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Thanksgiving day parade tips

5 Tips for Viewing the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Last updated on January 30th, 2017 at 08:02 pm

On Thursday, November 24, 2016 at 9 a.m. the 90th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will begin.   The 3 hour parade has been an annual tradition and each year it gets bigger and better.  It’s total holiday madness but also incredible family fun and a NYC holiday bucket list must.  Over 3.5 million people line the parade route in New York City.  Visiting New York City to see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a once in a lifetime experience.  Where else can you expect to see clowns, floats, giant balloons and Santa Claus all at once? You’ll see everything from Sesame Street characters to cheerleaders to Santa’s sleigh!

Our tips and advice will give you a hand on finding a good spot and staying comfortable while you watch the parade.




Get up very early

The Parade begins at 9 a.m.  Plan to arrive to claim your spot along the parade route by 6 a.m. and don’t plan on moving from that spot.  Approximately 3.5 million parade-goers take to the streets wanting the perfect view.  Pack a bag with snacks, a thermos of hot chocolate, and games or books to keep your kids entertained while waiting for the parade to begin.

Bring folding stools or chairs to make the wait a bit more comfortable.  There are not any designated seating areas, handicapped areas, or seats sold. The bleachers and seats you may have seen on the telecasts of the Parade are designated for Macy’s employees and are never sold or open to the general public.


Dress in layers 

From the time when you pick out your viewing spot until the end of the parade, you could be standing outside for five hours or more. Be sure to dress warmly and make sure kids have hats and mittens.  NYC wind can have quite the bite, so dress warmly in layers.



Pack essentials

Don’t forget your camera, snacks, perhaps an extra sweater, and a healthy dose of patience. It’ll be crowded, so prepare to roll with it.

It’s also a good idea to position yourself near a coffee shop or department store, where you can nip in for a bathroom break if needed. For younger kids, this can be crucial.






floatKnow the Parade route.

There is no secret, uncrowded place from which to watch.  There is 2.5 miles of parade route for public viewing. Many people agree that the best spot to watch the parade from is Columbus Circle.  For an unobstructed view, stake out your spot around 6am, perhaps earlier.  The best thing is to know the parade route.

The Parade route has changed in the last couple of years, so be sure to verify the current Parade route. The precise route of the 2016 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is as follows: The parade begins at 77th Street and Central Park West, then travels downtown to Central Park South, aka 59th Street. It then heads east to Sixth Avenue, continuing south to 34th Street/Herald Square. The Macy’s website has a detailed map of the route.   http://social.macys.com/parade/


Download the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade app for your iPhone for route maps, subway maps, where to find Wi-Fi, and more.

Find and book a reservation at NYC restaurant Thanksgiving Dinner

Once the Parade ends, 3.5 million people are pushing their way to subways and out of the areas closed off to traffic to try to hail taxis. Instead of joining the stampede, find a nearby restaurant that is open on Thanksgiving and make a reservation for a Thanksgiving Dinner. You can wait out the crowds while warming up over a hot meal.


If you can’t handle the cold and crowds, stay home and watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on NBC along with the 50 million other Americans who do so each year.  Or even better, check out our post Hotel Rooms with a View of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

What are your best tips for viewing the parade?



Traveling and sewing are my two passions. I like to combine them when I can. Come visit me at Sew Travel Inspired. I share easy sewing projects for travel related items and quick gifts as well as info on some of my favorite travel destinations. I also sprinkle in my favorite sewing and travel tips, tricks, and hacks.


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