JFK airport around Thanksgiving is arguably one of the worst places to be as Manhattanites pack their bags and make their way back home for the long weekend. But here's the clincher: For those who stay, New York City takes on an almost magical life of its own around Thanksgiving. The streets are empty (and so are the best bars and restaurants) and glimmering under the holiday lights and decorations, and—if you're lucky—you might even get treated to the first dusting of snow.
But before you head out in Midtown and get stuck in Thanksgiving Day Parade traffic for hours on end, we handpicked a few activities that are perfect to indulge in over Thanksgiving weekend. From stellar dinner experiences with a view to the coziest cocktail bars, and from breathtaking performances to local Brooklyn markets, these are hands down the best things to do in NYC for Thanksgiving. We promise you won't regret staying local over the long weekend—and visitors will love these ideas too.
See the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall
Since 1932, the Rockettes have performed their annual Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall. Featuring over 140 performers, this impressive show features a mix of singing, dancing, and humor that will leave even the skeptics mesmerized.
Enjoy the Old School Charm of Bemelman's Bar
Bemelman's Bar is the place to hunker down and grab a drink when the city is empty and the weather is frightful. The Carlyle Hotel's piano bar features beautiful handpainted murals by Ludwig Bemelmans in a cozy atmosphere. The bar hosts live jazz shows most nights.
Stroll Around the Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar
If Brooklyn is more your speed, head over to Gowanus, where the Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar is hosted over Thanksgiving weekend. Bringing the best local talent under one roof, it's the perfect place to do some holiday shopping (and nosh on incredible local food while doing it).
Treat Yourself to a Feast at Manhatta
While Manhatta isn't your typical Thanksgiving fare, the newly opened Danny Meyers French restaurant perched at the top of 28 Liberty Street in FiDi offers an incredible dining experience at unbeatable views. Reservations can be hard to come across, but Thanksgiving is the perfect time to book ahead—as the city empties out for the long weekend.
Work Off the Turkey at Fithouse
If you've eaten your way through NYC all weekend, burn off some steam and calories at the new Fithouse in TriBeca. The latest workout craze to hit NYC, Fithouse is an all-class fitness club featuring great workouts in a stylish environment. We highly recommend our editors' favorite: Cardio Bounce.
Volunteer at Feeding NYC
Because Thanksgiving is also about being grateful for what we have and helping others who are more vulnerable, the long holiday weekend is the perfect time to do some volunteering. For over 17 years, Feeding NYC has delivered over 70,000 boxes filled with a frozen turkey all the fixings to cook a Thanksgiving meal to families in need in NYC. Find out how you can help.