20 Things To Do Thanksgiving Weekend in NYC with Kids

6. See a Nature Exhibit and Catch Some Holiday Cheer

The American Museum of Natural History’s Extinct and Endangered exhibit highlights the outsized impact tiny insects have on our planet and features the macrophotography of Levon Biss. Check out the beautifully bedecked origami tree while you’re there.

7. Check out the Mega Mall

There’s plenty to see and do at American Dream. Check out the Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park or indoor ice rink, the Dreamworks Water Park, the Legoland Discovery Center, and Sea Life Aquarium, and get a jump-start on the holiday season with plenty of high-end shopping.

8. Visit Hudson Yards

There are so many things to do in Hudson Yards, it’s a perfect way to spend an afternoon during Thanksgiving weekend. Marvel at the views from thrilling heights at Edge, take on a terrifying open-air climb from even higher, or just peruse the shops and marvel at its beautiful holiday lights.

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Best things to do in nyc during thanksgiving
The Union Square Holiday Market welcomes more than 160 vendors. Photo courtesy of Urbanspace

9. Support a Small Business

Skip the big-box stores and direct some of your holiday spending to your favorite local business. Park Slope marks Small Business Saturday with a holiday tree lighting and plenty of neighborhood cheer. Other options: Check out the booths at the holiday pop-up shops in Union Square, Bryant Park, Central Park, and more—many are owned by local artisans.

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10. Book a Tour

Whether you go by boat or double-decker bus, you just might learn something new on a tour of your hometown.

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Best things to do in nyc during thanksgiving
Dyker Heights is a destination for over-the-top decorated houses and Christmas cheer. Photo courtesy Dyker Heights Lights

11. View the Dyker Lights

There’s nothing quite like the spectacle that takes over the neighborhood of Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, each holiday season. Block after block is decorated with over-the-top twinkling lights. It’s a must-see marvel for city families.

12. See Midtown’s Holiday Windows

Our annual holiday windows walk is one of our favorite holiday traditions. The best part: It doesn’t cost a thing. Start at 59th Street and work your way down to Macy’s, where you can visit Santa and get your requests in early.

13. Scale the Skyline

Take the glass-enclosed elevators to the top of Summit One Vanderbilt and snap an only-in-NY holiday photo.

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Best things to do in nyc during thanksgiving
See the cool culinary creations at the Museum of the City of New York’s new gingerbread installation. Photo by Jody Mercier

14. Watch NYC’s Own Bake-Off

Marvel at the results of the Gingerbread NYC: The Great Borough Bake-Off, which asked bakeries from each borough to create a gingerbread display following the theme of Winter in New York. The sweet creations will be on display at the Museum of the City of New York through Sunday, January 8, 2023.

15. Take in the Trains

The beloved train show at the New York Botanical Garden amazes visitors of all ages, while the New York Historical Society’s antique display is chugging throughout the holiday season, too.

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16. Hop Aboard

Dive right into the holidays on this Santa Brunch Cruise featuring a three-course brunch, including bottomless drinks for parents. Kids can spend some quality time with Santa and the whole family can snap a photo with the city skyline as the backdrop.

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Best things to do in nyc during thanksgiving
Bring your family to celebrate the holiday season at Lincoln Center with The Nutcracker. Photo courtesy of the Nutcracker

17. See a Seasonal Show

It’s the opening weekend for The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center, plus a handful of other more kid-friendly iterations, the Rockettes are kicking at the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, which intros a new, tech-powered number this season, and A Sherlock Carol begins its annual off-Broadway run.

18. Run Away to the Circus

The Big Apple Circus returns to Lincoln Center for its 45th anniversary season, once again featuring the star power of Nik Wallenda and his talented friends and family.

19. Travel Back in Time

Revisit the thrilling saga of the famous ship at Titanic: The Exhibition. Using photographs, handwritten letters, and other personal belongings, the exhibition tells unforgettable stories about the fates and heroic deeds on board.

20. Get Out of Town

If you’re hoping for a quiet moment before the craziness of Christmas sets in, consider one of these picture-perfect seasonal day trips, ranging from Santa trains to Christmas lights and more low-key destinations.

Originally published in 2018.

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About the Author: Tung Chi