Month: August 2013

2013 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

thanksgiving parade nyc

It’s about that time of year that you’re making plans for the holiday season. Are you going to visit New York to see the tree? Should you fight the crowds to watch the ball drop in Time Square? Before we get carried away, why don’t we just slow down a little bit and talk Thanksgiving.

This year, Thanksgiving falls on Thursday, November 28. One of New York City’s greatest traditions is the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which is held every Thanksgiving morning and broadcast across the country. If you’re interested in attending the parade or just want to watch on TV, keep reading. We’re about to answer all of your parade questions.

What time does the parade start?

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade begins at 9 a.m. EST on Thanksgiving morning, November 28.

What route does the Thanksgiving Day Parade take through NYC?

The parade begins at 77th Street on Central Park West and travels down to the Macy’s flagship location on 34th Street. Use this picture via Google Maps as a guide:

Macy's Parade route

Do I need tickets to attend the parade?

Grandstand seating, which is where the performances take place, is only available to Macy’s employees and select charities. If you don’t fall into one of those categories, you are encouraged to line up anywhere else on the parade route where you will be able to see all of the floats, balloons and bands pass by.

Where is the best place to stand to watch the parade?

Per Macy’s:

Depending on your preferences, different areas make for the best viewing location. For example, early risers may want to camp out beginning at approximately 6am, along the west side of the street on Central Park West from 59th to 75th Streets to get the best spots for the start of the march. At this location, the Parade begins at 9:00am and runs through about 10:30am. For spectators who prefer to arrive later in the morning, further down the route on 6th Avenue may be the best option as the Parade does not reach portions of this area until about 9:30am. Viewing is not suggested on 6th Avenue between 34th and 38th Streets or in front of Macy’s Herald Square which provides very limited viewing due to the national television broadcast.

Can I watch the balloon inflation the night before the parade?

Of course you can! Balloons begin being inflated at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, November 27th. Head up to the American Museum of Natural History on 79th Street where you can view the balloons go from nothing into something incredible.

How can I participate in this year’s Thanksgiving Parade?

Macy’s accepts voluenteers every year to participate as balloon handlers, clowns, and more. Visit the parade website to apply now.

I don’t want to go to the parade, but I want to watch on TV. What channel will the parade be on?

The 2013 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will air on NBC from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m.

UPDATE: Who will be in this year’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?

The 2013 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade lineup has been announced, and though it is a living list, so far it looks fantastic. The parade will feature Balloons, Floats, Balloonicles, Marching Bands, Clowns, Novelty Balloons, and Performance Groups. As always, be on the lookout for Santa’s Sleigh at the finale of the parade.

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108 Things to Know if You’re Visiting NYC This Fall

autumn, nyc, new york city

We brought you a list of 107 things to know if you were visiting NYC this summer, and you loved it. So we put together an even bigger list for this fall. Some things still hold true, like our taxi hailing suggestions, but all in all it’s updated to reflect the next few months. Who’s excited to visit NYC!?

Food

  1. The Vendy Awards come to Brooklyn September 7
  2. The Prospect Park Food Truck Rally is on the first and third Sunday of every month until Oct. 20
  3. Smorgasburg is a great way to spend a weekend afternoon, runs through November 24
  4. Four star restaurants have long waiting lists. Make your reservations now.
  5. There are about 42 million fast food restaurants in NYC, but you shouldn’t go to any of them. At any given moment you will be within a 5 minute walk of low priced, better tasting burgers/chicken/tacos.
  6. Our dollar slices probably taste better than what you’re used to, but if you want really good pizza, the extra money is worth it.
  7. Don’t be afraid to try the pretzels at the hot dog stands
  8. Food trucks are awesome, try them!

Music

  1. Bryant ParkCity Park’s SummerStage still has a few more shows before the season ends
  2. Electric Zoo comes to NYC August 30-September 1
  3. The CBGB Music Festival is October 9-13
  4. Greenwich Village is known for having great live music
  5. Madison Square Garden reopens this fall with some bigtime headliners, including Ed Sheeran and The Eagles
  6. The Barclays Center, The Garden’s Brooklyn counterpart, hosts some of the biggest names in Music this fall, including Selena Gomez and Justin Timberlake
  7. The Barclays Center also hosts its first ever hockey game on September 21, when the Islanders and Devils square off

Arts

  1. Many Museums, including the American Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, have a suggested donation to enter, but you don’t have to pay anything at all. If you can afford to, you should pay the requested amount so that these museums will continue to be some of the best in the world.
  2. The Intrepid is a museum on an aircraft carrier, which is awesome
  3. Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is free every Friday afternoon
  4. MoMa also has 11 new exhibitions planned for this fall, including Images of an Infinite Film
  5. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is known for its unique building and is also a landmark of NYC
  6. The Guggenheim has three new exhibitions launching this fall, including Robert Motherwell: Early Collages
  7. Brooklyn Museum also has five new exhibitions planned for the fall
  8. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has seven new exhibitions launching this fall, including Medieval Treasures from Hildesheim
  9. The Met is also now open seven days a week
  10. There are like, a bazillion museums in NYC, not just the couple we named. You should check out as many as you can while in the city.
  11. Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts has a lineup of amazing concerts, plays, and films throughout the fall

The Holidays

  1. The Holiday Season begins sooner in NYC than in other places. We get really into it.
  2. Somewhere between October and November, it starts getting cold in NYC
  3. The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony will be held on December 4
  4. The Tree Lighting begins at 8 p.m., but if you want to see it in person you should find a spot by 3 p.m. that day
  5. The tree will remain lit every day from 5:30 a.m. until 11:30 p.m., except Christmas and New Year’s Eve which have special hours
  6. The Tree will remain lit until January 7, 2014
  7. The Holiday Lights Tour begins December 3
  8. The Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall with the Rockettes begins showing on November 8
  9. The Holiday Shops at Bryant Park return in October

Thanksgiving

  1. Thanksgiving is on November 28 this year
  2. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade begins at 9 a.m.
  3. The Parade travels from the American Museum of Natural History down to Herald Square
  4. Watch the balloons for the Thanksgiving Day Parade get filled the evening before parade day at 3 p.m.
  5. Tickets for grandstand seating at the Parade are provided to Macy’s employees and charitable organizations only, not the general public
  6. You can volunteer as a balloon handler in the Parade
  7. Black Friday is one of the best days for shopping around NYC, but you also might want to visit Woodbury Commons for some incredible deals

thanksgiving parade nyc

Shopping

  1. 5th Avenue has top of the line products, and prices to match
  2. SoHo has less expensive clothing stores and trendy boutiques
  3. Chinatown has incredibly cheap prices, and products to match
  4. Union Square is one of the most popular places to shop.
  5. Greenwich Village is filled with designer labels.
  6. Herald Square has almost every chain store there
  7. Macy’s on 34th Street is the world’s largest department store and a registered NYC landmark.

Parks

  1. Central Park is the largest park in Manhattan, but the 5th largest in NYC.
  2. Brooklyn Bridge Park has an incredible view of the Manhattan Skyline.
  3. Riverbank State Park is a great park too including a gym, pool, places to barbecue, and kids facilities
  4. The High Line is an old elevated railway converted into a park
  5. Battery Park has a beautiful waterfront, and is where you pick up the ferry to the Statue of Liberty
  6. All of NYC’s parks are free to enter
  7. Bryant Park has a reading room, ping pong, games, carrousel, free ice skating and chess.
  8. Here’s a list of parks with free WiFi
  9. Washington Square Park has never a dull moment with constant entertainment to enjoy like break dancers and artists.
  10. The parks are closed from 1 a.m. til 5 a.m., unless otherwise specified. Breaking this curfew will get you a $40 ticket

Transportation

  1. The subway costs just $2.50 per ride, and can get just about anywhere in the city.
  2. Save your metro card because it’s a $1 additional fee for a new one
  3. If you’re staying for a week, you should buy a 7-Day Unlimited Pass which is good for unlimited subway and local bus rides for $30.
  4. The subway runs 24 hours a day and 7 days a week
  5. When waiting for the train, stand behind the yellow platform edge strip.
  6. Don’t try to hold the door on the subway. People will hate you.
  7. Don’t block the doorway on the subway. People will hate you.
  8. Let people off the train before getting on.
  9. If all of the subway cars are crowded except for one, which is empty, get on the crowded car.
  10. You read that right, don’t get on the empty car. There’s a reason it’s empty.
  11. Be aware of your surroundings
  12. Trains usually run local or express, so if you are unsure you may want to ask a person or choose a local train
  13. Make sure you know exactly where you’re going before you swipe your card, you can’t get a refund using the subway.
  14. It can become very crowded on the trains. You will be surprised of the capacity.
  15. If you want a taxi cab, stick out your arm
  16. Taxis tend to go out of service around the afternoon rush. Plan accordingly.
  17. When catching a taxi you should get one in the direction you are going, it will save time and money
  18. The Staten Island Ferry is free

Attractions

  1. The Empire State Building has observation decks on the 86th and 102nd floors providing one of the best views in Manhattan
  2. The Statue of Liberty is now open and you can walk from the ground floor all the way to Lady Liberty’s crown that provides you with an amazing view of the city
  3. Ellis Island has remained closed since Hurricane Sandy
  4. Apollo Theater in Harlem is one of Harlem’s landmarks and offers Amateur Night on Wednesdays
  5. Botanical Gardens provide family activities and hands on gardening, too
  6. Flatiron Building has a lobby where you can see historic photographs and notes hanging from the wall
  7. Yankee Stadium has a museum in the stadium as well as Monument Park, providing fascinating history of the team

Pro-Tips

  1. avenue of the americasEven numbered streets run east
  2. 5th Avenue is considered the center of the city. Any address like E. 42nd street is east of 5th, and address like W. 42nd street is west of 5th
  3. 6th Avenue also goes by Avenue of the Americas because of the statues on Central Park South where it meets 6th
  4. The numbers on the lights in Central Park refer to the closest cross street
  5. When hailing a taxi
  6. If it’s sunny and raining, that’s probably air conditioner sweat, and you should move
  7. Download a city/subway map to your phone. One less awkward thing to carry, and you don’t have the “tourist” look every time you need directions
  8. It’s safe to get lost on the street on New York, it’s fun in any neighborhood and you get a chance to explore parts that a tour guide wouldn’t typically show you.
  9. If you happen to see a person having trouble standing because of age or an infant, the subway etiquette is to give up your seat.
  10. Be prepared to do the most walking you ever done in your life. Wear comfortable shoes.

Miscellaneous Tips and Facts worth knowing

  1. Don’t forget to take pictures of things. NYC is a beautiful city and worth sharing with your friends back home.
  2. When you take these pictures, if you abruptly stop walking in the middle of the sidewalk, people like you a little less. Don’t do that.
  3. Try not to text while walking.
  4. Think of walking like driving: If you’re going to walk slowly, stay to the right. If you want to walk fast you can “pass” on the left. The same rule applies for standing on escalators.
  5. Always carry some cash. You won’t need it everywhere, but you will need it more than where you’re from (probably)
  6. Tipping for quality service is a nice thing to do, and being nice is totally awesome
  7. Remember New York City can be very expensive, so spend wisely so you can be able to see a lot of what New York has to offer
  8. New York City is divided into five boroughs-Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, The Bronx, and Staten Island
  9. Streets run east/west, avenues run north/south (in Manhattan)
  10. SoHo is south of Houston (pronounced HOUSE-ton) Street
  11. TriBeCa is the Triangle Below Canal Street
  12. If you ever need help with something, just ask someone. Contrary to popular belief, New Yorkers tend to be very nice
  13. Don’t worry about the cat in the bodega, it’s there for your benefit
  14. Be prepared to see anything on the streets on NYC.

Take Advantage of Labor Day in NYC

brooklyn bridge

Labor Day is a lot like Memorial Day in New York City. As the latter marks the unofficial beginning to the summer, Labor Day is the sad, unofficial end to the summer. Yeah, technically summer doesn’t end until late September, but once the first Monday of the month comes to pass, our minds are already shifting to fall.

Labor Day is also a lot like Memorial Day in that it’s a getaway holiday for most of us who live here. We have a long weekend and we typically use it as our last chance to head down the Jersey Shore or out to the Hamptons for one last hurrah of summer beach fun. This is good news for those of you thinking of visiting Manhattan for Labor Day Weekend because it means that the city will be empty for your sightseeing pleasure.

Here are our tips on taking advantage of the locals heading out of town and leaving the city in your hands for three days:

  • Walk the Brooklyn Bridge

The only annoying part of walking the Brooklyn Bridge is the crowds that you have to fight to do so. With locals out of town, the walkway shouldn’t be too bad.

The Reservoir in Central Park is a prime running spot for locals. It has a great track, beautiful views and never really gets too crowded. With all of the locals out of town, you’ll have open space for days.

The High Line Park is a popular spot for those who live in The Village, but most tourists visiting don’t even know about it. Head over to the West Side park for a very cool experience.

Less people means less traffic, less traffic means more fun. Labor Day Weekend is the final weekend of the unofficial summer, and one of the best weekends to take a tour.

So, what are your plans for Labor Day? Are you making like a local and heading to the beach, or are you going to take advantage of our great city? Let us know in the comments!

Watching the US Open in NYC

us open

Tennis fans from around the world will soon descend upon New York City for our nation’s premiere event, the US Open. If you haven’t planned out your tennis watching schedule yet, let us help.

First, the pertinent info:

  • The US Open begins on Monday, August 26 and concludes on Monday, September 9
  • All US Open matches are played in Flushing Meadows Park in Queens
  • The easiest public transportation to Flushing Meadows is the 7 train, which leaves from Times Square and Grand Central Station among others locations.

So, you love tennis and want to watch? Here are some suggestions:

  • The Qualifying Tournament (August 20-23) is completely free
  • August 25 is Practice Day for the top players, and is also free
  • Tickets are on sale now, but only individual tickets remain

See you at the court!

Image via usopen.org

Tweet to Win a Chance For Your Family to Meet The Wiggles!

the wiggles

Do your kids know how to make fruit salad? Tweet us a picture/video of you and your family making a fruit salad and you might win a chance to meet The Wiggles on a Gray Line New York double-decker bus! Five lucky parents will get to bring their children for VIP access meet The Wiggles with Gray Line New York and win autographed copies of the new Wiggles “Taking Off” CD!

How to Enter:

  • Tweet a picture or video showing us how much fun you and your family has while making fruit salad
  • Make sure you use the hashtag #WigglesGLNY and be sure to follow @GrayLineNewYork and @TheWiggles

Contest Timeline

  • August 9th: Contest opens up for entries on twitter
  • August 13th: Contest closes for entries on twitter
  • August 13th: The 5 winners will be announced
  • August 16th: The Wiggles will invite these lucky winners onto a double decker bus at Pier 78 to sing, dance and take pictures together

Prizes

  • 5 winners will be selected to get VIP access to meet The Wiggles with Gray Line New York
  • Winners will also have a chance to win autographed memorabilia
  • Each winner will get a chance to meet and take pictures with The Wiggles
  • Each of the 5 winners are allowed to bring up to two children with them to meet The Wiggles
  • One lucky winner’s name will be drawn to win a family four pack of tickets to the New York City, Westbury, NY or Rahway, NJ show.

So get out there and start making your fruit salad! If you need some inspiration, just watch the video below:

2013 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting

rockefeller-center-christmas-tree-ny

Will you be in New York for the holiday season? What’s Christmas in the Big Apple if you don’t visit the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree . This year the ceremonial lighting will take place on the evening of Wednesday, December 4th, 2013 and will mark the event’s 81st anniversary.  The famous tree will remain lit and be viewed into the New Year until 11 p.m. on Tuesday, January 7, 2014.

New York looks even better at night with breathtaking lights.  If you’re going to be in Manhattan this winter, don’t forget to check out our Holiday Lights tour, which starts in November.

The event is a free event and you do not need tickets to attend.  Be sure to show up early to get the best spots!

This year’s ceremony will feature performances from Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Kelly Clarkson, Ariana Grande, Jewel, Leona Lewis, The Rockettes and more! The ceremony will be aired live on NBC at 8 p.m. EST

Celebrate Christmas in August With The Rockettes and Gray Line New York

rockettes

Christmas is just too good of a feeling to only experience it in the winter. You don’t have to wait until December; only in New York can you watch the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall this summer on August 13th! The “Christmas in August” celebration of the 2013 Radio City Christmas Spectacular production will make you feel like a kid again, and the only thing missing is the snow. The breathtaking performances by the Rockettes begin at 11 a.m. in Times Square. Radio City’s Santa Claus will be in attendance too coming straight from the North Pole to the Big Apple.

It gets better! We’ll be sharing the Christmas spirit too. The Rockettes will be traveling around NYC on our Gray Line New York red double decker bus! Fans will be able to see them as they stop by several locations including Radio City Music Hall, Bryant Park, Madison Square Park, the Beacon Theatre, Union Square, and Park Slope.

So bring the family, and enjoy the holiday season in the summer heat! But remember to tell the kids to save the wish list until December!