The iconic Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade isn’t just about Thanksgiving. From the extravagant floats to the humongous balloons to the intricate performances and beyond, the parade has something for everyone — no matter your age. For families who plan to attend the parade in person, there are important details to know before you go. Here’s your official guide to the 2018 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
2018 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Route
The parade begins promptly at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018, at the corner of 77th Street and Central Park West. It will travel south to Columbus Circle, where it will turn east onto Central Park South before turning onto 6th Avenue. After traveling down 6th from 59th Street to 34th Street, the parade will turn right and end at Macy’s in Herald Square. It takes approximately 90 minutes for the parade to travel the 2.5-mile stretch.
General Admission Seating
There is no fee to attend and view the parade, but all seating along the route is first-come, first-served. Grandstand seating is not open to the public, so spectators must bring their own chairs and blankets for their spots along the parade route. Many families camp out early in the morning (4 or 5 a.m.!) in order to get a good spot for the parade, so plan accordingly.
The best places to sit for families who plan to arrive early (around 6 a.m.) are between 75th and 59th streets on Central Park West, before the parade turns at Columbus Circle. For families looking to arrive a little later (between 7 and 8 a.m.), grab a spot on 6th Avenue between 59th and 38th streets. Seating is very limited between 38th Street and Herald Square, due to the various TV broadcasts.
Tip: Please call YAI National Institute at 212-273-6181 or visit their website for more information.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 2018 Parade Floats, Balloons & Performers
For an extra-special experience, head to New York City the day before Thanksgiving in order to see the large balloons being inflated for the parade. On Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018, families can go to the area on Central Park West, between 81st and 77th streets, in front of the American Museum of Natural History, and see the balloons before they march in the parade. Inflation takes place between 3 and 10 p.m. and is free and open to the public. However, don’t attempt to drive there — walk if you’re close enough or use public transit.
New floats for 2018 include “Splashing Safari Adventure” by Kalahari Conventions and Resorts, and “Santa’s Saint Bernards Save Christmas,” by Elf Pets and the Elf on the Shelf. Classics such as Tom Turkey, Charlie Brown, and The Grinch will return along with Santa and Mrs. Claus, of course!
Twelve marching bands will join the parade, too; many are high school bands from all over the country, joined by the West Point Band, the New York Police Department’s Marching Band, and Macy’s Great American Marching Band. Cheer and dance teams from around the country will also march in the parade, as will the Radio City Rockettes.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 2018 Hotels
The best way to see the parade is to get to New York City early, but that can be difficult if your family has to travel far. Instead, see our list of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Packages in New York City, featuring hotels that offer prime parade views and comfortable accommodations right on the parade route!
If you can’t snag a parade package, try one of these other hotels that are either on or near the parade route:
The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park
Located on Central Park South, between 5th and 6th avenues. Free breakfast and hotel credit packages are available.
JW Marriott Essex House New York
Located on Central Park South, between 6th and 7th avenues. Standard rates are not available during Thanksgiving week, but package rates include breakfast, parking and other amenities.
Hotel St. James
Located on West 45th Street, between 6th and 7th avenues.
Located at 54 Thomas Street, near Columbus Circle. Free breakfast packages are available.
Holiday Inn Express NYC-Herald Square 36th St.
Located on West 36th Street, between 5th and 6th avenues. Breakfast is included in rates; free parking and airport transportation packages are available.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 2018 Attractions
Whether you have time to spare before or after the parade, be sure to see these top attractions in New York City, all of which are on or near the parade route.
Walk, bike, feed the birds or let the kids be kids on the various playgrounds in Central Park. It’s a free attraction that can easily eat up spare time. Tip: Weather permitting, enjoy ice skating in the park for a memorable experience.
Radio City Music Hall
Snag tickets to the famous Christmas Spectacular show, if you can for the night before the parade, or just enjoy walking around the iconic hall while sipping hot chocolate from Magnolia Bakery.
Watch the ice skaters or give it a whirl yourself in Rockefeller Center. Walk the plaza while window-shopping or head to the Top of the Rock Observation Deck for spectacular views of the city.
Empire State Building
Whether you snap a photo of the famous skyscraper from the ground or are brave enough to travel to the top, the Empire State Building is a must-see whenever your family visits the Big Apple.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 2018 Restaurants
Stop in for a bite at one of these restaurants along the parade route during your trip to New York City.
Southern cooking in the big city? It’s comfort food that comes in large portions at budget-friendly prices. Dallas BBQ is a chain, but the 72nd Street location is close to Central Park West and the parade route.
Greek-American diner Astro serves up breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night favorites and is located close to the parade route on 6th Avenue, between 55th and 56th streets.
Tony’s Di Napoli – Midtown
Enjoy family-style Italian favorites at Tony’s Di Napoli’s Midtown location on 43rd Street, between 6th and 7th avenues.
In need of dessert? Enjoy cupcakes, cookies, hot chocolate and other treats from Magnolia Bakery. The location on 6th Avenue, between 49th and 50th streets, is convenient (and near Radio City Music Hall).