If you grew up watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade every year, you’ve likely dreamed of going to see it live in New York City. Who wouldn’t want to be part of this fun event, at least once? If you’re planning to join the throngs this year, you’ll definitely be the envy of those of us who are left behind at home.
Need some parade watching advice? Read on to learn some Thanksgiving Parade secrets!
Where to Watch
There are many great places to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade along its famous route, but you’ll have to know where to go before you get there so you don’t get lost in the craziness on Thanksgiving morning. Be sure to arrive early so you can get a good spot. The parade starts at 9:00 am, but it’s wise to begin claiming your spot at 6:30. Be sure to bring a chair to sit on! You’ll be there for a long time, and you won’t have much curb space available for sitting when your feet get tired.
Claim your spot in a good viewing location. You’ll get to see a great show in most places along the route, but the upper west side is especially good. That is where the parade starts and ends. This is also the spot that sees the parade for the shortest amount of time, since the beginning of the parade isn’t slowed down by delays. You can see it all more quickly, so you can go get that cup of hot coffee you’ll be craving after a couple hours!
Another good spot is Columbus Circle, since you won’t have tall buildings blocking your way and you can get a better panorama. Don’t park yourself in the center of the chaos, though. Macy’s might seem like a good vantage point, but it’s not—it is super crowded and crazy. No matter what part of the route you end up on, try to pick a place with access to bathroom breaks—and maybe some coffee.
Where to Stay
If you want to stand on the street to watch the parade, you’ll have your pick of rooms. However, you can enjoy the parade in warmth and comfort if you book a hotel room with a parade view.
Now, let me warn you in advance that these rooms are not cheap. Oh, no! Quite to the contrary. However, if you can’t take the cold and you’re dying to see the parade, you’ll probably find them to be worth the price.
There are several hotels that can offer parade-view rooms:
Warwick New York Hotel is one of the best parade-view locations. If you can manage to book a balcony room at Warwick New York, you’ll have a really spectacular view of the parade. However, there are many non-balcony rooms that have incredible views of the parade, as well.
Essex House is another good option. From this hotel, you can watch the parade make its way down the street along Central Park South. You can either book a parade-view room, or get a buffet brunch package for Thanksgiving Day.
Residence Inn New York’s floors four through ten offer awesome parade-view rooms! This hotel is just a block from the Seventh Avenue fanfare and along the Sixth Avenue parade route. This hotel is ideal for families, since the rooms are large and have kitchenettes.
Mandarin Oriental has awesome parade-viewing rooms, especially on the 43rd to 54th floors! Watch the festivities through floor-to-ceiling windows when you stay on the upper floors. Or, go all out and book a package that includes the view from the hotel’s huge ballroom.
New York Hilton Midtown is right in the middle of the parade’s route! You can choose a cheaper partial view room option, or go with a Premium View for more than a grand a night! Book a no-view room, and you’ll still have the chance to call dibs on a spot right in front of the building.
Trump International Hotel is incredible but expensive. If you don’t mind spending a small fortune on hotel accommodations, then you’ll definitely want to stay in Trump International Hotel! This hotel gives you spectacular parade views and offers all the papering your heart could desire.
Where to Eat
Can’t book a parade-view room? Try booking a spot in a restaurant along the route! Whether you want to watch from a restaurant or just get some lunch after the show, you can’t beat the food you’ll find along the parade route. For casual family-friendly food, try Burger Joint. If you’re looking for something fancier, Epicerie Boulud and Landmarc are also excellent. If none of those appeal to your taste buds, there is always The Smith Lincoln Center, Todd English Food Hall, or McCormick & Schmick’s.
What to Wear
You may be outside in the chill November air for up to five hours, so it’s wise to wear warm layers! It might even snow, so be prepared. You don’t want to be miserable during this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Don’t underdo it—remember, you can always take layers off. Put on plenty of layers of warm clothes, socks, warm boots, gloves, hat, and more.
Is It Worth It?
Is viewing the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade worth it? After all, you’ll be incurring hefty charges from holiday airfare, Thanksgiving weekend hotel stays, and New York City expenses in general. Plus, you’ll be freezing cold and standing on the sidewalk for hours! Is it really worth all the trouble to see some dances and balloons?
If you ask me, I’d say absolutely! I don’t think it would be awesome to do every year, but it’s definitely worth it to make the trip once in your lifetime. After all, this is a long-standing tradition and part of American culture.
So there you have it! The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a great way to make Thanksgiving extra special. It may seem early to start planning, but this is a big event and Thanksgiving travel is notoriously expensive and hectic, so plan ahead. You’ll never forget what it’s like to be a part of the event in real life.