Halloween is over and that means that it’s time to get ready for Thanksgiving. Ever since I was a little girl I’ve always loved Thanksgiving and of course the Thanksgiving Day Parade! I grew up in Ohio and loved baking (or more realistically watching my dad bake while I taste-tested for him) and watching the famous Macy’s Day Parade in my jammies and socks at the kitchen table. Now that I’m a big girl though and live in New York City, I’m a little closer to the action! The holiday season is one of the best times to visit Manhattan. It’s magical! Truly! And nothing is more iconic than the Macy’s Day Parade! There are a few helpful tips though to make your day a bit more enjoyable. If you go in “cold turkey” you will wish you had done a little research so here are some tips from moi for watching the Macy’s Day Parade in person!
And here are even more fabulous tips to help you make your viewing experience of the Macy’s Day parade an enjoyable one!
The Macy’s Day Parade Route
The parade route has changed over the last few years so be sure to verify where it will be before you plan to stake out your seat. I recommend visiting the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Website. You’ll be able to see the route map, directions, nearby subways, the lineup and plenty of other tips. This year it will start on Central Park West head down from 77th until 59th street. At this point the route then veers to the east and heads down 6th Avenue until about 38th street.
Where to Watch
While it may seem counterintuitive, it’s not really possible to watch the parade near Macy’s itself and actually several blocks near the mega store are blocked off to the general public. Generally from about 34-38th streets on 6th Avenue. The best place to watch the parade is on the Upper West Side and specifically near Columbus Circle—you may recognize this locale from Tower Heist with Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy.
Where to Use the Bathroom
Wherever you choose to stand, consider staking out a spot near a restaurant or coffee spot that has a bathroom. Not only will you be able to get warm beverages and snacks to sustain you but you’ll also be nearby to a bathroom. You’ll have to have someone from your party stake out your location when those of you who have to go to the bathroom head off. I promise you when I say your spot will disappear if you step away for a minute.
When Does the Macy’s Day Parade Start
The Macy’s Day Parade begins at 9am but to get the best spot, you’re going to need to get up extremely early—early risers can start staking out their ground at 6am on Central Park West from 59th to 75th streets. This may sound crazy but I assure you, you won’t be alone! There is no actual seating—other than the grandstands reserved for Macy’s employees. That means even nothing for handicapped folks. Bottom Line? Plan on standing for an extended period of time or bringing a fold-up chair or stool so you don’t have to be on your feet the entire time.
What to Wear to Macy’s Day Parade
Standing outside in the Fall in NYC can get pretty chilly! Dress in layers and be sure to bring a scarf, hat and gloves. It’s also a good idea to bring hand warmers if you’re someone who gets cold easily. Also, bring the most comfortable shoes you own and make sure they’re warm! I’d recommend Uggs and some thick socks!
It’s going to be a long morning so you should also pack some snacks and definitely some warm beverages in a thermos if you can.
What Else is There to Know About the Macy’s Day Parade?
Brace yourself for lots and lots of people. This is New York, everywhere, especially famous attractions like the Macy’s Day Parade get crowded. In fact, more than 3 million people flock to the city to enjoy the parade. Prepare to be pushed around and stand shoulder-to-shoulder between tons of other parade-goers. And there is no secret spot to truly avoid the crowds so if you don’t like lots of people, you may want to stick to watching it on TV.
If you aren’t thrilled about roughing it, you can always splurge and spend the money for a hotel in NYC that is parade adjacent and watch it from your hotel room. Trump International and Mandarin Oriental will allow you to watch the parade comfortably from inside your warm room. Be aware though that prices will likely run you about $1000 and require booking over a year in advance to secure a reservation.
If you just want to see the floats without all the hassle you can check them out at the free viewing the evening before the parade. Check the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade website for information on where to go for your favorite floats. Generally it’s on the Upper West Side near Central Park.
When the parade ends it is literally a stampede to the subways and you can pretty much forget about finding a taxi. Instead, find a restaurant close to where you plan to watch the parade and make a lunch reservation. You can outsmart the other parade goers by enjoying a a meal while you wait for crowds to thin out.
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Katie is a luxury lifestyle expert. She runs luxury lifestyle sites, KatieLara.com and Smartypanties.com. But she's not only a luxury lifestyle blogger, she's also a freelance writer for The Huffington Post, Fodor's, Forbes, Pursuitist, Just Luxe and She Knows. She's also a professional photographer and her photos often appear alongside her writing.