6 Tips for Watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Planning a visit to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City? It is back in person and maybe even bigger than ever before. Grab extra blankets, a thermos of hot chocolate and this list of the best viewing spots.

Watch the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons being inflated the night before.

Along with turkeys and football, it’s time for the Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. This NYC tradition was begun in 1924 by Macy’s first-generation immigrant staff which wanted to combine a celebration of this all-American holiday with some of their European traditions. Costumed employees marched along with animals on loan from the Central Park Zoo from 145th Street to 34th Street as the crowds cheered.

In all these years, the atmosphere has stayed pretty much the same. That’s why being out on the street early, bundled up against the sometimes very cold and rainy holiday, is so traditional.

Here are some Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade tips for enjoying it together. And if you decide your family would prefer to march in it and you’re willing to plan very far ahead, visit the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade website for information on joining the waiting list.

On November 25, 2021 (it was virtual last year), the 95th annual parade will start at Central Park West and 77th Street at 9am and reach Macy’s flagship department store by noon. Marchers will head south on Central Park West, travel east along Central Park South, and turn south on Sixth Avenue from West 59th Street to West 34th Street at Herald Square.

Top Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Viewing Tips

  • Plan to arrive as early as 6:00am if you want to get a spot at the curb (where you may set up your own chairs or spread out a blanket) as there is no seating available for the general public. Let little ones keep their PJs on under their outer clothes for warmth. Bleachers seen along the parade route are VIP only!
  • The best viewing spots are the west side of Central Park West from 75th to 59th Streets, or along Sixth Avenue from 59th to 38th Streets. It is not recommended to gather south of 36th Street, a very hectic area. Again, don’t forget your outerwear, some snacks, a thermos of hot chocolate and a camera.
  • Be sure to travel by subway to your viewing spot of choice, as many streets are closed to traffic for the safety of the marching bands and floats who wait to join the parade route.
  • If your family wants to spend the night before the parade in town, there’s plenty to do on Thanksgiving Eve. Wednesday between 3 to 10pm, bundle up and head to the area around the American Museum of Natural History, on 77th or 81st streets between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue. You can watch as the fabulous Garfield, Snoopy, Pikachu and friends come to helium-filled life. This is almost more fun for older kids, who will enjoy seeing the inflation diagrams posted at each balloon station. Little children may be frustrated by the crowds and the difficulty of getting a stroller down the crowded sidewalks; they also may be uncertain that the creature they’re looking at lying down in the street is actually the cartoon character they’ve come to admire. However, the later you go, the more of these colorful creatures will be inflated. And there are several cafes on Columbus Avenue for pricey hot chocolate after your viewing.

Do you need a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade View Hotel Room?

“Hello Kitty” is a favorite at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

Some rooms at the 1 Hotel Central Park, Courtyard by Marriott New York Manhattan/Herald Square, JW Marriott Essex House New York, Mandarin Oriental, New York, New York Hilton Midtown, Residence Inn Times Square, The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park and the Warwick New York Hotel will offer views of the event. To book, be sure to have a fat wallet and a very influential travel agent. Ask them to request a route-view room below the 12th floor as early as possible.

You can also search Expedia.com Hotels for deals and vacancies at the last minute. And remember that even if you don’t watch from your own guestroom, these hotels will have cozy warm-up stands in the lobby for guests who watch from the sidewalk out front.

Where is your Turkey coming from?

See NYC & Company for great suggestions on where to savor a turkey feast on the big Thursday, so you can be thankful for having seen the amazing Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in person.

And post your photos!

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