November is here, and in the USA that means Thanksgiving is just around the corner! The holiday is traditionally celebrated as a day of counting one’s blessings and feasting with family, but over the years the holiday has evolved. Thanksgiving (November 22) has become synonymous with the start of the holiday season, so you can expect to start seeing some Christmas decorations popping up over the weekend. And of course, the infamous Black Friday sales begin in the early morning hours after Thanksgiving. In true New York style, NYC has plenty of exciting activities in store to put a unique spin on the Thanksgiving holiday.
Before you can sit back and start planning your unforgettable New York City Thanksgiving, you’ll need to stock up on turkey and all the fixings for Thanksgiving dinner, the traditional centerpiece of the holiday. Fortunately, there are several ways to shop!
- Outdoor farmers markets like the Union Square Greenmarket and the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket will be open the day before Thanksgiving, selling fresh produce and locally-raised turkey for your table. GrowNYC has a handy guide to markets and their holiday hours.
- For the most atmospheric food shopping, visit the pop-up Thanksgiving market in Grand Central Station on Wednesday, November 22 from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm. The market will be selling desserts, pies and other baked goods from New York City bakeries, and there will be live music as well!
- New York Habitat has plenty of furnished apartments and vacation rentals that are convenient to major grocery chains like Trader Joes, Whole Foods and Gristedes for easy holiday shopping, from staples to specialty foods.
- Or, if you want to put your own cultural spin on Thanksgiving dinner, there are plenty of specialty grocery stores to be found throughout the city; read our guide to the city’s cuisines to find them!
Kick off the holiday with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
On the morning of Thanksgiving, the world’s largest parade will march down 6th Avenue in New York! The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade features floats, enormous character balloons, dancers, marching bands, and performances and appearances by famous bands, musicians, athletes and celebrities. In addition, selections from Broadway musicals are performed by their casts in Herald Square before the parade reaches Macy’s. The parade has become a huge holiday tradition in the U.S., so prepare for crowds and follow these viewing tips:
- The night before the parade (November 21), you can get an up-close view of all the balloons as they’re inflated outside the American Museum of Natural History. You can watch the inflations any time from 1:00 pm to 8:00 pm and the event is free and open to the public!
- The parade begins on the Upper West Side at 77th Street and Central Park West at 9:00 am and marches along the edge of Central Park to Columbus Circle. It then turns onto Central Park South and finally onto 6th Avenue, where it continues all the way down to the Macy’s flagship store in Herald Square.
- You can view the parade anywhere along this route, though organizers recommend lining up as early as 6:00 am for a good spot and avoiding areas along 34th through 38th Street, as space here is very limited.
- The parade is also broadcast on television. You can guarantee unobstructed views and comfortable temperatures by viewing it from a furnished apartment!
Enjoy American history at a free museum
If you prefer an alternative to the big parade, or need something to fill your time between the parade and dinner, consider visiting an authentically American museum on this historical holiday. A great destination for Thanksgiving is the National Museum of the American Indian in the Financial District. Here, you can learn about the culture and history of Native Americans, who created the original Thanksgiving holiday.
Another great option is to take a ferry from Lower Manhattan to Ellis Island. The island was the original receiving point for immigrants to the United States, and now hosts the National Museum of Immigration in its main hall. The museum is a great place to celebrate American history, the country’s diverse community of immigrants and the American Dream. If you have extra time after the museum, you can visit the Statue of Liberty—the island is only a short distance away! Admission to both the Ellis Island Museum of Immigration and the National Museum of the American Indian are free, but you will need to purchase a ferry ticket for access to Ellis Island and Liberty Island.
Burn off the extra calories at a Turkey Trot
If you want to avoid being a couch potato before you tuck into the mashed potatoes, consider running in a Turkey Trot 5k! Turkey Trot runs have become another Thanksgiving tradition across the country, and runners will often get into the holiday spirit with fun turkey and pilgrim costumes. If you want to participate on Thanksgiving itself, join the Prospect Park Turkey Trot. You can also run in the Coney Island Turkey Trot on Sunday, November 18 or the Roosevelt Island Turkey Trot on November 24. Pre-registration is required to participate in all turkey trots, but you’ll be rewarded with scenic views of the NYC waterfront or fall foliage. Why not do all three, and enjoy the excuse to eat an extra slice of pie?
Take advantage of NYC’s fabulous shopping on Black Friday!
In the early morning hours after the Thanksgiving meal is over, Black Friday—the biggest shopping day of the year—begins. Retailers slash their prices and offer massive discounts on certain items to tempt shoppers looking to get a head start on their holiday list. With so many places to shop in New York City, it’s easy to be a bit overwhelmed as you prepare for Black Friday, but here are some of the best areas to search for deals:
- Big department stores like Barney’s, Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdales are great places to look for clothing, especially designer clothing, at deeply discounted prices.
- Malls like Brookfield Place, The Shops at Columbus Circle, and the Westfield World Trade Center Mall are great for tech, toys and brand-name clothing like H&M, Victoria’s Secret and JCrew.
- Visit Soho along Broadway for stores like Madewell, Sephora and Zara.
- For top-of-the-line designer brands (and fabulous window shopping), browse along Madison Avenue on the Upper East Side or Fifth Avenue from 50th-59th Streets.
- Brooklyn and Queens are great for shopping for children’s clothing and home goods at stores like Target and Walmart.
Be sure to rest up leading up to Black Friday, wear comfortable shoes, and visit the websites of your favorite stores for opening hours and previews of deals!
Thanksgiving: The perfect holiday to rent a furnished apartment
Now that your bags are packed, your alarms are set for the big parade and Black Friday shopping, and you know where to buy the perfect Thanksgiving turkey, you’ll need a place to stay… and what better choice can you make than a furnished apartment? An apartment rental is the perfect choice for Thanksgiving, as you can enjoy access to a full kitchen stocked with everything you’ll need to whip up a delicious meal. Our New York Habitat apartments have kitchens outfitted with ovens, refrigerators, stovetops, toasters, mixers, microwaves and more—things you won’t find in the standard hotel room.
Many apartments also feature a separate dining room with a table and chairs to accommodate families of any size. Finally, the true charm of staying in a furnished apartment is the individuality of the unique décor and personalized living areas that can help you create the holiday setting of your dreams. With subway access right outside your door and a comfortable bed to sleep in, you’ll have it made for Thanksgiving. Here are just a few accommodations to inspire you:
- A 4-bedroom vacation rental in Harlem with 2 dining tables and a huge chef’s kitchen, close to the start of the Macy’s Parade route
- A 3-bedroom vacation rental in Park Slope, Brooklyn with a den, charming brick fireplace and ultra-modern appliances
- A cozy 1-bedroom furnished apartment with sleeping alcove in Williamsburg for those looking for something a little more nonconformist
- A laid-back 1-bedroom furnished apartment in Ridgewood, Queens for a low-key Thanksgiving dinner
If you have a specific request or aren’t sure where to start, contact us and our licensed agents can help you with your search for the perfect Thanksgiving accommodation.
Wishing you a safe and happy Thanksgiving and start to the holidays!