The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Survival Guide

by Mel

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Tips and tricks to make the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade enjoyable including where to go, what to take, and the best places to watch! 


The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Survival Guide

Is a trip to New York City in your plans this Thanksgiving? Besides eating at the best cheap restaurants and playing tourist at these must-see sites, be sure to schedule in the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.  And if you’re really lucky, you’ll get to see New York City all decked out for Christmas.

It’s your lucky day because today you get to hear from a New York City dweller herself who has attended the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade for the last 12 years. 

These are her best tips and tricks for making the parade an enjoyable event. 


General Information 

  • Date: Thursday, November 26th, 2019 (always Thanksgiving Day)
  • Starting time: 9 am
  • The parade starts at 81st Street and gets much more crowded as it gets closer to the ending point at Macy’s in Herald Square. See the detailed parade route here. 

1. Plan ahead.

The parade starts at 9am, but doesn’t finish until nearly 11am.  By the time you get out of the crowds and back to your apartment or hotel, it will be close to noon. 

Plan ahead so you are not stressed with your Thanksgiving feast preparations.

You can make pies (the best pies recipes here) and rolls the night before, simplify your side dishes, or plan to eat the big feast later so you have plenty of time to prepare. 

2. Go early.

You know what they say, the early bird gets the worm. Or in this case, the best seats! 

Plan to go around 5 am. By going this early, you’ll avoid the huge crowds and won’t lose half your group. Trust me, it can be miserable if you wait. 

You’ll score front-row seats, making the parade so much more enjoyable to watch. 

Tip: Send a few members of your group to go early to save seats for you if you can’t get everyone at the door that early! 


3. Bundle up!

Coats, gloves, hats…you’ll want ’em all! The weather has usually started to get chilly by this time of the year. You don’t want to be freezing the whole morning long.

4. Take camp chairs & blankets.

Since you’ll be going early to get the best seats, be sure to bring along chairs and blankets. You’ll definitely want a place to sit while you wait. Take lightweight camping chairs such as these you can get on Amazon to avoidcarrying heavy, bulky chairs.

5. Pack yourself breakfast.

Now, you may not be hungry for anything at 5am, but the parade doesn’t get over until around 11am, so we usually bring breakfast pastries or muffins, fruit, and other snacks along with hot cocoa. Just don’t drink too much because you will not be able to leave to find a bathroom until the parade is over!


6. Don’t forget your camera.

The giant balloons, soaring through the sky next to the tall buildings along Central Park West are an absolutely amazing sight. You will want to be able to capture the moment!

7. The Pre-Parade Party.

If you feel like the parade might be a bit too much for you, you can attend the “blowing-up-of-the-balloons-party” the night before. All the balloons are spread out around the block at the Museum of Natural History. Beginning around 5pm, they blow up the balloons so you can walk around and see them up close. Great for kids who may not be able to sit through the entire parade. Just be warned that this also gets crowded the later you go.

And for those of you far from this bustling city, cozy up in your pj’s and slippers and flip on the TV to watch the parade from the comfort of your warm home. It’s not quite as magical as being there in person, but it is still fun & look for me–I’ll be waving!

Happy Thanksgiving from the City!

Other NYC Travel Tips

*This post was written by Emily Poll, who lives in the Upper West City of Manhattan. 

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1 comment

Shannon Perkins February 2, 2014 - 3:48 am

Thank you so much for all of your Parade information!! I do have a question, that only a veteran will be able to answer. Where is the best place to see the parade? Meaning, do the dancing groups and marching bands and other entertainment only perform at certain locations like we usually see on television, or do they perform throughout? My family of 8 will be staying at the Mariott on 40th street. Do you have any suggestions as far as where to go from there??


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