksgiving Parade Hotels
There are plenty of hotels along the 2021 Thanksgiving Parade Route. Some Thanksgiving in New York City hotels have great views of the Parade (and some don’t!), making it easy to stay warm and dry, use a rest room, eat and STILL watch the Parade from a prime spot. Many of them also offer Thanksgiving in New York City Hotel Packages. Some of our top picks include:
- Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel – ‘Went out of their [way] to help me set up surprise overnight hotel viewing room for Thanksgiving day Parade’
- the Quin – Thanksgving reviews, ‘Great Hotel for The Thanksgiving Day Parade!!!’
- New York Hilton Midtown – ‘Great location to see the Macy’s parade.’ and ‘All we had to do was go downstairs and watch the parade pass by.’
The Parade changed routes in both 2009 and 2012, so please be aware when researching older information and read the FULL NYC Insider Guide to Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade Hotels and Vacation Packages.
Special Thanksgiving Parade Viewing Parties
Thanksgiving Parade Brunches & Thanksgiving Dinner
Top of Thanksgiving in New York City
Thanksgiving in New York City Open Attractions
Many New York City Tourist Attractions are open 365 days per year, although some with limited hours. Thanksgiving Day may be a great day to try and see some of the more popular attractions, as they will be much more crowded the days before and after Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving in New York City – Open Attractions:
- Empire State Building
- Top of the Rock and most of Rockefeller Center
- Statue of Liberty (Will have to miss Thanksgiving Parade)
- Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
- Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tours
- Times Square – Hershey’s Store, M&M Store, Hard Rock Cafe and many more.
- 9-11 Memorial (7:30am – 9pm) and 9-11 Memorial Museum (9am – 9pm)
- Central Park – Zoo, Carousel, Wollman Ice Skating Rink
- One World Observatory
- Summit One Vanderbilt
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Thanksgiving in New York City is a great time to visit the Empire State Building, Top of the Rock, Statue of Liberty, 9-11 Memorial and Museum, One World Observatory, take a New York City Bus Tour and much more! The New York City Pass Discounts are a GREAT way to save if you know you’ll be seeing a lot of attractions in a short time!
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Thanksgiving Dinner in New York City
With hundreds of delicious choices for Thanksgiving Dinner in New York City, it may be hard for you to choose just one place. Many NYC restaurants will offer a special pre-fixe holiday menu and you can pick from the most innovative menus to spectacular boat cruises with amazing skyline views around Manhattan.
The best spots BOOK EARLY, so make sure to check the complete NYC Insider Guide to Thanksgiving Dinner in New York City.
Nutcracker Ballet Thanksgiving Weekend Schedule
Nov 26, 2021 – Jan 2, 2022
Fri @ 8pm
Sat @ 2pm & 8pm
Sun @ 1pm & 5pm
Thanksgiving Shows in New York City
Broadway and other NYC shows are hit or miss on Thanksgiving Day. In prior years, some Broadway Shows have performed, the Rockettes always have multiple shows and other shows are open around the city. Grab yourself (and the kids) and get tickets to one of the few shows open on Thanksgiving! Enjoy!
Thanksgiving in New York City – Open Shows
Thanksgiving in New York City – Closed Shows
See Broadway.com for more holiday schedules
95th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
Parade – Thursday, November 25, 2021, 9am-12pm
Balloon Set Up – Wed, November 24, 3-10pm
Floats, Clowns, Balloons, Celebrities, Santa Claus and so much more. This is what Thanksgiving in New York City is all about!! Arrive no later than 7am to stake the best viewing spots.
Route and Where to Stand:
The 2021 Thanksgiving Parade route (will likely start) starts on Central Park West and 77th Street, marches South on Central Park West (CPW) to Columbus Circle, turns east on Central Park South and South on 6th Avenue to Macy’s at 34th Street at Herald Square. The new route offers over 2 miles of spectator viewing options.
Here’s what my friend, Eric, told me about his viewing spot, “Last year we watched from the west side of 6th Ave, near Radio City Music Hall (at 51st St.) and it was great, sunny, you could see the balloons from a distance, and there were plenty of places to get coffee/bathrooms behind us between 6th and 7th Avenues."
Though the areas along Central Park are best for early birds (first to see the Parade), in previous years, it was not advisable to watch the parade on CPW or Columbus Circle, but rather further down on 6th Avenue. There are high winds and lots of shade along CPW, so floats and entertainers have been known to “rush” through this area. The upside to the rush is that you will see the whole parade in 1.5 hours, while further down the route, it will be about 3 hours.
For those who want to see the parade later in the day (9:30-12am), pick a sunny spot down on 6th Avenue between Central Park and Macy’s on 34th Street. Sixth Avenue between 59th and 38th offer great parade views. Sixth Avenue between 34th and 38th Street will be closed to spectators.
More information at Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.
Balloon Set Up – This can actually be as much fun as the Parade itself and many of us have stood outside with Hot Chocolate (or, um, something stronger) and watched the Parade balloons being blown up. The set up takes place on either side of the American Museum of Natural History, on 77th and 81st Sts between CPW and Columbus from 3-10 pm on Wed, November 27.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Route Map (2019)
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Public Viewing Areas:
- Central Park West: West side from 70th Street to Columbus Circle
- Central Park West: Early risers camp out starting at 6AM on the west side of Central Park West from West 75th to West 59th Streets. Great views can be found along this stretch!
- Columbus Circle: West side (Note: Columbus Circle is the Southwest corner of Central Park where CPW and CPS meet). No public viewing on Columbus.
- 6th Avenue: between 58th & 34th Streets. Great views from West 59th to West 38th Streets!
- 6th Ave: between 34th and 38th Streets will be closed to spectators
- 34th Street: south side of street between Broadway & 7th Avenue
- Avoid watching on 6th Avenue between West 34th and West 38th Streets & on West 34th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues. The national television broadcast limits viewing here.
To ensure a good viewing location, get there early. Spectators arrive as early as 6:00am. More Info: Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
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New York City Helicopter Tours
The cold weather is a great time to take to the Manhattan skies for an exciting New York City Helicopter Tour! On top of our always-gorgeous skyline, you’re bound to see amazing holiday lights up close this time of year! Enjoy spectacular aerial views of the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, 9-11 Memorial, World Trade Center and Ellis Island downtown.
I LOVED my tour…check out some of my photos and review at New York City Helicopter Tour.
NYC Insider Print Map and Guide to Manhattan
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Thanksgiving in New York City – Ice Skating
For tourists and locals alike, ice skating at Central Park, Rockefeller Center and Bryant Park is a classic New York winter experience.
All three major rinks are open on Thanksgiving Day, as are the restaurants surrounding them.
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NIT Season Tip Off and Championship Game
NIT Pre Season Tip Off
Nov 27 – TBD
Nov 29 – TBD
Held every Thanksgiving Weekend, the Preseason NIT Tip-Off is a great way to kick off the beginning of the college basketball season and celebrate Thanksgiving in New York City.
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Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Photo Gallery
Thanksgiving in New York City – Closed Attractions
- Guggenheim Museum (Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas)
- Metropolitan Museum of Art (Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day)
- Museum of Modern Art (Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas)
- American Museum of Natural History (Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas)
- Whitney Museum (Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day)
- Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum (Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas)
- New York Botanical Garden Train Show (closed Thanksgiving and Christmas)