Thanksgiving is one of our favorite times of year in New York City. It’s the kickoff to a beautiful and amazing holiday season, and is a wonderful holiday in its own right.
It’s also the time of year when one of New York’s greatest public events takes place – the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
If you’re searching for some great seasonal activities and things to do in November to complement your parade-watching, check out a few of these suggestions for how to make the most of Thanksgiving in New York.
Save on attraction admission
Regular admission to a number of these New York attractions are available on the New York Explorer Pass®.
Choose as you go from dozens of top attractions and save up to 50% on combined admission vs paying at the gate.
Please note, some of these special November events may be separately ticketed and not included on the New York City Explorer Pass®.
Radio City Christmas Spectacular
Radio City Music Hall
It’s that time of year again – time for the one-of-a-kind Radio City Musical Hall’s Christmas Spectacular.
From high-kicking Rockettes to wooden soldiers to real live stable animals, there’s so much to marvel at in this truly wondrous event.
With new music and more advanced technology rolling out each year, it’s worth attending this show even if you’ve been before.
It’s an unforgettable experience that’s perfect for kids and adults. It’s certainly one of my fondest childhood memories!
The Christmas Spectacular is separately ticketed and is not included with the Explorer Pass. For more information about the show and to purchase tickets, visit the box office website.
Don’t have a chance to see the show? Take a tour of Radio City Music Hall just to see their beautiful holiday décor.
Getting In: Radio City Music Hall tour tickets are available with the New York City Explorer Pass®.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
From 77th Street to 34th Street
There’s probably no more iconic holiday event in New York City than the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Whether you’re getting up at the crack of dawn to stake out a good spot or flipping the T.V. on after breakfast, you’re likely making this parade a part of your Thanksgiving Day.
It’s 2.5 miles of excitement and fun, with new balloons, marching bands, and celebrities participating each year.
Look for all your favorite cartoon characters to make their debut as giant balloons, and enjoy the frequent musical performances that pop up throughout the parade route. It’s an event not to be missed!
For more information, check out our tips on how to view the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.
Getting In: Admission to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is free.
Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar
501 Union Street
Another great destination for all your unique holiday shopping needs is the Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar.
Browse through hundreds of squee-worthy gifts from local makers and select national crafters. You’ll find everything from paintings to handmade paper to handcrafted jewelry.
Enjoy festive music styling from a local DJ and even grab a bite to eat from participating vendors.
After you get your shopping on, why not take a tour of the neighborhood to sightsee and unwind?
Getting In: Admission to the Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar is free, and Brooklyn walking tour tickets are available with the New York City Explorer Pass®.
Holiday Train Show
New York Botanical Garden
This uniquely New York phenomenon is a sight to behold. Come to the New York Botanical Garden to find yourself immersed in a magical world where nature and technology meld together.
Watch trains wind through a wonderland of NYC landmarks and icons — all of which are constructed out of natural elements like bark, leaves, berries, and more.
Plus, there’s a half mile of train tracks throughout, so you’ll get to see plenty of the technological side, too.
This annual event is beloved by locals and is a must-see for families and adults alike! Access to this special exhibit is included with regular admission.
Getting In: New York Botanical Garden tickets are available with the New York City Explorer Pass.
The Nutcracker Ballet
This Thanksgiving weekend, don’t miss out on the opportunity to celebrate the holiday season with an iconic performance of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker.
It’s a tour de force of flawless ballet, gorgeous sets and costumes, and a timeless score. No wonder some people go every year!
If you don’t have the time or money to see The Nutcracker, it’s still worth taking a tour of Lincoln Center to see the lovely holiday decorations.
Getting In: Lincoln Center Tour tickets are available with the New York City Explorer Pass. Tickets to The Nutcracker are separately priced and are not included with the pass.
Bank of America Winter Village
If you’re searching for a unique, yet affordable place to pick up some holiday gifts in New York City this year, then the Winter Village in Chelsea’s Bryant Park should be on your list.
With more than 120 little shops, kiosks, food stands, and more, you’ll be able to find something for everyone on your list. This European-inspired market also provides an excellent souvenir-shopping opportunity if you’ve already checked everyone off your holiday shopping list.
Don’t forget about the ice-skating! Skating is totally free (although you need to bring your own skates), and Bryant Park’s massive outdoor rink is sight to behold. The ice-skating rink is also open until March!
Getting In: Admission to Winter Village is free.
Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting
If you happen to be in town for a few days after Thanksgiving Weekend, it’s worth it to pop back over to Rockefeller Center to see them illuminate that big iconic tree.
Typically a Norwegian Spruce, this tree will arrive in NYC in early November and will be strung with 30,000 LED lights and topped with a Swarovski crystal star. The lights only go on after this ceremony, however!
This year’s ceremony will take place on Wednesday, November 29, from 7 pm to 9 pm. It’s the 85th anniversary of this special holiday tradition and sure to inspire the holiday spirit in you.
Getting In: It’s free to watch the Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting.
Remember to save on attraction admission
However you decide to celebrate Thanksgiving in New York 2018, we’re sure you’ll find some delightful things to do in November or make your holiday special. From markets to festive parades and much more, we <3 NY!
Remember, many of these great options are available on the Explorer Pass, where you can save up to 50% on combined admission vs. paying at the gate.
Please note, the November and Thanksgiving events taking place at some of these attractions may be separately ticketed and not included with the New York City Explorer Pass®.
Consider adding a few of these fun options to your November weekend itineraries.