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How to Celebrate Thanksgiving in New York City

Start your holiday season in the Big Apple with Thanksgiving fun this season.

One of the holidays New York City is best known for celebrating with flair is Thanksgiving. People from around the world come to the city at the end of November to watch holiday magic right before their eyes. There are events larger than life on the streets, shops to help you find the perfect gift for the holidays and restaurants waiting to serve you a meal you’ll never forget. If you want to know the best way to celebrate Thanksgiving in the city this year, here are some holiday staples that everyone should try at least once in NYC.

Four Ways to Enjoy Thanksgiving in New York City

Watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade celebrates its 96th year this holiday season. If you’re in New York City for Thanksgiving, check this event off your bucket list and see it live and in person. The parade is the most iconic part of Thanksgiving in the Big Apple. Thousands of people line up along the streets of Manhattan to see beautiful floats, live performances and giant balloons of their favorite characters riding by. It’s a favorite among residents and visitors alike, and there’s no better way to ring in the holidays. If you plan on seeing the parade live rather than on TV, there are some things you’ll need to know to help you enjoy the experience.

  • Make sure to check online for the details and line-up. The parade begins at 9 a.m. on November 24 at W. 77th Street and Central Park West. The parade continues down Central Park West, around Columbus Circle to W. 59th Street and down Sixth Avenue. From there, the parade turns onto W. 34th Street and ends at Macy’s Herald Square.
  • Arrive early. While the parade starts at 9 a.m., it’s recommended to arrive at least three hours early to guarantee a spot on the street.
  • Dress in layers. It’s known to be a cold day when the parade hits the streets, so it’s important to bundle up while enjoying it outdoors.
  • Stay overnight. The parade route runs outside of a number of local hotels, so consider visiting the city the night before, so you don’t have to worry about the morning rush.
    Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade New York | WHERE Traveler®
    Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (©Julienne Schaer/NYC & Company)

    Eat Thanksgiving Dinner

    While it’s tradition to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with the family at home, some families may want to take it a step beyond the house. City restaurants always want to give guests some style with their meals, and the holidays are no exception. That’s why there are several places hosting Thanksgiving dinner alongside their normal menus. Guests can step inside and enjoy a multi-course Thanksgiving feast with a global touch. While some restaurants offer the classic Turkey and stuffing, others put their own twist on the feast, such as adding flowers or serving it Mediterranean style (like IL Fiorista, Tavern on the Green and Barbounia). You can also check out this list of private rooms for festive group dining

    Thanksgiving Dinner | WHERE Traveler®
    Thanksgiving Dinner (©Claudio Schwarz)

    Take a Thanksgiving Cruise

    Boat tours are a popular way to explore the city, as you can see every inch by riding along the Hudson or East Rivers. They’re even more special during Thanksgiving, thanks to the number of Thanksgiving cruises offered to celebrate on the high seas. Passengers on board these ships will find a holiday feast they can enjoy alongside a view of the city skyline from the water. Thanks to the addition of live DJs and activities for all ages, each voyage can turn into a party to celebrate the holidays like never before. Enjoy a New York Thanksgiving Day Dinner Cruise that departs from 61 Chelsea Piers, or Thanksgiving Brunch, Harvest and Dinner Cruises that depart from 2 E. 42nd St. 

    New York City Water View | WHERE Traveler®
    New York City Water View (©Tobias Reich)

    Shop for Black Friday Deals

    While it may not be an ideal shopping day thanks to the crowds, Black Friday is known for the deals stores offer to customers so they can start their holiday shopping off right. The day after Thanksgiving looks a little different for city visitors thanks to the number of specialty goods and popular stores filled with top-name brands that make it a hotspot for shopping. If you’re in New York City on Black Friday, make sure you take advantage of their Black Friday deals while they last at shops like Macy’s Herald Square, the Apple Store and Saks Fifth Avenue

    Holiday Shopping | WHERE Traveler®
    Holiday Shopping (©Erik McLean)