If you have never watched any American movie or television show, only then can you be forgiven for not knowing that Thanksgiving (the last Thursday in November) is one of America’s biggest and most celebrated holidays. Because it’s such a huge event, New York City is going to be busy, so just by having an idea of what you’d like to do and planning ahead, you’ll be ready to enjoy the festivities.
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
Picture credit: Barry Schwartz
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a spectacular event to behold – huge balloons, floats, bands, dancers, music, colour, Santa and smiles – all for free! You cannot be in New York on this holiday without experiencing this, so the only question is – where to watch it from?
The parade begins next to Central Park at 77th St. and makes its way down to finish on 34th St. outside Macy’s (see the map above). If your hotel doesn’t come with a view along the parade route, then there is still 2.5 miles of public viewing space to choose from. Our advice to secure yourself a great spot, is to head early to Sixth Avenue, anywhere between 59th St. and 38th St. there are plenty of places nearby to grab a cup of Joe to keep you warm whilst you wait – and it is certainly worth the wait.
Picture credit: Vanessa Rees
New York on a regular day is overwhelming with fantastic restaurants, bars, diners and street vendors. So you will be more than spoilt for choice for food at Thanksgiving – the time for feasting! A traditional Thanksgiving meal is plentiful and much-like a traditional Christmas dinner back home, with roast turkey, vegetables and all the trimmings. So if you are saving yourself for a huge turkey feast for Christmas, then we recommend trying one of New York’s twists on their traditional meals. Little Italy or Chinatown would be delicious culinary areas to visit. However, we would check out Miss Lily’s, which offers a West Indian take on Thanksgiving, including jerk turkey and Caribbean pumpkin soup.
Want to keep it traditional? Then we recommend Bubby’s, who are not only offering a mouth-watering menu (including the classic pumpkin pie), but they are donating their proceeds from the day to the NYC Rescue Mission. Now that really is the spirit of the season!
Schools and offices may be closed for the day, but many of New York’s attractions and tours are still open and bustling on Thanksgiving. They can still get busy, though, so we definitely recommend booking your ticket or tour in advance (you can wing it on the day, but don’t say we didn’t warn you!).
The attractions open on Thanksgiving include Ice Skating at the Wollman Rink (above), The Empire State Building, Top of the Rock and the One World Observatory, so there is more than plenty to fit into your holiday visit to New York City.
Picture credit: Jonathan Alcorn
Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving and if you’re in New York to shop, then this is the day for you. Big names from Apple to Abercrombie and Fitch - even the outlets at Woodbury Common - will be opening their doors and lowering their prices for one day only. Yes, the shops can get busy, but again, with some planning, a shopping list and an early start, you’re sure to pick yourself up a few bargains.
Festive markets start popping up around this time of year, too, so keep an eye out for them - the perfect places for picking up crafts and gifts. Just remember to grab yourself a bigger suitcase while you’re there, to make sure you have the space to take it all back home with you!