Spend Thanksgiving in New York

I would argue that New York City is magical no matter what time of the year you visit, but there is truly something spectacular about the city during the last two months of the year. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times to visit for all the activities the city offers.

An overhead view of Central Park in New York City during the fall

Where to Eat
If a traditional Thanksgiving meal is as important to you as it is to me (i.e.. very important), have no fear. There are plenty of spots in the city to enjoy an all-American Thanksgiving lunch or dinner. Just be sure to make a reservation ahead of time. Bubby’s offers a family-style meal finished off with a selection of pies they are known for. The Smith and Quality Meats are also great options, or if you’re looking for something a little different, try Miss Lily’s for a Thanksgiving feast with a Caribbean flair.

Fall colors in Central Park in New York City

Whatever you do, make sure to visit Central Park to experience the jaw-dropping beauty of the fall foliage. Stroll through the park to spend an afternoon exploring The Met, or head to Rockefeller Center and take in the view of the park’s colors from above at Top of the Rock.

A view of the Manhattan skyline from Westlight in Brooklyn

For a magical panoramic view of the Manhattan skyline, cross the East River and head to Westlight, a rooftop bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Get there just before sunset to sip a cocktail and watch the sky’s colors envelop the city.

The inside of the Oculus in New York City

Escape the chilly weather by exploring the Oculus downtown followed by a visit to the 9/11 Memorial Museum. For art lovers, check out The Whitney Museum of American Art in the Meatpacking district.

Floats and parade-goers along the route of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City

The Parade
Watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is on the top of the list of things to do for many people visiting New York around Thanksgiving. If you’re one of those people, prepare to wake up early and claim your spot by 6 AM. Head north of Herald Square to the Upper West Side for less of a crowd.

You can also see the giant balloons being inflated in the afternoon and evening before Thanksgiving at the American Museum of Natural History in the Upper West Side. Visit later in the evening around 6 or 7 PM to see more of the balloons close to full inflation than you would at an earlier time. Keep in mind that the crowd will likely be larger as it gets later. Also, take the subway instead of a taxi, since many of the surrounding streets are closed off to traffic.

A street view of Macy's in New York City at night

Black Friday Shopping
It’s no secret that NYC is a paradise for shoppers, and Black Friday in the city is truly an experience. Macy’s opens its doors for Black Friday shopping in the evening on Thanksgiving, while others including Barneys, Bloomingdale’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Century 21, and Saks Fifth Avenue, open early on Friday morning.

Get in the Holiday Spirit
While the city hasn’t been fully decked out in Christmas decorations yet, there are plenty of holiday activities to partake in. Visit the Bryant Park Winter Village, see the famed Radio City Christmas Spectacular, or visit the Union Square Holiday Market, which has a European vibe.

The exterior of the New York Hilton Midtown

Where to Stay
The New York Hilton Midtown is centrally-located, making it an ideal choice if you’d like to be within walking distance to Times Square, Fifth Avenue, and more. For a different perspective of the city, opt for the Millennium Hilton New York Downtown or the Hilton New York Fashion District.

If you’re not already captivated by NYC, the energy in the city at this time of year will certainly change that. Grab your family, friends, or fly solo and start planning – this trip will be one for the books.

Know Before You Go

  • Opt for walking tours instead of bus tours if you want to eliminate the issue of traffic – just make sure to pack comfortable shoes!
  • If you bring your own ice skates, Bryant Park allows you to ice skate for free in the winter.
  • The Bronx Zoo is pay-what-you-wish on Wednesdays.
  • Utilize the New York Subway to travel like a local – it’s also a great way to avoid traffic!
A blonde woman wearing black

This post was written by Hilton Suggests Team Member, Hunter W. Are you interested in traveling to New York City? Let us know if we can help you with any other recommendations. Tweet us for more great local travel tips!

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