Bucket list item: Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Check.
My brother wasn’t going to be home for Thanksgiving this year, so my mom suggested we do something different. My mom knew what she was getting herself into by saying that to me. She knew that I was going to come up with a crazy idea! (I always do!) And I did. I instantly suggested going to NYC to see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Something my mom and I have always dreamed of doing. What I wasn’t expecting – my mom to instantly agree with my crazy plans.
We left home around 2 PM Wednesday to get to our hotel in Milford, Connecticut. The traffic was not nearly as bad as we expected. I think it helped that we listened to Christmas music on the way and couldn’t stop talking about our big adventure!
We stayed at Hyatt Place New Haven/Milford. I booked the hotel through my Southwest Rapid Reward card and got 1,000 points by doing so.
- Room was spacious and clean
- Complimentary breakfast (coffee, tea, juice, cereal, yogurt bar, english muffins, toast, eggs, bacon)
- Free Wifi
Even though our stomachs were filled with butterflies, it was time to grab some dinner! Cracker Barrel was conveniently right down the road from our hotel. We were beyond satisfied with our meals and service. I feel like it’s a crime to not eat Cracker Barrel on a road trip! Am I right?
I decided to find myself a bottle of wine to help me relax when we got back to the hotel.
Tip: you can’t purchase wine in grocery stores in CT. It has to be at a liquor store or wine outlet.
I was looking for a cheap, twist off bottle of red! Don’t judge! I enjoyed a glass and a half of $7 wine.
Cheers to Flip Flop Wines!
The day was here! We got up bright and early to get ready and grab some complimentary breakfast from the hotel.
The drive over to Union Station in New Haven was less than 15 minutes from our hotel. We bought our tickets for the Metro-North train at the ticket counter and paid $35 for round trip to Grand Central Station. The train ride to NYC was just under 2 hours and we were there before we knew it!
Tip: there’s charging outlets on the train – we brought a charger to use on the way there and back
I was aware that a numerous of roads would be closed for the parade but I didn’t know that they would also be closed for pedestrians. We made our way down 5th Avenue looking for a street that was open to watch the parade from. The police officers were extremely helpful in directing everyone where to go. We got to 6th and 46th around 9:20 AM and after waiting about ten minutes, the parade started going by.
This is how far back we were at first:
Of course, it’s crowded but as you can see it’s not jam packed. When the parade started, people moved closer but it still didn’t feel overly crowded. We were not able see anyone on the street but the floats and balloons were easy to view.
Olaf’s carrot nose was our first peak at the balloons!
As people left, we were able to get closer and closer. By the time the parade ended, we were probably only 10-15 people back. We still couldn’t really see the marching bands but we went into this just wanting to get a glimpse of the parade.
Do you need to get there at 6 AM?
For us, it wasn’t worth it. We knew we wanted to spend the entire day in the city and didn’t want to wake up at 3 AM to take the train in to get there early enough. Honestly – this spot was perfect and we only waited 10 minutes for the parade. Parents did have to lift their kids up when a float or balloon would go by. I’m sure that kids would have better views by lining up early but I can’t imagine keeping them entertained and warm until the parade started. Like I mentioned before, we couldn’t see anything on the street. Maybe if I ever did this again I would get early to get a closer spot to see more of the parade. By the way, I would do this again!
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…
Seeing Santa finish off the parade was everything I expected and more! If we were home, it would have been time to sit down for Thanksgiving dinner. But in NYC, it’s time do some exploring. We made our way down 5th Avenue to check out all of the windows decorated for Christmas. I have never seen anything like this before – it was spectacular!
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
As we were walking down 5th Avenue we stopped at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The cathedral was open so we went inside to check it out. Absolutely stunning detail and history in the middle of the city that never sleeps!
The next stop was that giant Christmas tree in the middle of Rockefeller Center. Unfortunately, they don’t light the tree until after Thanksgiving but it was still a sight to see!
The Rink at Rockefeller was open for skaters if that’s something you would want to add to your visit. I don’t know how much walking I could have done after skating a few laps.
Here are the 2017 prices:
$25 Standard Adult Admission
$27 Holiday Adult Admission
$32 Peak Adult Admission
($15 Under 11 and Seniors)
$12 Skate Rental
Always check their website for updated prices and schedules.
Slice, Slice Baby
It was time to eat and it wasn’t going to be turkey! I noticed a small pizza shop that offered slices of pizza. It was small but offered a large selection of pizza and had limited but enough seating – oh and bathrooms!
My mom couldn’t get over how we were having pizza for our Thanksgiving dinner but we loved every second of it. Lunch cost us under $12 (two slices of pizza and a bottle of ginger ale) and it was delicious!
I would recommend stopping at Radio City Pizza on 142 West 49th St for a quick slice between running around the city.
The next part was so exciting for me. I remember my first reaction when I saw Time Square and I couldn’t wait to show my mom. Her reaction didn’t disappoint and it was her favorite part of NYC.
Last time I went to Time Square it was late at night and I couldn’t believe how bright it was. Well, even in the afternoon it’s still way brighter than the rest of the city! We did some shopping and grabbed some coffee as we continued our adventure.
We started heading towards the Empire State Building and stopped at Bryant Park to check out the Winter Village at Bryant Park – ice skating rink, tree and lots of cute little shops. The weather warmed up and it was perfect as we browsed the shops and enjoyed the warm sunshine.
Empire State Building
The Empire State Building is open on Thanksgiving if you ever decide to go. My mom has terrible vertigo and knew that the very long elevator ride up would make her feel really dizzy. The lobby was all decorated for Christmas and visions of Elf danced through our head.
Here are the 2017 prices:
Adult Standard Pass: $35
Child Standard Pass: $30
Senior Standard Pass: $34
Always check the website for updated prices and schedules.
Grand Central Terminal
Again, another beautiful building full of amazing detail and art. It was time to head back home. Remeber, we still had a two hour train ride and then about a 2 hour ride in the car. Our plan was to take the 4:00 PM train but when we looked at the schedule there was a 3:30 PM train. It was already 3 PM so we quickly used the bathrooms, got a snack (soft pretzels!) and drink for the ride and walked around getting our last glimpse of NYC.
When we got in the train, it was a feeling of relief and accomplishment. The first time we had ever skipped out on Thanksgiving and it was to do something we had always dreamed of. Our phones were pretty much drained at this point and the outlet and charger came in handy again. We spent the train ride going through our pictures and letting our legs relax after walking over 18,000 steps (thanks Fitbit).
Mom’s Take on NYC
Q: What was your favorite part?
A: “Time Square.”
Q: What was something that you weren’t expecting?
A: “To be able to watch the parade and to see all the floats and balloons.”
Q: Is there anything you would have done differently?
A: “I don think so. I saw what I wanted to see.”
Q: Would you go back again?
Q: What did you dislike about NYC?
A: “The smells.” (On our ride home she said she could still smell the street meat..lol)
I hope this inspires someone to tackle an item on their bucket list. Especially, if it’s to see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!
What’s on your bucket list that you’re going to cross off next?