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Where’s the Best Place to Watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?

 Where’s the Best Place to Watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?

Yesterday’s post offered 9 Tips to Watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. But the perhaps the ultimate question for anyone wanting to watch this holiday tradition live and in-person is, “where’s the best place to watch the Macy’s parade?”

Avoid Macy’s Department Store

Directly in front of Macy’s Department Store (Herald Square) is where NBC Broadcasts the parade. Many seats are reserved for dignitaries and other ticket holders. It’s best to avoid this area and choose a spot along 7th Avenue. Be aware that the blocks before and after this area are delineated as Quiet Zones for filming purposes. Marching Bands and musicians won’t perform in this area in order to avoid noise intrusion on the live broadcast. Unless you know someone, you won’t get close here.

Get There Early

 Where’s the Best Place to Watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?

Don’t be picky. All you need is a spot that offers a clear view down the street and a public bathroom nearby (Starbucks is often free, but lines are long). Note that many companies will reserve the sidewalk in front of their office for their employees. A good rule of thumb, if you see an available spot take it. Don’t walk further down the street to find a better spot. Chances are, there won’t be one and someone else will snag that primo spot that you just left.

Parade Hogs

 Where’s the Best Place to Watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?

Many groups section off their spot with Caution Tape, Chairs, Bleachers and other barriers – another reason to get your spot early. It’s awfully frustrating to see wide-open spaces and being told “this spot is reserved for the rest of our family who is coming later.”

You have 4 options in this situation:

  1. Continue Walking and Hope You Find Another Spot - not always successful but  it’s the most chosen option by shy individuals. I told you that you should have woken up earlier!
  2. Say, “Screw You” and proceed to takeover their space - also not advisable since you’ll immediately be on their bad side. You’ll have several hours of taunting, dirty looks and confrontations to deal with. As soon as you leave to run to the bathroom they’ll be hot on your case and take their space back. Remember, you want to enjoy the parade, not be worried about what the group behind you is plotting the whole time.
  3. Ask a nearby police officer about the rules of saving spots - Depending on the officer they may/ may not want to get involved. They may share that it’s first come, first serve, giving you some weight in proceeding with option # 2. Or…they may decide to not get involved and leave you on your own.
  4. Plead, beg, bribe – Perhaps the best way to sneak your way into these “reserved” sections is to befriend the protector of the seats. Approach them with a pleasant smile, offer to buy them a coffee and some doughnuts and stress that your party is small and that you’ll help them protect their space from other vultures. Appeal to the human emotion of care and consideration towards others.

Always Remember

 Where’s the Best Place to Watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?

When it’s all said and done, it truly doesn’t matter where you watch the parade, but rather who you watch it with.

So where did I end up? Across the street from the studio where David Letterman films. It was a fantastic spot. And how’d we get our front-row spot? We proceeded with option #4.

What tips do you have on selecting the best place to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? Share by commenting.

I’ll see you out there…! Save me a spot

And… have you visited my online, travel store? Shop here for way cool travel gifts at great prices. You’ll find perfect stocking stuffers for frequent travelers.


Greg Livingston

Do you have any advice for watching the parade at the very beginning, just below 77th St?


No, sorry. I like being in the middle, it lets the parade performers get into a groove.


Hi Ben – What are some good hotels to stay in that are right along the route? LIke near David Lettermans theater or somewhere cool like that???


I’m not sure. I stayed out of new York. Whatever you find will be $$$$$!


Do celebrity performers only perform near the Macy’s? Which street do I need to be on to see performances?


Celebrities go down the entire parade route, but I think they only sing in front of Macy’s.

Laura Sampson

HI Ben – wow, as a firsttimer you learned very quickly. So glad you were part of the magic & spirit this parade provides. I attended every year between the ages of 5-18 with my Dad. My tip is to be @ the start of the parade. You are leaving before most of the crowd & we got to see Santa 2x once in person & when we got home we’d see him infront of Macy’s on TV. Then we’d watch Miracle on 34 th St. Lovely memories.


Oh, that’s a great tip. You’ll spend less time in the cold and beat the crowds!


I like the spots at Central Park West and along 59th ave. they are far from Macy’s but you can “easily” get a good view without necessarily getting there SO early. Plus, they have a good amount of bleachers…
Norbert recently posted something special..7 Additional Buildings You Should See When in New York City


Thanks for the suggestion Norbert!


Jeremy, this isn’t just any parade, it’s probably THE parade in America. Watching it on TV and seeing it live and in person are two very different experiences.


Spanish Coffee…now I get it. Sounds delicious.

Cathy Sweeney

Love your tips, especially the options for dealing with “parade hogs”! Glad #4 worked for you. It would be such fun to be in NYC for the parade.
Cathy Sweeney recently posted something special..Three Months in a New York Minute



Sometimes you need to smooth talk your way in life to get what you want. A little kindness never hurt anyone!


Hmmm, No Vacation Required, what about a nice glass of wine or a cocktail to go with that blanket and couch?