thanksgiving in nyc

22 Fun Ways To Celebrate Thanksgiving In NYC

Jessica FestaDiscover NYC, Explore Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens Leave a Comment

Table of Contents

By Charlotte Dow & Jessie Festa. This post originally appeared on Jessie on a Journey and contains affiliate links to trusted partners!

Thinking of taking a Thanksgiving trip to New York City?

You’ve probably seen NYC during the holiday season depicted in countless movies and TV shows like Miracle on 34th Street, Friends, and the 1993 animated classic We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story.

During this time the city really comes alive, making it a great setting for a holiday story, and an even better place to visit for a festive getaway.

And the kickoff for the season?

Thanksgiving, which means this long weekend is the perfect time to see the city at its most magical.

Whether you’re booking a New York Thanksgiving trip just for fun or have a few hours to kill after visiting family in the area, here are 22 things to do to make the most of your stay.

Visiting before Turkey Day?

Many of these experiences make great additions to any trip to NYC in November!

Quick tip: Make the most of your Thanksgiving trip in NYC with a festive tour — like an NYC Holiday Windows Tour or a Private Photo Tour (choose the Midtown route for festive fun!).

Free Thanksgiving In NYC Travel Guide

By the way: if you’re planning a New York City vacation make sure to download my FREE Unique NYC Picks PDF guide.

It was created by native New Yorker and licensed tour guide Jessie Festa of Jessie on a Journey — as in, me — and showcases some of my favorite local experiences that take you beyond the guidebook. 

Planning A Thanksgiving Trip To New York City (All Boroughs)

nyc photo journey

1. Book a tour that’s also a photoshoot

NYC Photo Journeys — the sister company of Jessie on a Journey — offers a number of photo experiences for locals and visitors to New York City.

A private NYC Photo Journey is the signature offering, including a custom tour led by a licensed sightseeing guide who will also take your photo along the way. 

You can opt to see festive sites like holiday trees and lights, stick with classic spots like Times Square and Central Park, and/or explore through a passion like street art or architecture. 

It’s like seeing the city with a local friend who is also a professional photographer. 

Prefer a New York photoshoot without the tour aspect?

Click here to book an NYC Influencer Shoot

Along with taking professional pictures of you, Jessie is happy to talk shop and share advice on how to authentically grow your Instagram. 

All prices include unlimited photos to keep, which means you can also get your holiday cards done, too! 

Thanksgiving In Manhattan

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, New York, NY
There’s nothing quite like the fanfare of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade! Photo courtesy of Macy’s.

2. Take part in a true Thanksgiving tradition and check out the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

What is New York famous for? It’s holiday events!

While there are many incredible Thanksgiving getaways from NYC, there are also myriad experiences to be had right in the city.

Like this one: 

Watch the iconic balloons, floats, and marching bands as they make their way down Central Park West and Sixth Avenue before ending up at Macy’s Herald Square. You’ll see this on many NYC itineraries, and for good reason, as it’s one of the top things to do in Manhattan around the holiday.

Want to watch the parade like a true VIP?

Book a ticket for the Thanksgiving Day Parade Party at Stella 34 Trattoria (inside Macy’s Herald Square) for prime views of the parade, a full brunch buffet, and more fun, climate-controlled extras.

3. See the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons before they take flight

Looking for unique fun things to do in NYC?

Head to Central Park outside the Museum of Natural History the night before the parade for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Balloon Inflation, one of the most fun things to do on the Upper West Side.

This is a great way to get a sneak peek at the balloons before the big day or take part in the festivities while avoiding the parade day crowds.

going on a tour of FAO Schwarz during November in NYC
You’ll be guided by a toy solider on an exclusive FAO Schwarz tour!

4. Get into the Christmas spirit on a VIP FAO Schwarz tour

No NYC holiday season would be complete without a visit to the iconic FAO Schwarz toy store — especially on a VIP FAO Schwarz tour offered exclusively through Viator.

Visit the store before it opens as your guide — a living toy solider — shares interesting history, magic tricks, and entertaining jokes.

It’s a great way to get in touch with your inner child, especially when dancing on the giant piano.

Not only will you take home memories, but you’ll also get a few special gifts including a build-your-own bag of candy and a plush teddy bear.

5. Feel festive at one of the most iconic shows in town

The Radio City Christmas Spectacular, starring the world-famous Rockettes, has three shows on Thanksgiving Day, giving you plenty of opportunities to take part in this holiday tradition.

To make the experience even more special, book a Radio City Christmas Spectacular and Holiday Window Tour.

This includes seeing the famous Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, as well as some of the best holiday window displays nearby. 

6. Check out the Broadway shows open on Thanksgiving Day

High kicks and holiday spirit not really your style?

There are a number of Broadway shows that you can see on Thanksgiving. 

Take in a long-running classic like Chicago or check out a new favorite like Six the Musical.

Just be sure to get your feast in early, as all Thanksgiving shows are scheduled for the evening.

Pro tip: Save your Broadway playbill for a unique (and free!) NYC souvenir.

Rink at Rockefeller Center, New York, NY
Skate through the real center of Rockefeller Center at their infamous ice rink. Photo via Julienne Schaer.

7. Twirl, glide, and maybe fall down a few times at one of Manhattan’s many outdoor skating rinks

One of the best parts of visiting NYC in fall or winter is the ice skating rinks open up. 

The most iconic of the bunch is The Rink at Rockefeller Center with its instantly-recognizable golden angel statue and classic midtown location.

Be sure to book your tickets for Rockefeller Center online ahead of time, as skate sessions sell out quickly.

Also worth checking out are the rink at the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park and the Wollman Rink in Central Park.

8. Visit one of the many museums open on Thanksgiving Day in NYC

Not sure which one to choose? A few ideas:

Honor the Indigenous cultures of the Americas at the National Museum of the American Indian (free admission), or the indomitable spirit of the city and nation at the 9/11 Museum and Memorial, both located in Manhattan’s Financial District.

Visiting with kids?

Check out Gulliver’s Gate, an immersive world of 3D-printed miniatures on Staten Island.

Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park, New York, NY
Get into the holiday spirit and check some items of your shopping list at the Bank of America Winter Village in Bryant Park. Photo via Brittany Petronella / NYC & Company

9. Get your holiday shopping done early

You’ll easily be able to pick up some unique gifts for your friends and family, whether visiting NYC in winter or near the fall holiday. 

There are several outdoor holiday markets worth visiting in NYC, but the holiday shops at the Bank of American Winter Village in Bryant Park feature some of the best artisanal gifts and treats in town. 

From handmade soaps to one-of-a-kind necklaces to delicious drinking chocolate, you’re bound to find something for everyone on your list.


Even before it officially begins, you’ll be able to get stunning NYC winter photography here!

Need help capturing the best views in New York City — with you in the photos? Book a private NYC Photo Journey, a walking tour that includes photos of your group to keep. Or step your game up even further with an NYC Influencer Shoot. Email [email protected] with inquiries.

10. Properly pre-game for the big feast with a pub crawl through the Village on Thanksgiving Eve

Grab a ticket to Pub Crawl New York’s Thanksgiving Eve Pub Crawl and drink with your fellow travelers at some of the most iconic bars in the West and East Village.

The $20 ticket gets you free drinks and drink specials at each bar — a pretty solid deal for a city known for its $15 cocktails.

Bonus: You’ll also get a new group of like-minded friends and party pals.

Prefer a more luxurious experience? Consider one of the many opulent limousine tours of New York City, many with Champagne included!

Maru Karaoke, New York City, NY
Sing your heart out this Thanksgiving at Maru Karaoke in Koreatown. Photo courtesy of Maru Karaoke.

11. Sing off the turkey and stuffing at one of Koreatown’s famous karaoke bars

Looking for non-touristy things to do in Manhattan or to explore New York after midnight?

Located in the heart of K-Town, Maru Karaoke has plenty of private karaoke rooms available for you and your group to channel your inner pop stars — and premium drinks to give you the courage to do so.

And yes, it is entirely appropriate to start singing Christmas songs after Thanksgiving dinner.

12. Ditch the dishes and have your Thanksgiving Feast at one of Manhattan’s amazing restaurants

French eatery Le Coq Rico serves a three-course holiday menu featuring Thanksgiving staples like turkey and stuffing as well as French favorites like Parisian gnocchi.

Another option:

Freemans on the Lower East Side, which brings strong autumnal vibes and an extensive cocktail menu to the table.

You can also head to Fine & Rare in Flatiron for Thanksgiving dinner with a side of jazz. Just be sure to book your table early!

Looking for something atypical?

Check out these quirky NYC restaurants as well as these Instagrammable restaurants in New York City!

The Library Hotel, New York, NY
Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy a good book at the Library Hotel. Photo courtesy of Library Hotel.

13. Wondering where to stay in NYC for Thanksgiving?

The many hotels of Midtown Manhattan have you covered.

For a serene stay along the parade route (yes, it’s possible!) check out 1 Hotel Central Park, a chic boutique hotel with several options for your parade viewing party.

A staple of the Midtown hotel scene, the New York Hilton Midtown‘s location along the parade route and just steps from Times Square couldn’t be more convenient.

Looking for something a little quieter, but still close to the action?

The Library Hotel has you covered with cozy accommodations and plenty of books available to borrow.

Thanksgiving In Brooklyn

14. Get a run (or walk) in before the big meal

Sign up for the Prospect Park Track Club’s Turkey Trot, one of the top things to do in Brooklyn for the holiday.

This annual five-mile run around Prospect Park takes place on Thanksgiving morning, with money raised going to benefit CHiPS, a local soup kitchen. 

Top runners win a holiday pie for placing in the top three, but all finishers receive a medal and winter hat for participating.


Bagels, fruit and hot cocoa will be waiting at the finish line!

Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn, NY
Check an awards-season hopeful at Brooklyn Academy of Music in Fort Greene. Photo via Ajay Suresh.

15. See a movie at one of New York City’s most famous arts hubs

Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Rose Cinemas offers a great selection of new and classic films year-round.

November is one of the best times to visit, and you’ll be sure to catch an awards-hopeful or two playing on Thanksgiving.

16. Take in art from around the world as well as one of Brooklyn’s most iconic buildings

The Brooklyn Museum features works from ancient to contemporary artists, as well as the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, the first public collection of its kind in the United States.

Though the museum is not open on Thanksgiving Day, it makes for a great pre- or post-Thanksgiving activity for the whole family. It’s also one of the top things to do in NYC on a rainy day.

Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY
Take a tour through the history of Brooklyn at Green-Wood Cemetery. Photo via Paul Lowry.

17. Not quite ready to let go of spooky season — or just a big fan of trees?

Head to Park Slope for a Post Turkey Day Tour of Green-Wood Cemetery.

Learn more about the cemetery’s long history and take in the trees and wildlife that make up this important urban greenspace.

Be sure to bundle up, as the city can be chilly in late autumn.

Need help capturing the best views in NYC — with you in the photos? Book a private NYC Photo Journey, a walking tour that includes photos of your group to keep. Or step your game up even further with an NYC Influencer Shoot. Email [email protected] with inquiries.

18. Head to one of the many restaurants in Brooklyn open on Thanksgiving

Looking to stay in Brooklyn for dinner?

Blue Ribbon Brooklyn brings some southern charm to your feast at their Park Slope location.

If you’re more into pasta than turkey, enjoy the authentic Italian feast available at Williamsburg’s Antica Pesa.

Or, for a more traditional feast in an incredible location, head to Atrium in DUMBO.

19. Sleep off your dinner at one of the many cool and conveniently-located hotels in Brooklyn

Enjoy the airy loft spaces at Greenpoint’s Henry Norman Hotel, a former warehouse that’s now home to one of the coolest places to stay in the borough.

Stay close to the action at the stylish Tillary Hotel, located just a few blocks from the DUMBO waterfront and Brooklyn Bridge.

Prefer a cozier space?

Check out the “functional yet fashionable” Pod Brooklyn Hotel in Williamsburg.

Thanksgiving In Queens

20. Walk off Thanksgiving Dinner and enjoy some of the best views in Queens

Scratch that — some of the best views in NYC

Astoria Park’s 60 acres of green space make it the perfect place for a post-feast stroll.

The park’s waterfront walking paths give you access to an incredible view of the Manhattan skyline, perfect for family photos.

The park is also one of the top attractions in Queens!

Museum of the Moving Image, New York, NY
Astoria’s Museum of the Moving Image is heaven for film buffs. Photo courtesy of Museum of the Moving Image.

21. Explore the history of film and hang with the Muppets

Astoria’s Museum of the Moving Image is a must-see for movie buffs and their permanent Jim Henson Exhibition should not be missed.

Though the museum is closed on Thanksgiving Day, their exhibits and screenings make excellent additions to any NYC itinerary.

22. Change up your Turkey Day tradition with Thanksgiving dinner in Queens

Head to Marbella Restaurant in Bayside for a Spanish feast complete with tapas and paella.

Prefer Italian?

Opt for the pre-fixe Thanksgiving feast at Gastroteca Astoria.

Need help capturing the best views in NYC — with you in the photos? Book a private NYC Photo Journey, a walking tour that includes photos of your group to keep. Or step your game up even further with an NYC Influencer Shoot. Email [email protected] with inquiries.

Hotels In New York City

Looking to stay overnight in NYC?

There are so many incredible hotels, like NoMo SoHo, the Crosby Street Hotel, and The Ludlow.

Click here for a full list of New York City hotels!

Prefer self-contained stays? 

Click here to check out unique local rentals! 

You can also use this map to search for local stays:

What would you recommend for a Thanksgiving trip to New York City?

Enjoyed this post on visiting NYC in November? Pin it for later!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.