buzz-lightyear-balloonNew York City during the holidays is quite magical, the lights, the decorations, the nip in the air all adds to the allure. So if you are visiting New York City during Thanksgiving or deciding to have a staycation so as not have to deal with driving in traffic or body searches at the airports, here are five FREE  activities to consider  doing during the Thanksgiving Holiday

1. Watch the Macy’s Day Balloons Be Inflated
– Watching  the giant ballosns be inflated and come to life has to be every kids’s dream. That’s a memory they won’t soon forget. Balloon inflation takes place  in  front of the American Museum of Natural History at 77th Street and Central Park West. The ballons start being inflated around 2 – 3 p.m. and continue until 10 p.m .or so. Be forewarned, you will not be the only one who wants to do this so arrive early, if you can.

2. Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade
– Last year, one of my neighbors offered us tickets to the parade.  The one huge tip I learned is  that if you go to the beginning of the parade route at 77th Street and CPW  that even though you are out there at the crack of dawn, the parade will be over by 9:30 not noon as you would expect. That’s because  performers don’t actually perform until they get to the intersection of 34th and Broadway where the television crews are positioned. Click here for the parade route and for information about the parade.

ThePondBryantPark3. Free Ice Skating at Citi Pond Bryant Park – From now until February 27, 2011, admission is free at Citi Pond at Bryant Park with skates costing only $13 to rent. Lockers are free but you need to bring your own lock and there is a fee for back check so come prepared. This is a popular venue for skating because the admission is free so be advised to arrive early as it does crowded as the day goes on. But if you have a group, you can make reservations.  On Saturday, November 20 is Family Day celebrating the launch of the book Christmas Feet with an entire day of activities.   For details on the November 20th Family Day and ice skating information, visit After you have  finished skating, you can wander the holiday gift market for a bit of shopping. That’s free only if you don’t buy anything.

4. Rockefeller Center Tree – The Tree is not officially lit up until November 30 but you can still see it prior to the the lighting ceremony.

5. Department Store Christmas Window Display – One of the great joys to get you in the mood for Christmas is the visiting the department stores to see their Christmas Windows Displays. You can choose to see them by either taking your own walking tour starting at Bloomingdales and making your way to Macy’s or visit them on a one off basis based on your day’s itinerary. The uptown stores are Bloomingdales, Barneys and Bergdorf Goodmans, mid-twon store is Saks Fifth Avenue  and downtown stores  include Lord & Taylor and Macy’s.

NYC Single Traveling Mom also writes at her personal site