Going to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade? Here's What to Know
One of New York City’s treasured Thanksgiving traditions is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the world’s largest parade and the second-longest-running Thanksgiving parade in the U.S. (after Philadelphia’s).
It’s also the only good reason to drag yourself out of bed before 6 a.m. on a holiday -- but to really make it worth it, you need to find a prime viewing spot to experience the magic of the dozens of balloons and floats that will be winding their way from Central Park through Midtown.
Here are our tips for making the most of your parade experience:
Know the route -- and where there’s no public viewing
The parade route starts at 77th St. & Central Park West, heads down Central Park West to Columbus Circle and continues along the park before turning south on 6th Ave. The parade then continues south on 6th Ave. before stopping at Macy’s Herald Square on 34th St.
There’s no public viewing on 6th Ave. from 34th to 38th streets due to the TV broadcast, and on 34th St. between Broadway and 7th Ave.
There’s limited public viewing on the south side of 34th St. between Broadway and 7th Ave.
Stick to the beginning of the parade route for the least-crowded views
The closer you get to Herald Square, the more crowds you’ll find. Your best bet for a mostly unobstructed view is the west side of Central Park West in the 60s or 70s, as the east side isn’t open to spectators.
If you arrive late or don’t mind missing some of the floats to have a more relaxing experience, you can always try walking through Central Park starting north of 86th Street; head south and you’ll find a few hills that offer a good vantage point of the balloons.
The parade may not start until 9 a.m. on Nov. 22, but you’ll want to make the trek from Brooklyn early if you want a shot at a good view; about 3.5 million people turn up every year to view the spectacle. Try to be in place by 6:30 a.m. for the best spots.
It won’t be much warmer than freezing by the time the parade starts -- and you’ll be standing around for at least an hour before it even begins. Wear layers, bring a hat and gloves and don’t forget a thermos of coffee or hot cocoa to help keep you warm until the fun starts.
Don’t rely on the subway if you don’t have to
We all know how unreliable the New York City subway system can be. If you’re running short on time, consider taking a Lyft once you’re in Manhattan, or walking if you encounter delays in Midtown. There’s no reason your fate has to rest in the hands of the MTA on an already busy day.
Photo credit: Frank Camp/Creative Commons