10 Socially-Distanced Ways to Celebrate Thanksgiving in NYC This Year

Look, just because we’re living in the dumpster fire of 2020 doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the holidays this year—Turkey Day included. That means connecting with friends and family (even if it’s just virtually), stuffing our faces with pie, counting our blessings and soaking up the best our city has to offer (from a six-foot distance, of course). Here are ten things to do if you find yourself spending Thanksgiving in NYC this year. Oh, and If you are celebrating Thanksgiving, consider donating to groups that support Native Americans such as The Association of American Indian Affairs and the Native American Heritage Association.

Editor’s note: Read up on the CDC guidelines for the holidays here and remember to practice social distancing protocols to limit the risk of Covid-19.

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1. Eat All The Foods

So you can’t go home and tuck into grandma’s famous stuffing this year. And that sucks. But look on the bright side—there are lots of great NYC restaurants offering Turkey Day spreads that range from traditional to globally inspired. Here are the best Thanksgiving takeout spots for you to enjoy a home-cooked meal (without having to wash a single dish). Oh, and don’t forget the pie.

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New York Botanical Garden

2. Check Out The Holiday Train Show

Marvel at the meticulously constructed cityscape at the Holiday Train Show, where the New York Botanical Garden will continue the magical annual tradition (albeit with limited capacity, so get your tickets early). Watch as trains zip through famous New York landmarks like the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, and the Rockefeller Center, all created from natural materials such as birch bark, acorns, and cinnamon sticks. And if you visit after November 26, you’ll also be able to enjoy NYBG Glow, an outdoor light experience that will illuminate the grounds, in addition to offering dance performances, ice carving demonstrations and other seasonal activities. Learn more about the attraction’s new safety measures here.

window shopping thanksgiving in nyc
SolStock/Getty Images

3. Go Window Shopping

Whether you’re planning on getting involved in the Black Friday action or not, checking out the many beautiful window displays is a great post-feast activity (just wear your mask and keep your distance, OK?). Macy’s will unveil its 2020 window theme on November 19. Called “Give, Love, Believe,” it's a tribute to first responders and New York City. And Saks Fifth Avenue will unveil its holiday display on November 23, only instead of one night of reveals, the store will host 20 separate ceremonies through December 23. Each night, they'll light up an individual window, advent calendar-style.

jacques torres thanksgiving in nyc
Jacques Torres

4. Drink And Be Merry

Whether it’s a PSL or a hot chocolate, a steaming cup of something delicious will keep you nice and toasty this Thanksgiving weekend. Pick up one of these hand-warmers and enjoy some window shopping (see note above) or a brisk walk through the park.

macys thanksgiving day parade thanksgiving in nyc
Noam Galai /Getty Images

5. Watch Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

No holiday tradition is more honored than the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and happily, the pageant of balloons, floats and performances is still happening this year—minus the crowds. Yep, the parade is going totally virtual this year, and you can catch the show on both NBC and CBS from 9 a.m. to noon on Thursday, November 26, in all time zones. Watching the parade from the comfort of our couch, wearing our jammies and sipping on hot cocoa or mulled wine (hey, it’s almost noon)? Honestly, this might be our favorite Thanksgiving yet.

dyker heights christmas lights thanksgiving in nyc
Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

6. Go See The Dyker Heights Christmas Lights

Starting the day after Thanksgiving, the homes in this Brooklyn neighborhood go all out, lighting up the streets with festive displays. Walk around the nabe and take in the magic—just be prepared to shield your eyes. (Seriously—the lights are so bright, you can probably see them from space.)

carriage ride central park thanksgiving in nyc
Bojan Bokic/Getty Images

7. Go For A Carriage Ride In Central Park

While the CDC hasn’t given out any recommendations for carriage rides, per se, their advice for hayrides this fall was to limit rides to a single household, so we assume that the same rules apply. Which means that we’re grabbing our coziest sweater and our quarantine partner so we can snuggle up with a horse-drawn carriage ride through Central Park.

8. See The Bronx Zoo Holiday Light Show

Kids from ages 0 to 99 will enjoy this seasonal celebration featuring animal lantern safaris, ice-carving demonstrations, holiday treats (hello, s’mores), costumed characters and more. Starting from November 20, visitors can take in the experience featuring animated lights and LED displays that this year. The festivities kick off on November 20 and will take place in a larger area of the zoo to allow for social distancing. Tickets required.

9. Check Out The Luminocity Festival

Another holiday light festival but this time, combined with an immersive art experience. LuminoCity will take place on Randall's Island from November 27 to January 10 and will feature light installations spanning several acres. While there’s plenty of space to roam the grounds without bumping into anyone, you’re going to want to get your tickets soon since they’re bound to sell out fast for Thanksgiving weekend.

10. Plan A Winter Weekend Getaway

In previous years, you would have hopped on a plane to someplace hot and fabulous as soon as temperatures began to drop. This year? Not so much. Instead, embrace the season with a charming winter weekend getaway near NYC. From cozy inns to mountain cabins, here are 22 inviting spots—all within a few hours’ drive of the city.

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Executive Editor

Alexia Dellner is an executive editor at PureWow who has over ten years of experience covering a broad range of topics including health, wellness, travel, family, culture and...