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10 insider tips for this year's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 2013
Photograph: Filip Wolak Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 2013

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade; It's one of those wonderfully tourist-y things New Yorkers secretly would like to try, but never actually do. We get it. Heading to a parade that 3.5 million people attended last year can be super intimidating, let alone trying to find a good view once you get there. Don't let the crowds get you down! We've compiled 10 genius tips so that you can finally enjoy the parade minus the anxiety. You're welcome.  

RECOMMENDED: The guide to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

1. Travel underground. Sure, hopping in a cab is a great way to escape the cold, but you can’t escape the traffic. Brave the subway to get to your perfect inflatable-Snoopy viewing spot.

2. Columbus Circle is the place to be. Thanks to the roundabout’s proximity to the streets and Central Park, you can expect to be especially dazzled by the view here. Hop on the A/B/C/D/1 to 59th St Columbus Circle to get straight there.

3. Don’t be tardy to the party. Last year, Macy’s advised 3.5 million guests to show up no later than 6am (the parade begins at 9am). One-up your competition by getting there even earlier, like 4am. No, we’re not joking. It’s legal to sit on sidewalk benches for as long as you like. Hint, hint.

4. Stay in the first place you find. One large head slightly blocking your view sounds way better than missing the whole show searching for a better location. Park it, buddy.

5. Stay away from Macy’s on 34th Street. This may seem counterintuitive since you’re at a Macy’s parade, but trust us: There’s no viewing access at Sixth Avenue between 34th and 38th Streets as it’s closed off for press, but you can try to get a close-up on performances at the south side of 34th Street between Broadway and Seventh Avenue. You'll have plenty of time to shop on Black Friday.

6. Splurge on a window seat. Several hotels offer Thanksgiving-parade packages where you can get a room with a view of the celebration. The New York Hilton Midtown (starting at $550) and Mandarin Oriental (starting at $1,095) have viewing rooms available especially for the occasion. Go splitsies with 20 of your closest friends.

7. The farther you are from the start of the parade, the longer it lasts. The event goes on for about an hour and a half if you’re near the beginning of the route (Central Park West at 77th St; take the B/C to 81st St) and up to three hours if you’re at the end (Seventh Ave at 34th St; take the A/C/E/1/2/3 to Penn Station or the B/D/F/M/N/Q/R to 34 St Herald Square).

8. Avoid Times Square crowds. While the procession doesn’t cut directly through one of the most visited tourist locations in America, it does skirt past it. To be safe, don’t settle within a five-block radius of 42nd Street.

9. Make reservations at a nearby restaurant. Schedule brunch at Asiate on Columbus Circle or Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House on Sixth Avenue between 48th and 49th Streets so you can feast while you watch. Or check out other restaurants serving Thanksgiving feasts and pies for a post-parade pig out.

10. Consider the call of nature. Be sure to find a location close to shops or cafés with available bathrooms. There are no porta-potties on the parade route. Don’t miss SpongeBob because you were on the toilet one avenue away!

Still not sure you're parade-ready? Check out these high-flying pictures from last year's event to help sway your decision.

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