Stuck In the City: The 9 Best Things to Do in New York on Thanksgiving Weekend

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So! You’re in New York City for Thanksgiving. Lucky you! (Unless, you know, you’re here because you couldn’t get out, in which case, sorry, but still: lucky you!) But what does one do here for the next four days? How does one live in this city when almost everyone you know has gone somewhere else? Will you even survive? Of course, you will, ya dummy. Here’s ten great ways to spend your holiday weekend, all of which will leave you convinced that only suckers leave this town for the holidays, and that New York is always (pretty much) the best place to be.

1) Watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade: Look, you could do this in person tomorrow, but I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s going to be cold—super cold—though not raining or snowing, at least. But still, it won’t be worth it. It will be crowded and you’ll be surrounded by terrible kids who are whining about how cold they are and even worse parents who are bitter and resentful that their one attempt to do something to create lasting memories was a shitty one and so they are already promising themselves that they will never even try to do something nice for their ungrateful brats ever again. So, you know, don’t go there. But do watch it on TV in the morning. Keep the sound off. Drink your coffee. Maybe spike your coffee with something because, hey! It’s a holiday. And every once in a while look over at the TV and marvel at the talent and precision of all the high school bands and majorettes moving so beautifully in time with one another. Keep an eye out for the Tarpon Springs marching band, and then laugh because “Tarpon Springs” makes you think of “Tampon Strings.” Congratulations: your holiday weekend has begun.

2) Make a Fat Donation to the Charity of Your Choice: Hey, normally we’d say to go volunteer and deliver meals or work in a soup kitchen, and while we do think you should still do that at times other than this one single day a year, most Thanksgiving volunteer opportunities in New York are already filled. So why not make a donation? Like to, say, the Ferguson Library in Ferguson, Missouri? Or to somewhere local, like God’s Love We Deliver? There are tons of places that could use your help right now. So give it.

3) Get Off Your Ass and Ride: Want to feel like you’re doing something physically good for you before you get your gluttony on? Why not participate in a Thanksgiving Day bike ride? The NYC Pilgrim’s Pedal Thanksgiving Day Bike Ride is a 10-12 mile ride through Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens and is as good a way as any to start your day. It’s $25 per person, but that includes breakfast at a Brooklyn diner. Or, you know, just do you and get on your bike and do a ride around your neighborhood (or beyond) to get your day started off the right way.

4) Go See the Matisse Cut-Outs: Look, I won’t lie: I love Midtown. It’s the place where the essence of New York City is most perfectly distilled. Or, at least, a version of New York City. So what better place to go spend your Friday? (You know, you and a million other people, but whatever.) And while you’re in the best neighborhood ever, go to MOMA and check out the Mattise Cut-Outs. It’s every bit as good as you’ve heard it is. Just be smart about it and buy timed tickets ahead.

5) Sunshine Noir at BAM: No better time to indulge in a movie marathon than over a four-day weekend, right? And since New York is a frozen-ish tundra now, don’t you want to watch some films that will take you somewhere sunny and warm and… murder-y. I particularly recommend Who Framed Roger Rabbit? because, well, because of everything.

6) Small Business Saturday: Fuck Black Friday. Seriously. Fuck all displays of commercialism so crass that it pits customers against one another in some kind of frenzied death match where the only prize is a big-screen TV and a guaranteed loss of dignity. But. Well. We do recommend supporting local businesses, of which there are still plenty in Brooklyn. Go to your favorite or favorites. Buy stuff for yourself or others. Enjoy it. The end.

7) Eat the Opposite of Typical Thanksgiving Day Fare: So, it’s Saturday now, and aren’t you already super sick of carb-heavy, monochromatic cuisine? We thought so. Get yourself on over to some place serving wildly different cuisine—go get dim sum! eat dosa! drink green juice!—and go crazy. Your stomach will thank you.

8) Arlo Guthrie & the Guthrie Family’s Annual Thanksgiving Concert: This concert is taking place at Carnegie Hall (one of our all-time favorite places to see musical shows of any kind) on Saturday the 29th. It’s a wonderful celebration of the Guthrie family’s musical genius. We recommend you read this piece in which our own Margaret Eby spoke with Nora Guthrie about Woody Guthrie’s New York before heading over to see the show.

9) Ice Skating: You guys! It’s officially the holiday season! So go drink hot cocoa and be merry and also? Check out one of Brooklyn’s awesome ice skating rinks! There’s the still-feels-newly revamped Lakeside in Prospect Park and the similarly brand-spanking-new McCarren Rink in Williamsburg. Both are great options and will surely leave you feeling festive and with rosy cheeks and what else could you want really out of this long weekend? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

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