Bucket List: Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade NYC, on points

by Anthony
0 comment
a large parade float with a large bird on top

Points Miles and Bling (blog) contains referral or affiliate links. The blog receives a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your continued support. Credit Card issuers are not responsible for maintaining or monitoring the accuracy of information on this website. For full details, current product information, and Terms and Conditions, click the link included.

One of the perks of being in the miles and points game is being able to tick things off your bucket list without breaking the bank. One annual event I’ve wanted to attend was the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, which runs on the morning of Thanksgiving Day (Thursday) in New York City (NYC), which is not a cheap city to visit, especially during the busiest holiday weekend in the USA. I unlocked this fantastic experience thanks to Points!

Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade NYC

The Parade first took place in 1924, making it the second-oldest Thanksgiving parade in the United States, after “America’s Thanksgiving Parade” in Detroit (four years younger than Philadelphia’s Thanksgiving Day Parade). The NYC parade starts at West 77th Street and Central Park West, just south of the American Museum of Natural History.

The Parade marches down Central Park West to 59th Street, then heads east to 6th Avenue and south along 6th Avenue to 34th Street and Herald Square (where Macy’s Department Store is located). If you can get there the day before, the balloon inflation viewing is also worth a view on Wednesday.

a large parade float with a large bird on top

Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade NYC 2023

Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade NYC – Booking a Hotel

I went online to see what hotels had the best views from the hotel of the Parade. This way, I didn’t need to walk up there to camp out early in the morning to get a good spot. After browsing online resources to determine the best hotels, I decided on the Residence Inn New York Manhattan Times Square at 1033 Avenue of the Americas (AKA 6th Avenue). It’s at 6th and 39th Street.

a building with a sign on the side

Marriott Residence Inn Manhattan

One place to avoid is 6th Avenue between 38th and 34th – Most of the Parade’s television broadcast happens here. This makes it virtually impossible to get even remotely close. So my hotel was a block away from this, which was good! Since it is the biggest holiday weekend in the US, getting a room on points would be challenging. The Residence Inn blocks out rooms that weekend as they have a special promotion for Thanksgiving where rooms with a parade view have to be booked directly with their sales department and can cost up to a whopping $2,200/night.

Booking a room for less than three nights from the Wednesday before Thanksgiving gave me an error message saying no rooms were available on the Bonvoy app. I had to request a minimum 3-night stay to see room availability. For 66,000 points a night, I got a Studio Queen room with a Sofa bed (320 sq ft). I used a free night award (for 85K) and used that toward this stay, so it only cost me 66,000 (x2) + my Free night award.

The cash rate for my three-night stay was $2,463. These were not the premium rooms the hotel blocks off for $2,200 a night. So, the redemption rate of the points was 1.24 USD cents per point, which wasn’t a bad use of Bonvoy points.

I did get a Suite night upgrade confirmation a week before upgrading to a King Suite, which is about 500 sq ft (180 sq ft bigger than my Queen Room), facing the NYC landmark, The Empire State Building. A parade route view costs $2,200 a night, and as mentioned earlier, it goes through the hotel’s sales department, so it is not eligible for a suite night upgrade. However, I tried to “suite talk” on the app before I arrived, though to no avail.

The other Marriot hotels, like the JW, which sounded like the best hotel for the Parade, appeared overpriced. Due to dynamic pricing, a redemption stay was 106,000 points a night.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade NYC – Flight Booking

This was the most straightforward part of the planning process. Direct flight options from Toronto (YYZ) to New York Laguardia (LGA) include Air Canada, American Airlines and Delta. I redeemed my Alaska miles, which cost 7,500 points and $70, in an economy cabin on American Airlines. I used RBC Avion Fixed Redemption for my return leg to book an Air Canada flight for 7,500 Avion points and $119 in taxes and fees.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade NYC – The day of

Since I did not get an upgrade to one of the $2,200/night rooms with a parade view with my Marriott Titanium status, I had to wake up early to see the Parade from street level, which, in my honest opinion, is the best way to see the Parade and feel the energy on the Street. If it’s your first time seeing the Parade, do it on the Street, you won’t regret it as I discovered! The Parade goes from 9 am – 12 pm. Since the hotel bumped up its breakfast start time from 6:30 am to 6 am for Parade day, I got out by 6:30 am, and there was already a crowd. I got a spot so close to the hotel that I still had free Wi-Fi from Residence Inn, so that’s how good a location this hotel is!

The earlier you get up, the better your spot. Before 6 am, most start taking their spot on 6th Avenue. One of the families I spoke to in front of me got to their spot at 4 am! I bought a portable collapsable telescopic stool from Amazon for $30. It is the size of a Roomba Vacuum in its collapsed size and fits perfectly in my backpack. It was perfect to sit on while I had to kill 3 hours before the Parade started. It was well worth the investment!

a black container with a strap

Throne Seat 😉

Other handy tips to consider;

  • Know your parade route and choose a spot accordingly.
  • Dress in layers, as NYC can be cold in November
  • You have 3+ hours to kill before the Parade starts after securing your spot. So make sure you have good phone chargers, snacks, drinks and entertainment to keep you busy
  • Avoid the subway on the morning of the Parade. Walk to your spot. Given that the walk is longer and there are road closures, it’s best to get a hotel on the parade route to minimize this.
  • Chairs are permitted. However, remember that as the crowd grows and the start of the parade inches closer, you’ll have to stand. When you stand, you’ll have to carry the chair, ditch it or prop it up against the barricade if you’re close enough. (You’ll also have to keep it as unobtrusive as possible to avoid angering the masses around you.) My collapsable stool from Amazon went back into my backpack.
  • Limit your beverage intake. There is nowhere to pee during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and you certainly will not be vacating the spot you woke up at 5 am for.
  • The Residence Inn does allow in and out privileges for guests who show their room key to use their bathrooms, but getting back to the spot you woke up so early for may not be there when you return. Luckily, the friends you make will hold your spot for you as many families I was surrounded by did go in and out of the hotel either for a coffee or a bathroom break : )

So, was it worth waking up early? I would say so. With clear blue skies, Mother Nature was definitely on my side. It started at 7 degrees as the Parade started and hit double digits by the end of it. How was the actual Parade, you ask?

The floats were spectacular, and the performers on street level were great! One highlight was The Tonight Show’s Jimmy Fallon and the Roots Band float, which stopped before me and conversed with the crowds for 2-3 minutes.

a man standing on a bridge

Jimmy Fallon at Macy’s Parade 2023

You would not get that performance in any of the $2,200/night rooms, as those views were of the floats and not the street-level views. So again, one highlight of lining up to see the Parade on street level was lining up to see the Parade on street level.

My favourite floats/performers that passed by :

a large yellow and blue balloon in a city



a group of people on a boat

Disney Cruise with Mickey and Minnie


a group of turtles on a building

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles


a large inflatable balloon in a city

Ronald McDonald


a man in a boat with a man in a sailor hat

Keenan Thompson from SNL


a balloon in the air

Baby Yoda

Adding honourable mentions for the following;

  • Sesame Street cast with Big Bird
  • Kungfu Panda
  • Pillsbury Dough Boy ( This brought back memories of Marshmallow Man from the Ghost Busters movie)
  • David Foster
  • and, of course, Santa and Mrs Claus at the end.

The crowd around me was already great to talk with. Got a few travel tips for future trips to the USA along the way. With it being the holidays, everyone was in a great mood, even on minimal sleep to get up to stand outside.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade NYC – Takeaway

Would I come back and pay almost $2,500 for a room with a view? No, because you miss out on what goes on at the street level and all the performers’ interactions with the crowds.

Would I stay at the Residence Inn again? Definitely!! Complementary breakfast is in the morning, and lounge is in the evening, with karaoke night on Fridays. Plus a Dunkin Donuts right next to it, anything more you need? 😊

So, if you want to head to the US for Thanksgiving, consider NYC; while it’s not the cheapest city to visit, it can be if you use your points correctly…

Other bucket list items I have been able to unlock with Points;

FIFA World Cup in Doha, Qatar with Aeroplan Points

The Roland Garros – French Open, in Paris France

Leave a Comment

You may also like