Before America collectively fashions a can holder out of its beer gut and settles in to watch some football, all eyes turn to Manhattan and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, an annual pageant of giant balloons, floats, cheerleaders, clowns, marching bands, Broadway shows and celebs. Sure, it's fun to watch in your PJs, but if you have visitors in town, take them to watch the procession in person. Use our guide to the parade route, this year's balloons and floats (or watch the pre-Thanksgiving ballon inflation), and nearby restaurants, bars and festive attractions to show your guests a world-renowned New York experience.
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View 88th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in a larger map
There are three recommended stretches or spots on the route for watching the parade: the first leg along Central Park West, Time Warner Center and, finally, along Sixth Avenue between Central Park South and 38th Street. The section from 38th Street to Herald Square and Macy's department store is the telecast area and closed to the public. While there is limited space for viewing along the south side of 34th Street between Broadway and Seventh Avenue, the sight lines are seriously compromised by cameras, lights and scaffolding.
Central Park West: Viewing starts at 75th Street (two blocks down from the official start of the parade) and is only open to the public on the west side. Central Park is closed for invite-only grandstand seating. The parade runs along this stretch from 9–10:30am, so early birds who don't mind turning up at 6am to snag a prime spot should flock here.
Time Warner Center: The Shops at Columbus Circle open at 9am on Thanksgiving Day. From the second and third floors of the mall, you'll enjoy an elevated view of the parade streaming down Central Park West. As an added bonus you'll also get to see the Holiday Under the Stars light display. Twofer!
Sixth Avenue: The floats and balloons reach Sixth Avenue at about 9:30am, so arrive at this 21-block portion as late as 7am and you should still find a good spot.
Attractions to see after the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
Sure, the 86th floor observatory at the Empire State Building is the original place to go for an eagle's-eye look at New York, and it's located atop a global icon. But at 70 stories up, the observation deck at TOTR affords a spectacular vista of Central Park without the crazy lines. Plus, the sprawling subterranean mall at 30 Rock offers amenities like shopping and eating.Read more
Restaurants near the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade route
Locavores can find a sophisticated farm-to-table spread at Bill Telepan’s Upper West Side favorite.Price: $95
On the menu: Options for the three-course repast include squash soup with chestnuts and whole wheat croutons; roasted organic turkey with traditional Thanksgiving trimmings, heritage pork with lentils and fingerling potatoes, or wild striped bass with sunchokes and spinach; and hot apple pie with cinnamon-caramel ice cream. Read more
John Fraser’s ambitious Upper West Side restaurant showcases sophisticated American food.Price: $98
On the menu: For your three-course meal, choose from a variety of selections, including tuna tartar with grapefruit and seaweed; slow-roasted turkey with leg confit, sweet potato and creamed winter greens; and a pumpkin cheesecake with bourbon pecans and cranberries for dessert. Read more
The dark, wood-paneled dining room and Art Deco grandeur set the stage for a Gatsby-esque mood and Geoffrey Zakarian’s clubby throwback fare.Price: $85; children 12 and under $35
On the menu: The three-course meal includes options such as heirloom apple salad with licorice herbs; heritage turkey leg confit or red-wine-glazed beef short rib with roasted potatos and braised swiss chard; and a selection of Thanksgiving pastries. Read more
Bars near the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
The circular bar at this comfortable neighborhood fixture, established in 1927, is packed almost nightly with postshow revelers seeping out of nearby Carnegie Hall. Sketches of bar patrons by contemporary artist Robert Cenedella (he’s captured regulars at Broome Street Bar as well) add a genteel touch to the mahogany walls, but most eyes focus on TVs showing a steady stream of sports. Crispy, beer-battered fish-and-chips complement a solid list of brews—21 on tap include Guinness and Blue Moon.Read more
In 2009, this rakish, 1970s-vintage piano bar in the Edison Hotel looked destined to go the way of the 99¢ peep show. But the team behind Tribeca mixology den Ward III ushered in a second act, introducing some key upgrades (including serious cocktails) while maintaining the charmingly offbeat flavor of the place. Forget you're a stone's throw from Times Square while listening to live jazz acts (Wednesday–Saturday nights) and sipping dark-spirit–heavy tipples, such as a funky old-fashioned riff that showcases the rich, tropical complexity of Banks 5 Island Rum. Those who suffer the cruel fate of being in Times Square on a weekend morning can console themselves with a range of six Bloody Marys (11am–5pm).Read more
Bona fide beer geeks come to this Herald Square bar for the dozens of drafts and the bar’s serious approach to beer. Retro posters cover the walls, adding to the aficionados-only vibe. Feel the need to sample every one of the 70 drafts, like the rare Hitachino Hefeweizen? Reserve a table for you and your fellow nerds.Read more
This boxing-themed dive bar is certainly more colorful than its Times Square brethren: Owner Jimmy Glenn can be found telling tales of his days as a coach at a nearby gym, and mirrors are covered with photos of his right-hook big shots. These days, it’s magazine honchos, not KO kings, who slum it here. The joint ain’t fancy—the full bar is standard, four beers are on tap and there’s soul on the juke—but it covers the basics just fine.Read more