Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade… on a budget!
Written by on Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

It’s CHRISTMAS IN JULY, which brings to mind a question…

has attending Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (in New York City) been on your bucket list for a while

but you weren’t sure where to begin?


s_parade begins

Last year, I finally crossed it off MY bucket list (yaaay!)

and this post shares some tips & reasons why New York City is such a FUN place to go over the Thanksgiving weekend.

First of all… NYC’s average high temperatures are 54° F (high) & 42° (low), in November.

It was definitely C-O-L-D, during our visit, but that just encouraged us to walk faster, so we kept pace with the locals. 😉

Just remember to layer your clothing and I highly recommend a hooded coat & comfy shoes!

s_outside macys

Start planning now so you can keep an eye out for travel bargains.

It doesn’t have to be a lengthy & super-expensive trip.

As a matter of fact, I kept mine short & sweet,

which left me wanting more, so I can’t wait to go back!

And here’s a few tips to keep your trip costs manageable…


Because I have a Christmas decorating business, 3 days are about all I can be gone, during the holiday season.

The Macy’s Parade is always on Thursday (over Thanksgiving weekend), so it fit perfectly and

I booked a flight that left very early (6:00 a.m.) on the Wednesday before & returned super late (11:00 p.m.) on the Friday night after.

Total airfare (for 2) on Jet Blue, including taxes, etc – $530

And using credit card miles cut our flight cost in half. 🙂

I have to be honest… I loved flying out super early because by 9:00 a.m.,

we had dropped off our bags at the hotel & were enjoying an inexpensive & yummy breakfast,

around the corner from our hotel at the Morning Star Diner.

I remember thinking “Wow, 3 hours before I was at home & here I am enjoying breakfast in the middle of

the New York City holiday hustle & bustle, ready to have some fun!”


NYC hotels demand premium rates on Thanksgiving weekend ($300 & up)

On the parade route, it’s even pricier (over $1,000 per night) AND they typically require a minimum 3 night stay.

But, we loved the very chic & hip style of the hotel I found in midtown Manhattan… more reasonably priced AND only a short walk to the parade route…


The Hudson

356 W 58th St #15

New York, NY

Phone:(212) 554-6217

Our rates were good, especially for NYC on Thanksgiving weekend – $265/night (including welcome drinks).

I checked (for you) and they are still quoting that rate, but NOW, they also include breakfast in the deal… woo hoo!

And because I planned a 2 night-only visit, it was even more affordable.


Some free things you can do around NYC….

check out the holiday decorations & store windows!

s_nyc street decor

They’re fascinating and fill you with holiday spirit.

Macy’s was one of the best, as always, and you’ll see more of their windows in the video below,

but New York is also famous for high-end jewelry stores, like…


I thought it was so clever how they used vinyl stickers to temporarily create apartment window scenes on the exterior of their building…

s_tiffany front     s_tiffany stickers

and the windows featured the same scenes in miniature, but they were back-lit and included their famous jewelry within the diorama scenes.

s_tiffany window 1     s_tiffany window 4

s_tiffany window 3


Check out THESE baguettes!

s_winston street view

s_winston jewels 3     s_winston jewels

Hey, it’s free to window shop! 🙂

And to check out the latest offerings in the Game & Toy Dept…


fao front     fao greeter


fao window

Across the street from F.A.O. SCHWARZ is a very famous, luxury hotel

made famous by a funny, little storybook & movie character… ELOISE!


So, be sure to pop into the gorgeous PLAZA Hotel and maybe, enjoy a holiday treat in their Restaurant or Food Hall.

s_plaza hotel

Another “no cost” offering is touring Central Park,

where you can’t help notice the unique contrast between tall buildings and an ice skater’s pond.

It’s a great place to linger over a cup of hot cocoa!


Because it’s still Autumn,

the opportunities for a Fall “photo op” are numerous and

here’s mine!

I think I’ll print this (perfect timing) photo on canvas, to decorate with, this Fall.

s_leaf toss

Of course, the park is famous for their horse & carriage rides,

s_central park

but F.Y.I. – these are pricey (CLICK HERE for rates),

so we skipped it and instead, took a leisurely stroll through the park.

When you’re zooming by, you miss a lot of the scenery, people watching and this funny character (ha ha)…


We did take a short ride through the park with a pedicab driver, but he pedaled super slow.

I’m sure everyone might have a different experience but, in our case, let’s just say…ummm…  a cab ride would have been less expensive.

The parade is the most famous FREE activity in NYC on Thanksgiving,

but before the parade begins, the balloons have to be inflated and viewing that is FREE too!

Inflation takes place on Thanksgiving-eve on the Upper West Side,

near the American Museum of Natural History (Columbus Ave. & 81st Street).

There is a designated viewing path for observers, usually marked by a cluster of regular balloons.

s_balloon inflation area

And just in case these balloon bouquets don’t tip you off that you’re in the right place,

rounding the corner will definitely confirm it!

s_papa smurf



As much fun as it is to view all of this wonderfulness in person,

you’ll be in the mood for something warm & cozy once you’re done.

So, here’s where that gift card to UNO’s Restaurant comes in handy because

I found that they have a handy location on the corner of the balloon inflation area,

ready to warm you up with a hot beverage & some food,

either inside or out….

s_uno gang

The next day… it’s time to attend the parade!

TRUE:  If you want a front, curbside spot, you’ll need to arrive early.

  Here’s our spot’s curbside view, around 6:30 a.m. (brrrrr!).

It was a short walk from our hotel on the west side of Central Park South.

The parade kicks off at 9:00 a.m. & runs through 12:00 noon.

s_curbside arrival view

FALSE:  If you bring something to sit on, the police will confiscate it.

I had stadium bleacher seats and TOTAL “blow-up sofa envy” over this guy sitting next to me! ha ha


TRUE:  Unless you happen to go during a year when the temperature is mild,

dress in layers…. LOTS of layers!

Did I get across the fact that you need to dress warm yet? 😉

Bring blankets, a thermos of hot beverage, hand warmers & anything else you can think of to generate heat.

And even with all of that cold weather, it didn’t snow.

I think that would have been fun.  At least I think so… I’ve still never seen snow fall.

Last but not least, bring something to do that you can see in the dark & light.

s_parade selfie

“OMG! I’m freezing!!!” (selfie)

Also TRUE:  Once the sun rises, the parade begins & your adrenaline begins to flow,

it feels a ton warmer and you’ll have made a lot of new friends, while you were waiting!

s_curb seat

Tired, but excited to be there!

And so, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade begins!!!!

The parade always kicks off with good ol’ Tom Turkey!

s_tom turkey

But, you’ll also see Funny Clowns…



Cool Celebrities…

s_fallon sign     s_fallon

s_sport celebs

Joe Namath & Hines Ward

Wonderful Bands…


The traditions of Cultural Groups…

s_cultural     s_cultural float_closer

Clever Parade Floats…


s_float 2 a

s_build a bear float

s_rocking horse float

Balloon Handlers…

s_balloon handlers

and, of course, BALLOONS!!!!

s_sponge bob closer






s_spidey_under view

Belly View!

     s_spiderman_during parade


s_lil kitty     s_lil kitty_close



And Santa & Mrs. Claus!


Macy’s Department Store is where you will find beautiful parade souvenirs,

like these commemorative cuties…

an adorable Jack in the Box & gorgeous Snow Globe.

s_macys_tree and souvenier     snow globe full 1

HELPFUL HINT:  In NYC, I only purchased the Jack-in-the-Box,

and a few weeks after returning home, I realized that I really, really wanted their beautiful Snow Globe too.

So, I called the NYC store and spoke to the most wonderful sales person who told me about their Basement,

where they send overstock and/or leftover items.

They had some left there and they were on sale… I got SO lucky!

It was originally $50 and I got it for $14!

Post-Parade FUN

So we had something to look forward to, after the parade,

we booked the afternoon performance of


at the internationally famous Radio City Music Hall Theater

s_radio city

s_radio city_inside

s_radio city_stage

HELPFUL HINT:  As I mentioned above, friend the Rockette’s website & order your tickets ahead of time (our tickets were $47 each plus taxes, etc.).  Then, when you get there, you can join the line on the left side of the building.  Don’t make the mistake of joining the shorter line on the right side of the building…. that’s for patrons who still need to purchase their tickets.  You’ll find your line (on the left side) quite long, but once it starts to move, it goes very quick.  It’s a HUGE theater!  And yes, they have a souvenir shop. 🙂

So, whew… 3 days flew by in a blur of enchanting fun.

If you’ve been on the fence about whether or not you should go,

I hope this helped you decide.

We spent apx. $1,000 for 2 people for airfare, hotel, cabs, food, entertainment, drinks, souvenirs & some incredible treats at Insomnia Cookies.

It was money well spent because we came home with $1,000,000 worth of wonderful memories!!

And as promised… here’s the short video I created of our holiday weekend in NYC, including the Macy’s Dept. Store holiday windows.

{If you want to view a larger version of the video, mouse over the bottom right hand corner so you can click on FULL SCREEN}

If you feel like even more creativity, including more musical holiday spirit, feel free to check out my YouTube Channel too….

there’s 28 of them! 🙂

Here’s that link:



FEEL FREE TO LEAVE YOUR COMMENTS… there may be a slight delay before it posts.


  1. Cookie17 says:

    I really enjoyed looking at this,saw some thing I would never see in real. My HB & I don’t like travel so this great..Thank’s ,Cookie17

  2. Eileen says:

    I’m so glad you enjoyed it Cookie. Hopefully, you felt (a little) like you were there. 🙂 Merry Christmas in July! Eileen

  3. Debbie says:

    What a magical adventure!!!! Thanks for the insider tips!!! I have always wanted to see the parade in person!! Thanks for taking the time and effort to post.

  4. DeAnna says:

    Eileen you are so right about the parade. I went in 1987 with our high school marching band…we were the first band right after Tom Turkey. In 2007 my oldest son, also marched in the parade in the same high school band I was in. It is an amazing experience to be in the parade. I cant wait to go back and watch without all the work or that long march! Merry Christmas in July!

  5. Tonia conner says:

    As this is a close as I’ll ever get to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade I truly thank you. And yes, much more up close and personal than TV. Thank you so much for sharing and making it enjoyable for us.

  6. Leigh Stevens says:

    So excited to see this!! thanks for the tips!!! I live outside of NYC and have never ventured out for the parade. My sister and her family are coming up this thanksgiving and we are going to do the PARADE this year:)

    We plan to hit the city on Wednesday to see the balloon fill and Time square at night; then get up VERY early for a spot on the street (we purchased the breakfast pkg tx at the brewery so we have a place to warm up, eat, and go to the restroom if needed), then Christmas spectacular at 2 pm, and then we have reservations for T’giving Dinner at 6 PM 🙂

    • Eileen says:

      Thanks for the additional tip about the breakfast parade package! I’ll keep that in mind on the next trip. 🙂 Eileen

  7. Of course, what a splendid site and educative posts, I definitely will bookmark your website.All the Best!

  8. Dianne Collier says:

    Thank you so much. This was so helpful. One question, where did you get the stadium seats? Buy them there? I’m 62, with a bad knee, don’t think I could stand for 4 hrs.
    We are planning for next year, with all your good tips. Happy Thanksgiving.

  9. Laura Hauptman says:

    Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a definite bucket list item for me. This was SUPER helpful. Thanks for posting!

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