This year, why not find out for yourself and experience Thanksgiving in the Big Apple? The holidays are magical in New York: The department store windows are decorated, the tree is up at Rockefeller Center , and the Rockettes are kicking it, Christmas style, at Radio City Music Hall . And don’t forget the biggest excitement of all – the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
You won’t run out of things to do in the city that never sleeps, but you may lack the time to do it all. Spending the busiest travel weekend of the year in the world’s busiest city is not for the faint of heart and requires some preparation. But it’s well worth it - and if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.
AccommodationsGood luck, however, finding a centrally located hotel room in Manhattan - unless you’re willing to pay an arm and a leg. You’re not the only one who wants to kick off the holiday season in NYC, so plan ahead. Follow the example of savvy travelers and stay in a Brooklyn apartment rental that offers more bang for your buck – privacy, kitchen and laundry facilities, and room to relax after hitting the streets.
Choose a rental close to a convenient subway station– a slick condo near Times Square or a chic Chelsea vacation rental and experience the fast pace of the Big City through the eyes of the people who live there.
Renting a vacation home with a fully equipped kitchen comes in handy when cooking a Thanksgiving feast. Take advantage of the opportunity to explore the specialty grocery stores only in New York, like Zabar’s or Gristede’s . You’ll find everything you need, from organic to ethnic to traditional Thanksgiving Day staples (call ahead for these). Be warned – prices are higher than you’ll find at your town’s corporate chain store, but when you taste the final creation, you’ll agree your pretty penny was stretched quite far – and so was your stomach.Or change it up. You’ve traveled to the most diverse city in the United States, so why not celebrate with another culture – who knows? You may end up beginning a new tradition. Take the 6 train to Canal Street and enjoy an authentic Asian meal in Chinatown . Or walk down Mulberry to Little Italy where homemade pasta (yes, it actually exists) and good wine will make you feel satisfied and sleepier than a plateful of tryptophan.
FestivitiesWhere else can you see Clifford, Woodstock, Scooby Doo, Pokemon, and Santa – all in the same place? Here’s a clue: It begins at the crack of dawn Thanksgiving Day, snakes its way down Broadway and then stops in front of Macy’s flagship store on 34th .
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade , of course.
When in New York, do as New Yorkers do and secure a good spot to watch the spectacular street-fest. You’ll have to get out there at 6 (that’s AM for you night owls) in order to get a good view. Be sure to pack a thermos of coffee or cocoa – you’ll lose your spot in a New York minute if you wander off for a cup of hot joe – and have to compete with thousands of others with the same idea.
*Little known fact: It’s free to watch the balloon and float inflation the night before the big parade. It happens at the American Museum of Natural History and is like a little festival in itself.
ShowsWhile most Broadway theatres are closed on Thanksgiving Day, you’ll want to catch a show while you’re in town. Get tickets for a Friday night or a Saturday matinee – there is a booth in Times Square that sells same-day tickets for cheap. (Expect a line, like everywhere else in the city, and use the time to people-watch).
If you’re really on the ball, order tickets online or reserve seats to the Rockette’s Christmas Spectacular , a New Yorker’s holiday mainstay. They have shows running several times a day so you have a better chance of getting a ticket to Radio City than to one of Broadway’s trendier shows.
ShoppingIf you don’t know where to go to, why don’t you go where fashion sits? The high end stores on Madison and 5th Avenues (Tiffany’s, Saks, Bergdorf Goodman) put on the ritz each season with a Christmas flair. See Bloomingdale’s famous window displays or get an early start on shopping – if that’s the way you roll. Don’t expect huge Black Friday savings uptown, however. You’ll have to walk a ways to find the better bargains in town.
And there are many deals to be found. After all it’s New York, and there’s something for everyone, from street vendors hocking comparable knock-offs (Merry Christmas, Mom, It’s a Prada, I swear) - to hip East Village thrift shops, to local boutiques, you can find just about anything for any price.
And that’s just the beginning.
So go ahead. Let your little town blues melt away and make a brand new start for the upcoming year by celebrating Thanksgiving in New York. You’ll be thankful you did.