5 Family Fun Ideas for Thanksgiving in NYC

The Thanksgiving holiday season is one that is associated with family and fun. For people who live in New York City or are visiting the area, finding fun things to do for the entire family might seem like a challenge. Fortunately, the Big Apple has a lot of activities that the youngest and oldest family member can enjoy.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Credit: Shutterstock

The fun starts the day before the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. You can watch the balloons being unfolded and blown up in the late afternoon and early evening on Thanksgiving Eve. This is a good activity for people who don’t want to have to get up early on the day of the parade. Younger children might enjoy watching the balloons blowing up.

The parade itself starts at Central Park West at 9:00 on Thanksgiving morning. If you plan on watching the parade, you need to get there early because the curbside viewing areas are filled on a first come, first served basis. You can’t use chairs or anything else to hold a spot so be prepared to sit or stand and wait for the parade. With a 2.5-mile route, there are plenty of places to watch the iconic event.

The Nutcracker

The New York City Ballet starts performing The Nutcracker on the day after Thanksgiving. The show includes the entire dance company, which consists of 62 musicians, 90 dancers, and more than 125 children hitting the stage as part of two alternating casts. Even younger children will be amazed by the intricate and colorful props that are used. The Christmas tree in the show weighs one ton and grows from 12 feet to 41 feet tall during the show.

Winter Village at Bryant Park

Dubbed the Winter Wonderland, Winter Village at Bryant Park is hosted by Bank of America. It is located in Manhattan and includes a free admission ice skating rink that takes over Bryant Park. There are holiday shops and eateries to enjoy when you aren’t on the rink. The Overlook is a seasonal attraction here that opens in October and remains open through the first few days of March. You can watch the skaters or enjoy free games and art activities in a climate-controlled area.

Winter Village

Credit: Lev Radin / Shutterstock

Christmas Spectacular Featuring the Radio City Rockettes

The Christmas Spectacular opens for the season in November. There are three shows on Thanksgiving Day each year, so you can choose one that works around dinnertime and other family activities. This is one event that requires some advanced planning since the shows do sell out often. With vibrant props and scenes, as well as a lot of activity on stage, this show is great for all members of the family.

New York City Turkey Trot

Turkey trot on Thanksgiving

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This year’s Turkey Trot will be held in Queens on Thanksgiving Day. The Kid’s Dash starts at 8:15 that morning with the 5k/5 Mile race starting 15 minutes later. While the kid’s dash is free, there is a fee for the adult races. You can pick up the race packets for your race the morning of the race, starting at 7:10. When you cross the finish line, you can enjoy one of the cinnamon rolls that the race has become famous for.

You can also spend time just exploring the city. Holiday display windows, including those at Bloomingdales and Macy’s are done before Thanksgiving Day. This gives you a chance to get into the holiday spirit at your own pace.

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