Watching the Macy’s Day parade in New York is a Thanksgiving tradition. Over the years I can remember waking up Thanksgiving mornings and watching the parade on TV while prepping a Thanksgiving feast. I loved seeing the marching bands, a few celebrities sit atop of various floats, and of course seeing Santa at the end was a highlight. I had always wanted to go to the parade in person. That dream was realized for the first time about 10 years ago, and I have gone once more since that time.
If you find yourself in New York for Thanksgiving, I highly recommend attending the parade. It’s a great event to bring kids to, go with friends, or watch solo.
Here are my top recommendations to have a successful and fun time watching the Macy’s Day parade.
What is the parade route?
The parade begins at the corner of west 77th street and Central Park West. It takes a turn east on 59th street before going south on 6th avenue, eventually going west on 34th street where it ends at the corner of 34th street and 7th avenue. The entire route is two and a half miles.
What time should I arrive?
The parade kicks off at 9:00am sharp and ends at exactly 12:00pm noon. Depending on where you want to view the parade will dictate how early you should arrive.
There are over 3.5 million people that come out annually to view the parade, so planning early for arrival is essential. Depending on where you view the parade dictates how early you should arrive.
Here are the arrival times for all areas along the parade route:
- Central Park West – arrive 3 hours early – 6:00am.
- Columbus Circle – arrive at 9:00am (Doors open to the Shops at Columbus Circle, where you can view from the warmth inside. Go to the 2nd floor windows for the best view.)
- 6th Avenue -arrive two hours early – 7:00am
- 34th St. – arrive 3 hours early – 6:00am
What Should I Wear?
What to wear the day of the parade will depend on the weather forecast but as a general rule of thumb, dress in layers. I could be a clear day or it could rain or even snow. The first year I went it actually rained. I did have an umbrella, but then so did everyone else, which made viewing the balloons from above a challenge.
Bonus: Watch the balloons get inflated
The day before the parade, you can watch all of the balloons get inflated. I have not done this personally, but it sounds like a great experience. I say grab some hot chocolate and head to the intersections of Central Park West and 77th Street through 81st street between the hours of 1:00pm-8:00pm to watch the balloons come to life as they are inflated.
The Top Hotels To Stay During Along the Parade Route
- Mandarin Oriental New York – The Mandarin Oriental is situated on Columbus Circle, a prime location on the Macy’s Day Parade Route. A high end splurge on accommodations, sure, but you will have a luxurious stay!
- New York Hilton Midtown – This spot sits along 6th avenue where most rooms have a full or partial view of the parade. This is also a more affordable New York hotel and is centrally located, which makes getting around to the sites easy.
- Residence Inn New York Manhattan/Times Square – This hotel like the New York Hilton sits along 6th avenue offering prime viewing of the Macy’s Day Parade route.
Enjoy Some Holiday Festivities
The day after Thanksgiving is the official kick-off to the holiday season. If you are still in town past Thanksgiving day you may want to enjoy some of the wonderful holiday traditions that New York has to offer.
In 2016 my mom and I spent a long weekend in New York during December and I must say it was a great way to get into the holiday spirit! I think New York comes alive during the holiday season. If you would like some tips on what to see, do and eat in NYC for the holidays checkout my full blog post titled, Christmas Itinerary for New York City.