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How To Prepare For Thanksgiving in New York

October 4, 2023 By CityPASS

Thanksgiving in New York City is filled with festive sights, sounds, and experiences. From the iconic Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade to skating in Central Park, there are countless ways to celebrate the holidays and take advantage of the festive spirit in this world-famous metropolis. This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know to plan the perfect NYC getaway this Thanksgiving.

Why Thanksgiving Is a Great Time To Visit New York

While New York City dazzles year-round, the energy in the city shifts as the holiday season begins, blanketing the streets with twinkling lights and festive decor. Families, friends, and visitors from around the world flock to experience a New York Thanksgiving and revel in beloved American traditions, see spectacular holiday displays, and feast on Thanksgiving dinner.

Things To Do on Thanksgiving Day in NYC

Thanksgiving Day brings some of the year's most exciting events to the city that never sleeps. From can't-miss entertainment to stunning views, here are some of the top things to do on Thanksgiving Day in New York City:

Watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade

No Thanksgiving in New York City is complete without attending the iconic Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. This annual tradition dates back nearly 100 years, thrilling crowds with its larger-than-life balloons, incredible floats, marching bands, festive music, and appearance by Santa Claus himself.

Bundle up, arrive early to secure a prime viewing spot, and watch as the three-hour parade travels from Central Park West to Herald Square. This free event is perfect for the whole family.

Experience Breath-Taking Views From Top of the Rock

You can see stunning 360-degree views of the entire city — including the parade route — from the Top of the Rock Observation Deck. Located atop 30 Rockefeller Plaza in Midtown, Top of the Rock spans three floors and offers unobstructed panoramas from 70 stories up.

Its indoor and outdoor viewing areas let you admire sites like Central Park, the Empire State Building, and Lady Liberty herself. Visiting on Thanksgiving means smaller crowds so you can comfortably enjoy the sights during this magical time. Before you get to the observation deck, check out the Mezzanine Exhibit to learn about the history of the building and its architecture.

See All Major Landmarks With Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises

Many popular NYC attractions like the Statue of Liberty aren't open on Thanksgiving Day, but you can hop aboard a Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise to marvel at the city's iconic landmarks from a different vantage point. Feel the holiday spirit as you sail past the Brooklyn Bridge, Ellis Island, and more.

Circle Line offers a variety of cruise options. The heated vessels have indoor and outdoor seating so you can capture stunning photos no matter the weather.

Celebrate With Champagne in the Edge at Hudson Yards

Make reservations for a luxurious holiday toast at the Edge Observation Deck, which is open 365 days a year. It's the highest outdoor sky deck in the Western Hemisphere — on the 100th floor, it suspends you 1,100 feet above street level.

The recently opened Champagne Bar provides stunning panoramas. Toast to the holiday with the city stretched before your feet.

Work Up An Appetite With Ice Skating in Central Park

Get your tummy ready for traditional turkey, pumpkin pie, and cranberry sauce by ice skating at one of New York City's most iconic and picturesque rinks: Wollman Rink in Central Park. The rink offers skating sessions throughout Thanksgiving Day amid dazzling skyline views.

What To Do Before and After the Holiday

Thanksgiving may be the star of the show during a New York City holiday vacation, but festivities last from mid-November through New Year's Day. Here are some magical attractions and activities you can enjoy before and after Turkey Day:

  • Grab some comfortable walking shoes and soak up the festive spirit at Bryant Park's Winter Village. There, you can ice skate, browse holiday shops and eateries, or lounge in heated alpine cabins.
  • Sip hot chocolate as you gaze at elaborate holiday window displays along Fifth Avenue, including Lord & Taylor's historic animatronic windows.
  • Stroll through Grand Central Terminal's annual Holiday Fair market to find unique gifts crafted by local artisans.
  • View the massive origami holiday tree and enjoy seasonal treats at the American Museum of Natural History.

Ideal Length of Stay During the Holiday Season

To make the most of everything New York City has to offer this Thanksgiving, plan to stay at least four to nine days. This will allow you ample time to partake in the festivities while exploring the city before and after the holiday.

Ideally, arrive the weekend before Thanksgiving and stay through the Sunday after. That way, you can fully experience the lead-up fanfare before watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Then, you'll have time to walk off the holiday meal and do some gift shopping on Black Friday.

Plan Your Visit to New York During the Holidays With a New York CityPASS® Ticket

Getting a New York CityPASS® ticket is the best way to maximize your time exploring NYC over Thanksgiving. This smart pass offers prepaid admission to New York’s best things to do to save you big money.

There are a few different ticket options depending on your interests. Here’s a list of some of the available attractions:

A CityPASS® ticket takes all the stress out of planning and budgeting your iconic New York City experiences. Grab yours now and begin counting down the days until your magical Thanksgiving holiday in the Big Apple.

New York City Lodging

To get the most out of your stay in New York City, we recommend finding lodging near New York City's top attractions. Use this map to find the right lodging for you:

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