Where to Go & What to Do in NYC on Thanksgiving

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Heading to NYC on Thanksgiving? 

While many gather with families and friends, there are plenty of things you can still enjoy if you opt for a holiday adventure away from home. 

Keep in mind that some city establishments and attractions may have modified hours or closures on Thanksgiving.

To help you plan, this guide will give you ideas on what to do in the Big Apple during Thanksgiving featuring the best restaurants and bars that remain open during the holiday, along with a selection of activities and festivals to explore. 

For more holiday activities, check out our guides for New York in the fall and New York on Christmas Day.

Or peruse all of our NYC guides for even more travel tips and insights.

Thanksgiving in NYC

We’ll start with places to eat and bars you should check out, and then share activities or attractions to check out over the holiday weekend.

Find our seasonal travel tips at the end of the guide.

The Best Restaurants Open on Thanksgiving

Here are our choices for the best dining establishments open for New York City Thanksgiving.

Some of them feature special events and menus exclusive for the holiday.

The Smith

If you are wondering where to eat Thanksgiving in NYC, The Smith is a delightful option for delectable dishes in a comfortable setting.

The Smith is an excellent restaurant with multiple locations around New York City, including in the East Village, Lincoln Square, and Midtown, among others.

The atmosphere is always lively and comfortable, and on Thanksgiving weekend there are specials like the roasted turkey with butternut squash soup and ricotta gnocchi.

Whether you are looking to stop for a Thanksgiving lunch in NYC with family or sit down for a whole traditional turkey meal, The Smith is a delightful option.

Valerie

Located only a block away from Times Square, Valerie (45 W 45th Street) is a golden homage to the art-deco style of New York City in the 1920s.

Some are only familiar with Valerie as a vintage cocktail bar with popular signature drinks like Chai Me to the Moon, a cocktail featuring gin, sherry vermouth, chai lemon, and 5spice.

With that said, Valerie is also a popular dining destination, and that is especially true on Thanksgiving weekend.

The Thanksgiving special is a 3-course traditional Thanksgiving dinner in NYC, starting with a spiced butternut squash soup, hickory-smoked roasted turkey, and ending with an apple cobbler.

Blossom on Columbus

If your plant-based palate is more on the refined side, Blossom on Columbus (507 Columbus Avenue) is the upscale vegan restaurant that should be on your Thanksgiving radar.

This fine-dining establishment offers a special menu available exclusively on Thanksgiving Day in NYC, elevating your holiday dining experience to a new level.

Blossom’s parsnip ravioli, cooked with truffle oil and elegantly topped with crispy shiitake mushrooms, is a culinary treat that anyone would savor to the last forkful.

From savory starters to sweet desserts, Blossom curates a meal that is both satisfying and refined.

Whether you opt for Modern Love’s contemporary vegetarian Thanksgiving in NYC with all the traditional fixings or Blossom’s upscale vegan experience with refined flavors, your plant-based palate is in for a treat.

Dante

Enjoy a special meal in style at Dante (79-81 MacDougal Street), a fine-dining cafe that has been in the West Village for over 100 years.

It maintains that classic elegance and style that comes with that sort of longevity.

Guests can sit for a fixed-price menu that includes oven-roasted turkey breast, figs & san Danielle, and butternut & acorn squash with a maple glaze.

Bubby’s

Few restaurants in Manhattan are as homey as Bubby’s (120 Hudson Street).

While the traditional menu will make you feel like you are eating around the dining room table, the Thanksgiving menu takes that to another level.

Starters can include deviled eggs or buttermilk biscuits, and the entree can either be roasted turkey or glazed ham with pineapples and cherries.

The sides include classics like cornbread stuffing and candied sweet potatoes, and dessert options include a pumpkin praline and apple-whiskey crumble.

While there is a popular dine-in option, Bubby’s also offers Thanksgiving takeout in NYC.

Industry Kitchen

Industry Kitchen (70 South Street) is a trendy industrial-style restaurant on Pier 15, overlooking the East River next to the Brooklyn Bridge.

Industry Kitchen is mostly known for its wood-fired pizza and other American eats, and on Thanksgiving weekend, specials combine its unique style with Thanksgiving classics.

The Thanksgiving Pizza is a wood-fired pizza topped with turkey, cranberry sauce, and stuffing, familiar enough to remind you of home while also featuring a signature chic style.

Industry Kitchen is a great choice for large groups with plenty of beautiful riverfront views and large portions that everyone can share.

Modern Love

Share the love this holiday season at Modern Love (317 Union Avenue), a Williamsburg gem serving up delectable, made-in-house vegan dishes.

Whether you’re looking for a vegan Thanksgiving in NYC or just eager to try something new, Modern Love’s Thanksgiving menu is sure to delight your taste buds.

A special Thanksgiving menu can include carved smoked seitan turkey with all the trimmings or a vegan twist on a classic favorite like their Thanksgiving burger.

Margie’s

Margie’s (101-10 Rockaway Beach Drive) is a popular restaurant located on the ground floor of The Rockaway Hotel, a popular beachfront destination immediately west of Long Beach Island.

Brightly lit and sharing a blend of seaside style with the feel of a classic New York diner, Margie’s will make you feel at home the moment you step inside.

On Thanksgiving, there is a fixed-price option featuring herb-brined turkey with sides such as honey-roasted parsnip bisque and a cobb bowl, as well as desserts like the warm apple crumb pie with bourbon caramel sauce.

If you are looking for a more affordable Thanksgiving dinner in NYC, Margie’s may be closer to your budget expectations than some of the other fine-dining options in the city.

Manhattan skyline Essex House sign NYC New York

The Best Bars Open on Thanksgiving

Thinking about a few beverages after your Thanksgiving dinner in NYC?

Whether you’re raising a toast to gratitude or seeking a cozy corner to unwind, we’ve rounded up the city’s best bars open during the holiday.

All & Sundry

All & Sundry (312 W 58th Street) is a chic cocktail bar and bistro that exudes elegance.

Located in a cozy corner of the city, this place is known for its stylish decor and warm, genteel atmosphere.

It’s the kind of spot where you can listen to live jazz or DJs, making it a perfect choice for a Thanksgiving outing.

Sip on a “Betty Boop,” a delightful mix of vodka, Cocchi rosa, carpano bitter, and a splash of lemon.

If you’re feeling adventurous, don’t miss out on the “Pirates of Tulum,” a concoction of white rum, mezcal, honey, and lime that’s sure to transport your taste buds to sunnier shores.

Brooklyn Social

In the heart of Downtown Brooklyn, you’ll find the original Smith Street cocktail bar, Brooklyn Social (335 Smith Street).

This popular bar is a place where classic drinks and a vintage ambiance blend seamlessly, celebrating the rich history of South Brooklyn and its Italian-American roots.

When you step inside, you’re transported to a bygone era, and it’s easy to see why it is a local favorite.

If you find yourself at Brooklyn Social, be sure to try “Matt’s Ginger Old Fashioned,” a delightful concoction made with bourbon, muddled ginger, and cherries.

For something a bit more refreshing, the “Fellini” is a fantastic choice, blending prosecco, litchi nectar, and mint.

Maggie Mae’s Bar

Maggie Mae’s Bar (4115 Queens Blvd, Sunnyside, NY) is more than just a place to get a drink; it’s a haven where locals come to meet old friends and make new ones.

This welcoming establishment in the heart of the city offers creative cocktails, local craft beers, and an atmosphere that invites you to unwind and escape the hustle and bustle of the city.

Try the “Spicy Pomegranate Paloma,” made with Hornitos tequila, grapefruit, lime, and a touch of jalapeno for a kick.

Or opt for the “Blackberry Fence Hopper,” a delightful blend of vodka, muddled blackberries, honey, and lemon juice.

The Dead Rabbit

The Dead Rabbit (30 Water Street) is a unique two-story establishment that offers the perfect blend of a lunchtime taproom and an evening parlor serving small plates and vintage cocktails.

This place combines history with a contemporary twist, making it a must-visit on your Thanksgiving weekend journey.

Their signature drinks are a true reflection of the Irish spirit.

Try the “Irish Coffee Martini,” a surprisingly satisfying fusion of Irish whiskey, coffee liqueur, espresso, and a dash of nutmeg.

Another popular cocktail is the “Wild Rover,” a tantalizing mix of Irish whiskey, pear, honey, lemon, and egg white.

If you are sticking around after Thanksgiving, come back to The Dead Rabbit’s Christmas pop-up bar, Jingle Jangle, which features in our guide on holiday decorations.

Magic Hour Moxy Times Square rooftop cocktail Manhattan NYC New York

Things to Do in NYC on Thanksgiving

From the iconic Macy’s Thanksgiving parade in NYC to discovering hidden gems, the following list outlines some of the best things to do around the holiday.

We’ve also included attractions you can visit during Thanksgiving weekend.

Before going, be sure to check updated operational hours on some of these places.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Want to join in some of the most iconic New York Thanksgiving events?

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a classic New York City tradition that dates back 100 years and should be the first item on anyone’s list of Thanksgiving activities in New York.

Starting early in the morning, a parade begins along Central Park in Manhattan along 8th Avenue, eventually making its way to 6th Avenue and heading south into Midtown.

The Thanksgiving Day parade in NYC is composed of thousands of dancers, floats, and the famous balloons that tower over the streets below.

There are many places to set up to watch the parade, which typically takes roughly an hour and a half to pass by any given point.

Central Park is a popular place to watch since it is the beginning of the parade, with the most popular point being 72nd Street on the east side of the road (the west side is not open to the public).

If you are interested in getting there early and going about the rest of your day around 11am, then Central Park is the best option for you.

To get there a little later in the morning, head over to Sixth Avenue, where the crowds are a little less populated, and there is a bit more room around the route itself.

Since you will be standing outside for several hours, make sure you dress in layers in case you start to get cold, and if you have kids, make sure you pack snacks, little toys, and books to keep them occupied.

The parade is also included in our NYC bucket list.

Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (1000 5th Avenue), known as “The Met,” is the largest museum in the United States.

Its expansive collection of works of art and historic artifacts is a testament to the richness of human creativity.

During NYC Thanksgiving weekend, you can attend a variety of events at The Met.

For art enthusiasts, there’s “Saturday Sketching at The Met Cloisters,” offering the opportunity to create your own masterpieces inspired by the museum’s collection. 

Families with young children can enjoy “Fantastic Fantasy,” a MetCreates event designed for kids aged 5-8 that combines storytelling with art.

Book a tour to see all the highlights of this expansive museum without getting overwhelmed.

A museum visit is also one of our favorite things to do in NYC when it rains.

Radio City Christmas Spectacular Show 

Book a ticket to see one of the city’s most beloved shows during the holidays, which is the Radio City Christmas Spectacular in Radio City (1260 6th Ave).

This world-renowned show runs throughout the holiday season, and the weeks around Thanksgiving and the first two weeks of December are among the most popular times to catch this performance.

Your ticket comes with a guided tour around the areas, including the holiday windows at Saks Fifth Avenue and the iconic Rockefeller Christmas Tree, which lights up a day after Thanksgiving.

Radio City Christmas Tree NYC New York

Museum of Broadway

Another museum you can visit during Thanksgiving weekend is the Museum of Broadway (145 W 45th Street).

This is an innovative museum that has partnered with internationally renowned artists, designers, and theater historians to create an interactive experience that showcases the groundbreaking moments in Broadway’s storied history.

Step into the world of historic Broadway productions and their profound impact on the art and culture of New York City.

With special exhibits that highlight specific shows, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of how the theater has shaped the city’s identity.

Bryant Park Winter Village

For popular attractions open on Thanksgiving in New York, head to Bryant Park’s Winter Village (41st Street and 6th Ave).

This opens in late October and lasts through early March.

Free admission to the ice skating rink is available.

You can walk around and check out a variety of unique holiday-themed products and a cozy spot to eat and drink by the rink.

Exploring Bryant Park is also one of the cool free things to do in NYC if you’re visiting the city on a budget.

Bryant Park Ice Rink NYC New York

The High Line

For outdoor things to do in NYC on Thanksgiving Day, go to The High Line (Gansevoort St. to W. 30 St.).

This public park transformed from a disused elevated railway track provides visitors with the opportunity to stroll through lush gardens, see the city views, or simply take a break on the benches around this place.

The High Line is the spot to visit during the holiday if you want fewer people around and a lovely view.

You may also check out our guide to the fun outdoor activities in New York City.

View of buildings with lights on at the High Line in NYC.

Thanksgiving Cruise in NYC

Go on this 2.5-hour Thanksgiving cruise in NYC for a memorable holiday celebration.

The dinner cruise includes a classic menu featuring all of the Thanksgiving staples served buffet-style.

Bask in the beautiful skyline views as you cruise around iconic New York Harbor or hit the dance floor when the DJ plays your favorite tune to fight off the food coma.

State City Cruises Statue of Liberty NYC New York Battery Park

Hall des Lumieres

For a truly immersive art experience, visit the Hall des Lumieres (49 Chambers Street).

This digital art center takes you on a visual journey through breathtaking spectacles. 

Step into a three-dimensional world of art, thoughtfully designed specifically for this unique space.

Here, you’ll not only explore the history of famous works of art but experience them in an entirely new and captivating way.

City Ice Pavilion

If you are looking for somewhere to go ice skating during Thanksgiving, City Ice Pavilion (47-32 32nd Place, Long Island City) is where you should lace up your skates.

Most tourists think that Rockefeller Plaza is the best place to ice skate in NYC, but people can often end up disappointed to find that the rink is incredibly crowded no matter when you choose to go.

This expansive facility offers free skating for all ages, and if you are looking for something more advanced, they also offer classes and spaces for ice hockey.

For more ice skating spots to visit during other times, check out our guide to ice skating in NYC.

Brooklyn Boulders

When it comes to climbing and adventure, Brooklyn Boulders (23-10 41st Avenue) is the place to be. 

It’s not just a climbing gym; it’s a hub for climbers, adventurers, and fitness enthusiasts of all kinds.

Whether you’re a seasoned climber or a total newbie, they offer climbing classes and boulder types to help you hone your skills and reach new heights.

And if you’re looking for family-friendly fun, Brooklyn Boulders has you covered there too.

Kids as young as 3 can get in on the action with a small climbing wall designed just for them.

Plus, don’t miss out on Adventure Days, where you can tackle climbing challenges, engage in team-building exercises, and even dive into some cool science and technology activities.

During Thanksgiving, be sure to check out their updated hours of operation to plan ahead. 

Museum of the Moving Image

The Museum of the Moving Image (36-01 35th Avenue) is perfect for film enthusiasts and art lovers alike.

Explore their ever-changing exhibitions, from temporary to permanent, which offer unique insights into the world of cinema.

Dive into their film screenings and engage in live conversations with artists, filmmakers, scholars, and industry professionals.

And if you’re a lover of history, don’t miss out on access to the museum’s extensive collection of over 130,000 artifacts of film and television.

If you are looking for museums open on Thanksgiving in NYC, The Museum of the Moving Image should be near the top of your list.

New York Hall of Science

Kids will have a blast at the New York Hall of Science (47-01 111th Street), an interactive museum where guests can explore and engage with different exhibits related to scientific discovery.

One of the most popular exhibits is Powering the City, an interactive exhibit that demonstrates how electricity travels through the New York City grid.

With so many outdoor activities that can leave the whole family cold and tired, this museum is a great way to warm up and bring the kids back to life.

If you are in New York at Thanksgiving time and want to find something warm and entertaining to do, the New York Hall of Science is a fantastic decision you will not regret.

NYC Winter Lantern Festival

Be amazed by the NYC Winter Lantern Festival (73-50 Little Neck Parkway) with its stunning light-show experience involving over 1,000 Chinese lanterns and LED attachments.

When the sun goes down, the many different light fixtures bring New York City on Thanksgiving to life, with different designs that guests can weave through and immerse themselves in.

All lanterns are designed by artists trained in the trade of Chinese lanterns and light design, turning Queens County Farm Museum into a different world.

NYC Turkey Trot

The NYC Turkey Trot is a popular Thanksgiving run in NYC, with options for 5k and half-marathons on Thanksgiving Day.

The race begins in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, looping around the Queens Museum and Unisphere for a picturesque trip around Queens.

With Meadow Lake serving as the picturesque backdrop, racers will loop past landmarks like the Vatican Pavilion, the Garden of Meditation, the Queens Museum, the Arthur Ashe Stadium, and the Fountain of the Planets.

Support your charity of choice while breathing in the crisp air of Thanksgiving morning.

If you love these types of events, check out our list of fall festivals in New York City.

Harlem Meer Central Park in NYC New York

Tips for Thanksgiving Weekend in NYC

Stay one step ahead of the NYC weather and booking challenges during Thanksgiving with the following tips and suggestions.

Plan for the Weather

Thanksgiving Day in New York City is traditionally cold, with an average temperature of around 40 degrees in the morning and reaching a high of around 50 degrees.

It’s a good idea to pack warm clothing and extra layers in case it ends up being colder than you anticipated.

While the forecast may say one temperature, the wind chill could make it feel much colder than you expected!

If you have children with you, it is always best practice to bring blankets and extra jackets, hats, and gloves.

The grid layout of New York City lends itself to sudden gusts of winds tunneling between buildings, and the crisp air coming off the East River only exacerbates the wind chill.

Check the weekly forecast for Thanksgiving NYC weather before packing for your trip or choosing your clothing, as the weather could potentially fluctuate into warmer temperatures or colder temperatures.

Book Ahead of Time

Thanksgiving in NYC may not be as popular a time of year as Christmas, but it is still a busy time for the city.

Many people are coming into town to visit family; others are coming to the city for a family vacation, especially the weekend after Thanksgiving.

Meanwhile, many restaurants and event spaces are closed or short-staffed on Thanksgiving Day, and even the weekend in some cases, so there is a case of increased demand and shortened supply.

With all of that said, you will most likely not have to deal with immense crowds, but you should still book everything ahead of time.

If you are staying at a hotel, make sure you make all of your reservations about a month ahead of time just to be sure that limited availability isn’t taken up.

If you plan on going to a restaurant for dinner, schedule a reservation before you go, as they are most likely short-staffed.

Whatever is on your agenda, from visiting the Statue of Liberty to just going out to eat, it is best to reserve as much as you can ahead of time on holiday weekends.

Confirm Timing Ahead of Time

Whether reservations are accepted or not, it’s always a good idea to confirm that the place is open on Thanksgiving weekend or if the hours may have shifted.

Everything in our guide was chosen because it is open that weekend, but business can fluctuate based on a number of factors, and there is always a chance the hours may shift based on staffing.

Make sure you check the website or call to make sure.

Top of Rock view including Empire State Building

Final Thoughts

We hope our guide helped you plan your NYC Thanksgiving experience!

Let us know in the comments which one you’re looking forward to the most or if you have any additional recommendations.

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