With confidence I can say, attending the NYC Macy’s Parade on Thanksgiving Day ranks in my Top 10 experiences of life.
It’s one thing to watch it on TV, but an entirely different experience being in NYC for the Macy’s Parade. It is with emphasis that I say, if you ever have the opportunity to go- do it! I firmly believe it’s something you’ll never regret and the memories will last a lifetime.
But, that being said, there is A LOT you need to know about planning your trip!
My first piece of advice is- start now. It’s never too early (or too late, for that matter) to begin your planning. No matter when you start you will likely not get your ideal choice on everything. Likewise, NYC is a big city. You could show up the day before and find some sort of arrangements. Save yourself the possible disappointment and plan early!
Here’s a step by step guide for planning your trip to see the Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City:
Book A Hotel Room
As I mentioned, there are thousands of places to stay in NYC. The best option for one person, may not be the ideal option for another. However, typically the hotels along the parade route are the most sought after. And you will pay, dearly, for a room with a view. Here are a few questions you should ask when deciding where to stay for the parade:
- Is there a minimum night requirement? Often hotels along the parade route will not allow you to just book Wednesday evening.
- Is viewing the parade from my room a priority? Keep in mind, there are very few perfect views! Some hotels may guarantee parade view room, but it might be so high up that you’ll need binoculars. Also, the windows may be small and not optimally angled for a street view.
- Is paying to stay along the parade route worth it? This will always be a personal preference. If you have young children, it really is nice to have your hotel close by and not have to walk far distances on the morning of the parade. Also, having a convenient bathroom (most hotels will make you show proof that you are staying there to enter) is really nice!
- Top hotels in NYC along the route for the 2019 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade:
- JW Marriott Essex House *Our hotel of choice*
- New York Hilton Midtown
- Residence Inn New York Manhattan / Times Square
- 6 Columbus Circle -Central Park
- Courtyard Marriott New York Manhattan / Herald Square
- Trump International Hotel
- Ritz-Carlton New York- Central Park
Other great hotel options close to the 2019 Parade Route:
- Hilton Garden Inn New York / West35th Street
- SpringHill Suites Midtown Manhattan / 5th Avenue
- Le Meridien New York / Central Park
- Sheraton New York / Times Square
- Embassy Suites Manhattan / Times Square
- Fairfield Inn & Suites Manhattan / Central Park
Make Thanksgiving Meal Reservations
The restaurant scene on Thanksgiving Day in New York is pretty crazy. Many restaurants will do a pre-fix traditional thanksgiving meal. Other restaurants in city will go to a very limited special menu. And then some will continue with their typical daily menu. Finally, a few will be closed for the holiday. There is really no in between option.
If you want Thanksgiving food, you need a reservation and will pay a pretty steep price for turkey and the fixings.
Our family was split down the middle with 2 preferring a traditional turkey meal, and 2 wanting regular food. We searched high and low for a restaurant to accommodate our preferences, and one doesn’t exist. You will need to make a decision and a reservation!
A few of the most popular spots in the city to eat a traditional pre-fix Thanksgiving meal:
- Tavern on the Green
- The View
- The Pandering Pig
- Market Table
- Croton Reservoir Tavern
- Haven Rooftop
- Fig & Olive -5th Avenue
- Simon & The Whale
- The Palm West Side
- Hornblower NYC Dinner Cruise
Schedule other NYC activities
Although the Macy’s parade and celebrating Thanksgiving will be your main travel priorities, chances are you’ll have a little more time for other activities. My top recommendation is booking tickets for the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular. Tickets are already on sale.
If you have children you may also want to consider booking a time to visit Santaland at Macy’s. Reservations are now required (yet you still have to wait in line), but the experience is worth it!
Beyond those two uniquely Christmastime New York experiences, you may want to book tickets to Broadway shows and make other dining reservations. Keep in mind, the weekend of Thanksgiving is one of the most popular times to visit so things will book quickly.
Depending on what activities you’re interested in, you may want to look into purchasing a CityPASS. It will save you 43% or more on New York’s 6 best attractions.
To plan other great Christmas specific activities, check out my New York City Christmas Bucket List.
I can assure you, there is absolutely NOTHING worse than NOT being prepared with the right clothes on the morning of the parade! And, I guarantee that everyone in the city will scramble if the forecast changes last minute. You do not want to pay NYC prices for rain ponchos or HotHands Hand Warmers.
Do yourself a favor and pack well!
Assuming the temperatures are cold (which they typically are in New York in late November), you will want to pack layers. Our family purchased long thermal underwear sets and they were worth every penny. On top of that we added many layers of pants, sweaters and jackets. We also bought thick wool socks.
However, we did make one major mistake in our planning…
We did not invest in proper shoes. In hindsight, they would have been priceless. My 6-year old’s feet got extremely cold in his tennis shoes and he was miserable. I honestly didn’t realize how necessary a good pair of weatherproof boots would be for this particular event.
You will also want to pack either a waterproof thermal blanket to sit on while you wait, or Portable Folding Chairs (if you have space.)
Bonus Tip: I ordered my kiddos turkey hats and they were probably the biggest hit in NYC! Everyone stopped us and asked where we’d gotten them (and several people even offered to buy them off my children’s heads!)
I hope this post helps you out as you begin to plan your perfect trip to the NYC Macy’s Parade on Thanksgiving Day!
In a few weeks I will be posting a complete guide to attending- including where to sit, bathroom access, what time to arrive, etc. Be sure to check back!
In the meantime, you may enjoy reading:
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade: What You Don’t See On TV
New York City Christmas: A List of Must-Do Magical Experiences
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Thanks for the great information for us.