What's Open on Thanksgiving Day in NYC 2014: 11 Things to Do with Kids Besides the Parade
Yes, everyone knows about the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. But what happens once it's over? Your dinner doesn't start for another few hours, and if you're not the one cooking, you're going to find yourself with free time on your hands.
Luckily, this is the city that never sleeps. There actually are things to do on Thanksgiving Day in New York City that don't involve eating turkey, watching giant balloons or camping out for Black Friday sales. Here are 11 fun ways to spend part of Thanksgiving Day with your kids.
1. See a flick. Movie theaters are open on Thanksgiving Day, so your family can get reacquainted with the zany Penguins of Madagascar or see Disney's Big Hero 6. If you've got older kids, catch Katniss on the big screen in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1.
2. Go ice-skating. Thanksgiving is a great day to hit the ice before or after your big feast. The rinks at Winter Village in Bryant Park, Brookfield Place, Wollman in Central Park, Riverbank State Park, McCarren Park and Rockefeller Center are all open for skating on Thanksgiving (weather permitting). Note: Since Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade marches down Sixth Avenue, wait to head to Bryant Park until after the parade passes. You can even do some holiday shopping at its market, which will be open, too. Too cold for you out there? Four indoor rinks are open as well: Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers, World Ice Arena and Aviator Sports and Events Center and Abe Stark.
3. Take a stroll. My family and I plan to walk off our dinners by checking out all of the awesome department store holiday windows in Midtown East before the crowds arrive for Black Friday. Thanksgiving is also a great day to take a quiet stroll through one of our city's iconic green spaces. Central Park, Prospect Park, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and Van Cortlandt Park are all open, as are many others.
4. Get a workout before you feast or just watch your brood break a sweat in the Long Island City YMCA's Kids Turkey Dash, featuring short races for various age groups. If you prefer wheels, join the Pilgrim Pedal, a multi-mile bike ride beginning and ending on East 23rd. The entry fee covers the cost of a mid-ride breakfast at a Brooklyn diner and participants are encouraged to come in holiday costumes.
5. See a show. Big Apple Circus: Metamorphosis and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular both have availability for their Thanksgiving performances. Broadway shows Pippin, The Phantom of the Opera and Chicago all have performances that day, too.
7. Go bowling. Balls will start rolling at the Times Square and Chelsea Piers Bowlmor Lanes at noon and 4pm respectively. Lucky Strike on 42nd and 12th Avenue opens at noon. If you'd rather play games, arcade/restaurant Dave & Buster's is open, too.
8. Play tourist. If you're entertaining out-of-towners, the Empire State Building and the Top of the Rock are open and possibly not as crowded as they usually are. You can also take a sail on the Circle Line, or visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
9. Explore a museum. Although most cultural institutions are closed for the holiday, the no-cost National Museum of the American Indian is open as is Brooklyn's Jewish Children's Museum. You can also hit Midtown West tourist spots like Madame Tussauds, Ripley’s Believe it or Not Odditorium and Discovery Times Square, home to Body Worlds: Pulse and Marvel's Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N..
10. Pamper yourself. If all that Thanksgiving planning, cooking and feasting wipes you out, take a dip in the rejuvenating waters of the family-friendly Spa Castle, which is open on the holiday.
11. Help others less fortunate. Although most Thanksgiving volunteer opportunities are already filled up, there are a few that still have room. My son and I often deliver turkey dinners to home-bound New Yorkers through Gods Love We Deliver. According to the website, it's sold out but it's worth emailing the organization to see if last-minute help is needed. Also, the Church of the Intercession's Gobble Gobble Give NYC puts volunteers to work on a first-come, first-served basis on Thanksgiving morning, so arrive early if you want to help!
Start planning the rest of your holiday season with our Holiday Fun Guide.
This post was originally published in November 2009.