You’re stuffed, but your calendar isn’t. Thankfully, the city is full of family-friendly activities for you and your little ones this weekend, whether you’re looking to run off that turkey or jump-start your holiday traditions.


1. Volunteer. As you give thanks for food, family, and shelter this Thanksgiving, consider lending a hand to those in need. New York Cares and The Bowery Mission are just two of the many organizations doing great work in the city – and they are both in need of volunteers during the Thanksgiving season (and beyond!). Something as simple as clearing your closet of old coats and donating them to your fellow New Yorkers can make a big difference.

2. Brave the parade. On a celebratory note, nothing says Thanksgiving like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. An 87 year tradition that is watched by 3.5 million New Yorkers, the parade is truly a sight to behold and something every New Yorker should do at least once. Watch your kids’ eyes light up as Pikachu, Buzz Lightyear and SpongeBob float by, towering several stories above their little heads. Check out the parade route and don’t forget to grab your spot well in advance of the 9 a.m. start (experts say 6 a.m. or earlier, but keep in mind the bathroom situation and weather when you start feeling eager). Of course, if crowds aren’t your thing, consider starting a new family tradition of watching the parade on TV while savoring donuts from some of the city’s best bakeries!


3. Brave the balloon inflation. Can’t wait until Thanksgiving Day to get your eyes on those famous balloons, head to the Upper West Side on Thanksgiving Eve to watch the balloons come to life. The streets surrounding the Natural History Museum are full of balloons and you – and about 10,000 other New Yorkers – can walk the loop and watch as the balloons take shape. Enter at West 79th St. and Columbus starting at 3 p.m. Word to the wise: the balloon inflation is beyond crowded so go early, leave the stroller at home, and avoid traveling to or from the area by car or taxi.

4. Pre-burn your turkey calories. After you polish off your donuts, but before the turkey feast, head to the Prospect Park Turkey Trot or the Long Island City YMCA Turkey Trot Kids Fun Run & Walk, both of which kick-off at 9:00 am on Thanksgiving morning.

5. Get in the holiday spirit. Of course, with Thanksgiving falling so late in November this year, you may want to use the weekend to get a jump on your holiday activities. Start at Rockefeller Center. The rink at Rock Center will be open – although the famous tree won’t be illuminated until the following week – and the Radio City Rockettes will be kickin’ it high and fast four times each day.

NYBG: Holiday Train Show, Tree Lighting Ceremony

If visions of sugarplums are already dancing in your head, head to Lincoln Center for the astonishingly beautiful production of The Nutcracker, opening November 29th.  In the Bronx, no one does model trains like the New York Botanical Gardens Holiday Train Show which will be open 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. this weekend (be sure to buy advance tickets online!).

6. Hop on the train. We’re talking about the dino train. Head to Washington Square to catch a performance of Jim Henson’s Dinosaur Train and get ready for a a time-traveling, interactive adventure.

macys window

7. Say, “hello” to Santa. For those eager to be first in line with their Christmas requests, Santa will be at Macy’s in Herald Square starting November 29th at 7 a.m. and just $5 buys you a ticket to Yes Virginia the Musical, a puppet show featuring the voices of Whoopi Goldberg and Matthew Broderick, also at Macy’s. And, of course, while you’re there, be sure to check out the store’s holiday window display.

8. Relax at a storytime. And if all of this exhausts you and leaves you looking to put your feet up, head to one of the city’s great storytimes. Books of Wonder offers a Saturday storytime which often features the authors themselves. Bank Street Books brings improve puppetry to its stores every weekend via Fractured Fables as audience members pick traditional story names from a bucket and then watch the quirky puppets work their magic. Further uptown, Book Culture offers a 3:30 p.m. storytime while Soho’s Scholastic Store brings well-known authors in each Saturday as part of their art and story-focused afternoons.

From all of us at Red Tri, we wish you a thankful, delicious, and fun-filled holiday weekend!

What are you doing this Thanksgiving weekend, besides eating a feast?

–Elizabeth Carr

Images courtesy of NY Cares, tweber1 via Flickr, NYBG Tailsman Brolin, Stacey Huggins via Flickr