After living in NYC for 20 years I FINALLY saw the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in person! I was lucky to receive an invite from some friends to view it from their 29th floor apartment, an offer I couldn’t refuse.
The views were fantastic, we were warm, had bathrooms and food for the kids….If this is the kind of parade experience you want, there are several hotels along the route if you’re willing to splurge on a room (and book well in advance):
Hotels with views of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade:
- Trump International Tower at Broadway and Columbus Circle has rooms with views plus a guest-only VIP viewing area on the street in front of the hotel.
- Mandarin Oriental New York offers access to watch the Parade in their Mandarin Ballroom (ask about access when you make your reservation, there are several different packages).
- The New York Hilton Midtown also offers both partial views to full view rooms.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade route 2016:
The Parade route changes, so be sure to verify the current Parade route.
The 2016 Parade began at 77th Street and Central Park West at 9am. The Parade marched south on Central Park West toward Columbus Circle then turned East onto Central Park South. At Sixth Avenue, it turned south at Central Park South and marched further south from 59th Street to 34th Street. From Sixth Avenue it headed west on 34th Street to Macy’s Herald Square and ends there at around 12pm.
The Parade technically begins at 9am but since 3.5 million parade-goers attend, everyone gets there REALLY early. Many even claim their spot along the route by 6am. If you’re going to be in this spot for so long be sure to pack a bag with food and a thermos of coffee or hot chocolate plus some games or books to keep your kids from getting too bored.
As we made our way through the crowds and over to our friend’s apartment we passed by Lord & Taylor’s windows and loved the energy and excitement of the streets.
Tips for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade:
- Unfortunately there are no handicapped areas, or seats sold.
- Dress in layers as the temperatures in November fluctuate greatly in NYC.
- The bleachers and seats you may have seen are designated for Macy’s employees and are never sold or open to the general public.
- Many NYers say Columbus Circle is the best place to watch the parade.
- The farther you are from Herald Square, the lighter the crowds tend to be.
- It’s hard to push a stroller though the crowds.
- Meet up with friends offsite then head there together as it’s near impossible to meet up once you’re in the crowds.
- It’s very difficult to cross the street and this is only allowed in specific sections.
- In order for us to access the street with our friend’s apartment, our friends had to text a photo of their ID to us to show the cops to gain entry onto the street. Security is very tight.
- Download the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade app for route maps, subway maps, where to find wifi, and more.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade Balloon Inflation the night before:
The Macy’s balloon inflation is a great alternative to attending the actual parade. Although you’re still not beating the crowds, as this is a very popular event, people head to the American Museum of Natural History to watch Elf on the Shelf, Charlie Brown, Felix the Cat and Paddington blown up before your eyes. Best viewing areas are 77th and 81st streets between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue from 3 – 10pm the night before the Parade.