When the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade curtain drops, it marks the start of a magical holiday season in New York City. As Santa Claus waves farewell on his last float, the city turns into an amusement park for families eager to enjoy the festive cheer.
Here’s a roundup of family-friendly activities to ensure your Thanksgiving weekend is packed with fun and ushers in the holiday season with memories that will last for many years to come.
Holiday Window Displays:
The renowned stretch of Fifth Avenue is filled with captivating holiday window displays that whisk viewers away to a magical realm. Every year, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, and Macy’s outdo themselves with their creative themes and engaging designs that tell stories.
- Tip: To avoid the crowds and enjoy a leisurely view, consider taking a stroll early in the morning or later in the evening when the hustle and bustle have simmered down.
The iconic ice skating rinks at Rockefeller Center and Central Park’s Wollman Rink offer a quintessential NYC holiday experience. The crisp air, twinkling lights, and the festive atmosphere make for a magical ice skating experience.
- Tip: Booking your skating slot in advance online can save waiting time, and don’t forget to pack a pair of gloves and a hat to keep warm on the ice!
Central Park Zoo:
The zoo in Central Park, surrounded by its green and growing landscapes, is a memorable attraction featuring many animals and displays. Children especially love the tropical rainforest display and the penguin house. The zoo also has a special Children’s Zoo, designed to give kids an up close and personal experience with many animals.
- Tip: Plan your visit around the daily sea lion and penguin feeding times, which can be a fun and educational experience for kids.
The Rockettes’ Christmas Spectacular:
A time-honored tradition, the Christmas Spectacular starring The Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall is a feast for the senses with its high-energy performances, beautiful costumes, and festive music. The show features signature numbers such as the 12 Days of Christmas, a Living Nativity, and the beloved parade of wooden soldiers.
- Tip: Book your tickets in advance and aim for a matinee performance which might be easier for younger children to enjoy.
The city hosts several holiday markets like the Union Square Holiday Market and Columbus Circle Holiday Market, where you can find special gifts, handcrafted items, and delicious foods among a joyous atmosphere. It’s the perfect spot to find one-of-a-kind items, like jewelry pieces or unique holiday décor that you won’t find anywhere else.
- Tip: Weekday mornings tend to be less crowded, making it a more enjoyable shopping experience for families.
Broadway is renowned for its excellent live theater, and many of its shows have matinees on the weekend, making it an ideal daytime activity for families. Matinee shows on Broadway offer an amazing experience at a discounted price, making it an excellent option for those looking to treat their family without breaking the bank.
- Tip: Look for family-friendly shows and consider booking seats near the aisle for easier access especially with young kids
The city is full of cultural attractions, such as the American Museum of Natural History and the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, which offer interactive displays that keep children entertained and educated. Visitors of all ages can explore the city’s many art galleries, theaters, and public parks that showcase a variety of performances and activities.
- Tip: Many museums have designated stroller entrances and baby-changing facilities, check their websites for family-friendly amenities to make your visit smoother.
Each of these activities captures the enchanting essence of New York City during the holiday season, ensuring your family’s Thanksgiving weekend is filled with memorable adventures. You won’t want to miss the iconic Rockefeller Christmas tree, the dazzling department store windows, or a chance to ice skate in Central Park – all of which truly capture the spirit of Thanksgiving in NYC.
So bundle up, step out, and let the city’s holiday magic sweep you off your feet!