How to Avoid the Macy's Day Parade in NYC This Thanksgiving


This year is the 90th year that Macy's has sponsored a Thanksgiving Parade in New York City, so expect Macy's to mark the milestone with a celebration that's bigger and splashier than ever. From the ginormous crowds that gather on the Upper West Side on Thanksgiving Eve to see the balloons come to life, to the walls of people lining Central Park West and 6th Avenue as the parade makes its way downtown Thanksgiving Day, to the hordes of eager spectators who jam themselves onto the sidewalks near Macy's Herald Square parade headquarters to watch dancers and singers perform for the TV cameras parked in front of the store, everything connected with the parade is full of crowds and chaos.

Some folks love this madness, of course. But for those who abhor the fun and frivolity that the parade represents, here's an essential guide for avoiding even the tiniest glimpse of huge balloons in the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade this year:

Don't Go to the Upper West Side on November 23rd
As I've mentioned, the Upper West Side, especially the streets surrounding the American Museum of Natural History, is crazily crowded the day before the Thanksgiving Parade, as workers blow up the balloons, set up the floats, and generally get things ready. Adding to the congestion are swarms of on-lookers who snake through roped-off areas, straining to guess what character will come alive before their eyes as the balloons are filled with air. So avoid this whole area at all costs. Don't plan a meal at the Tavern on the Green (you probably can't get reservations at this point anyway), don't schedule a trip to the NY Historical Society, and don't expect to do any shopping along Columbus Avenue. From 80th Street to Columbus Circle, the whole West Side is going to be a mess, so just stay away!

Don't Watch NY Local News Wednesday Night
The Upper West Side parade scene is always a popular story for the local NYC news programs the night before Thanksgiving. Even the weather forecasters like to post their predictions with the balloons in the background. So check the weather on your phone. And if you must flip on the TV, opt for a late night sitcom rerun instead of the news.

Stay Away from Much of Manhattan on Thanksgiving Day
When the big day arrives, there are few places on the island of Manhattan where you can completely avoid Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. While technically, the parade route extends only along Central Park West from 77th Street to Columbus Circle, then along Central Park South to 6th Avenue, then south to 34th Street, and finally west along 34th Street to 7th Avenue, there are many more areas of town that are affected by all of the hoopla. For example, major transportation hubs like Penn Station and Grand Central Station are usually mobbed as parade spectators come into town. But remember that New York is a big town. So if you want to avoid the parade, why not try a different, and likely quieter borough, like Staten Island?

Don't Turn on Your TV at all Thanksgiving Day
Parade coverage starts when the marchers step off at 9 AM Thanksgiving morning, so if you have any thoughts about tuning into NY1 to check the weather when you get up, think again. Sure, it is officially only NBC that will cover the parade in its entirety, but there is always a chance that other stations will feature a clip of festive floats and balloons. Think you'll be safe if you tune into some college football later in the day? Honestly, I wouldn't chance it if I were you: if the game action lags a bit, the cameras might just cut to a cute kid waving to Santa as the parade winds down.



Victoria Otto Franzese is a proud New Yorker who owned, operated, and wrote for a successful online travel guide for 15 years. Now, thankfully, all of her travel is purely for fun. See what she'll be cooking up for Thanksgiving at @VOFranzese.