With copious amounts of tasty foods, a long weekend off work, wine flowing, and football games to be watched, Thanksgiving is America’s favorite holiday—for adults. But even though there aren’t the presents and sparkly spectacles of Hanukkah or Christmas, your kids can still get in on the Thanksgiving action, especially if you are in NYC.
Thanksgiving in New York City signals the true beginning of the holiday season as stores unveil their Christmas windows, restaurants begin serving their savory seasonal fare, and a spirit of conviviality fills the entire city.
But what can you do with kids on Thanksgiving in New York City? Put on a wooly hat, and let’s go explore.
The Balloon Inflation
Watch your kids’ eyes light up as the massive balloons used in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade are blown up right along Central Park West. Of course, there are the classic balloons, but this year the parade is adding five brand-new designs. If you go to the balloon inflation on Thanksgiving Eve, you and your family will be the first to see new SpongeBob, Smokey the Bear, Astronaut Snoopy, Dr. Suess characters from “Green Eggs and Ham,” and a rather otherworldly balloon from artist Yayoi Kusama.
Watch the Parade
It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving in New York City without the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. Actors, singers, dancers, costumed characters, giant floats, and of course, the aforementioned balloons glide down Central Park West all the way to Herald Square in front of the Macy’s flagship store. Catch performances from Broadway shows and your kids’ favorite stars along the route. Just remember to bundle up.
A Twist on Thanksgiving Dinner
Thanksgiving is about tradition, of course. But if your tradition is standing waiting for the turkey to be just perfect or spending hours making the side dishes, maybe it’s time to let go of those traditions. After all, you’re in NYC, where the only recipe you’ll ever need is a reservation. To really switch things up, head to Hill Country BBQ for Thanksgiving dinner. With a rustic Southern theme and veritable “rancher’s feast” of Southern classics, including a pit-smoked turkey, your kids are guaranteed a good time — if not copious amounts of lemonade and sweet tea.
After the parade is over and you’ve had your delicious Thanksgiving meal, walk off those extra calories, and take a look at the window displays along 5th Avenue. Start at vaunted Bergdorf Goodman, where the windows are always full of whimsy and holiday cheer and work your way downtown, stopping by Saks Fifth Avenue, Rockefeller Center to peep the Christmas tree, and finally Macy’s. You might need to pry your child’s face from the windows as they try to catch every magic detail.
Speaking of shopping: What are kids really thankful for on Thanksgiving? Maybe it’s the fact that it signals that present season is upon them. Take the kiddos for an early holiday treat at the iconic FAO Schwarz now in Rockefeller Center. This new location opened last year, but still has all of the magic – and the piano you can play with your feet – of the original location.