If you're staying in NYC during this food-heavy holiday, chances are your folks are in town and they’re looking for awesome things to do on Thanksgiving weekend. This is the perfect time to take them to festive sights like iconic ice-skating rinks or yuletide holiday markets at NYC parks while the city's delightfully deserted. On the other hand, if you're here and want to avoid Christmas in New York entirely, we've got your agenda for a cultured couple of days away from all the turkeys. Check out our list of the best Thanksgiving events below.
RECOMMENDED: A full guide to Thanksgiving in NYC
Best things to do on Thanksgiving
This pre–Turkey Day ritual, held near the American Museum of Natural History, has become almost as crowded as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but we prefer it to the main event. Why? We like to weave through the crowds, walking past the inflation stations to see SongeBob SquarePants at our own pace. Inflation takes place from 3 to 10pm. Arrive later in the evening, when the gigantic characters have taken shape; the crowds are at their peak, so you can also show off the famed New York sidewalk shuffle. Enter at W 79th St at Columbus Ave.
If the tryptophan doesn’t put you under, head to Williamsburg’s cinema-meets-bar to spend Thanksgiving evening immersed in everyone’s favorite whodunit. Sidle up to a board game or kick back with a slice of pumpkin pie and a nightcap from the evening’s special brandy menu. The camp classic runs continuously from 4pm to 1am, so if you don’t know all of the lines already, you will by the night’s end.
Brooklyn disco palace House of Yes expresses gratitude to its regular revelers with a night of jubilant dancing, circus acts and psychedelia. You’re guaranteed an endorphin rush that will see you through all the emotional ups and downs of your family reunion.
For those hotheads who can’t keep still, this legendary rager promises to deliver a volcano of sexual and social dynamism. Join the “master of disco soul” Nicky Siano—whose DJ résumé includes Studio 54 and the Gallery—and host Rebecca Lynn at Good Room for hard beats and sweaty dancing. As if that weren't enough, Justin Strauss and Billy Caldwell serve up the best in disco and dance music in the Bad Room.
Bryant Park’s 17,000-square-foot outdoor rink is free and open late. Don’t get too excited—the admission may be gratis, but you’ll have to shell out $20 to rent skates (or BYO). Still, it’s a veritable winter wonderland: After your time on the ice, warm up at spacious rinkside restaurant Public Fare. If you want to practice your lutzes and axels with ample spinning room, try visiting during off-peak hours.
You'll get a kick out of this holiday stalwart, which—after more than eight decades—still features Santa, wooden soldiers and the leggy, spunky Rockettes. In recent years, new music, more eye-catching costumes and advanced technology were introduced to bring audience members closer to the performance.
This family-friendly 10-mile ride has all your Thanksgiving fixings covered. Midway through a brisk cycle of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, you'll stop with your new riding buddies for a pancake diner breakfast, then hit the road again. If you're looking to show off your athletic figure beneath your turkey costume, now's your chance. Starting point: 23rd Street and FDR Drive, Manhattan.