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Take Your Kids to New York City for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Updated on October 22, 2009

Parades a great fun for kids, and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is the greatest of all. Navigating hoards of people in New York City might not be your idea of fun, but the experience you will give your kids will be worth the effort. Here are some tips for making your trip to Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade as memorable (and painless!) as possible.

Learn the route ahead of time.
The parade starts at 77th Street and moves South, touring Central Park West, Columbus Circle, 7th Avenue, and Herald Square before ending at 34th Street and 7th Avenue. Scout this route and local transportation options to make sure that you can travel safely to and from the parade route. Select a hotel close to public transportation for the most convenience.

Arrive early (Really early!).
People start lining up for their spot along the parade route before dawn. It is usually very cold, so make sure you bring plenty of coats, hats, and gloves to stay warm. You can take shifts holding your place along the parade route or brave the cold all together. The parade starts at 9:00am!

The stretch of parade route between 66th and 77th along Central Park West is one of the most popular viewing spots. Since it’s at the beginning of the parade route, the performers, balloon handlers, marching bands, and other participants are the most energetic. With Central Park nearby, you and your family can enjoy the fall scenery after the parade has passed you. A playground nearby will provide entertainment for your small children.

Make plans for your kids to see the parade.
If you’re traveling with small children and do not get a place right alongside the street, your children might not be able to see. If you can, consider carrying your children on your shoulders so they can get the best view. Once the parade starts, people may be willing to let your kids in front of them. Just be sure that you can see them throughout the parade.


Don’t move!
If you leave your spot along the parade route, you will lose it. With so many people crowding to see the parade, you have to leave at least one member of your family to guard your spot.


Don’t view the parade toward its end. The crowds are largest at the end of the parade, so it’s not a great place to see it. Especially if you are traveling with children, keeping them close to you in as sparsely crowded an area as possible is best.



Image Credit: marklyon, Flickr



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  • dohn121 profile image

    dohn121 8 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

    You outlined some great tips, Lela. When I was a kid, and for a stretch of about 6 years, we not once missed the Thanksgiving Parade. Every year it was different and more extravagant than the last. Thanks for the great memories!

  • jim10 profile image

    jim10 8 years ago from ma

    My wife and I have been wanting to go for a while. Our youngest is 16 months so we will probably try in about 2 or 3 years. Right now he can't stand still for a minute. We live in MA so it is about 4 hours away. But, we would sytill probably try to get a hotel room if possible. Have you made it to the parade?