From Parade to Hot Chocolate: Fall Fun in New York City

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It’s a busy time of the year already here at the Cains. We have one big family trip still up our sleeves this year and I have a few solo trips on my own before hanging my wings, as I do every year, to celebrate the holidays at home with my family.

My kids are all about Halloween and yes, even talking about the Thanksgiving menu already. I know people are finalizing their visits to New York City right about now too, which always gets me excited because it truly is the best time to visit!

I wanted to get a little list of favorites in New York around Thanksgiving to help plan your trip.

NYC Fallphotography_girlgonetravel

Ours pre-holiday days are whirlwind days taking in the city as tourists do. One of our absolute favorite tours in the city, especially during the holidays, are with The Ride NYC. It’s theatre from a bus and throughout NYC. Want to learn about the city while also enjoying some fun entertainment surrounded by holiday scenery? This one is for you.

We also really enjoyed the tour with Holiday Lights and Movie Sights with On Location Tours. If you are like me, and love all those fun holiday movies every year, then you will get a kick out of this tour as you get to see exactly where the scenes of some of the most popular holiday movies, from Scrooge to Miracle on 34th Street, were filmed. The bus also makes a few stops at some of the city’s most popular window displays and gives you time to get off for photographs.

I’m also a huge fan of eating tours as a way to discover New York. Taste the diversity through Multi-Ethnic Post-Thanksgiving Eating Tour, the season’s harvest at the Autumn Wine Festival both in NYC and NJ, and a bit of everything in the Festive Food and Holiday Fun in Midtown tour.

Read more tips on Holiday Fun in NYC  for pop-up shops some of which open after Thanksgiving Day. Our favorite holiday pop-up is in Bryant Park, where you can shop, ice-skate, get hot chocolate, and even enjoy a movie!

Shows to watch are The Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular, George Blanachine’s The Nutcracker performed by the New York City Ballet, and The Holiday Train Show at The New York Botanical Garden.

Of course, the main attraction in New York City during the month of November is the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Spectators come out the day before to see the big balloons inflate. It used to be something that only a few locals cared to see, but over the years this day has taken a life of its own drawing huge crowds that can span several blocks.

Sadly, to avoid them you have to get there early, but then there isn’t much to watch as the balloons don’t start taking shape till about 4:30PM. They give out tickets now too, with the last one being handed out around 9:15pm. It’s a long line and crowded, and difficult if you have a stroller but it will probably be the closest anyone gets to the balloons and kids of all ages love it. Balloon inflation for 2014 will be on November 26 and takes place on Columbus Avenue and 77th street.

Lastly, tree-lighting doesn’t really start happening till beginning of December (in 2014, the Rockefeller tree will be lit on December 3) but you can check out all the spots where a tree is set up: Bryant Park, South Street Seaport, of course Rockefeller Center, and Lincoln Square are art the top of our list.

The Met, The Plaza, St. John the Divine (on 112th street and Amsterdam), and the American Museum of Natural History have some spectacular holiday trees as well.

To get into the holiday spirit, I also like to spend time at Macy’s Santaland. Get there early and you can have your photo taken with Santa without the long lines.

For hot chocolate break and a break out of the cold weather, I like Max Brenner‘s holiday pop up in Bryant Park, Jacques Torres, La Maison du Chocolat, and MarieBelle.

Overall, what really makes New York City beautiful in November are the colors, the coolness in the air, the holiday joy, and the energy from so many different people visiting.

Enjoy the park, the weather, the festive sounds, and even the smell of roasting chestnuts in every corner. It’s as good as it gets during late fall in NYC.


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Carol Cain

Carol is her happiest when on an adventure, either close to home or farther away. She's the mom to three fun boys and wife to a handsome Irish/Scot. She lives in New Jersey with her happy crew, but will always be a girl from Brooklyn. You can read her full profile here.

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8 Responses to From Parade to Hot Chocolate: Fall Fun in New York City

  1. Makes me want to be there! Alas I must wait until mid-December. (hint hint blog fodder hint hint)

  2. hotmamatravel says:

    Sounds fantastic! I would love to see NYC during the holidays!

  3. I’ve always wanted to go to NYC for the holidays! I would love to see the parade and the tree! Putting it on my list of things to do with the kids!!

  4. New York City is probably exciting any time of the year – shows, food, luxury hotels. November sounds like a great time for a family trip :-).

    • caincarol says:

      Oh, there is never a shortage of things to do in the city, for sure. But, this year just makes me smile so much more!

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