The Night Before The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade: Watch the Balloon Inflation

Get a sneak peek of the Macy's Day Parade & watching the balloons get inflated the afternoon before! Many PSP Members suggest this as a great alternative to the Parade watching experience.  Here are tips, information & more...

kermit the frog

Get up close to the Macy's Day Parade floats! Kids can see balloons like Kermit getting inflated (image via here)


When: Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving.

Where: The Natural Museum of History in the Upper West Side, 79th Street and Columbus Avenue. Viewing around Columbus Avenue, 77th Street, Central Park South and 81st Streets.


Baby Yoda inflation in 2021!


What PSP members say:

"My 12 year old and I went to the see the Thanksgiving balloons this year. Last time we went was about 10 years because we usually go to the parade.

We got there around 4:30 (definitely should have gone earlier before school let out) it took us almost 2 hours on the line just to get to the balloons. And another hour or so to see them all. Not sure if this was due to COVID restrictions or the norm. As I said it’s been quite a number of years since last time we went. We only saw a couple balloons getting blown up as most of them were already done.

Check in: Security glanced at our iD and vaccine card, but there were checking and told people about the wait and the fact there are no bathrooms along the way.

Thankfully it wasn’t freezing cold. Would possibly do it again because cool to see balloons up close. Recommend going earlier in the day when it’s still light out hard to see some of them in the dark.

Also want to add you will want to eat and of course go to the bathroom so important knowing where you want to eat before is key. Have a few choices in case places are too crowded." (2021)


"We went with my family of 5 (husband and 3 kids 3yo 2yo and 4 months. It was very organized but still a long wait. We arrived at 4 and waited 2 hrs to see the balloons. We were prepared though. Kids were in our wonderfold wagon and dressed in snow pants jackets hats and gloves. Brought a ton of snacks and drinks. Their travel potty was a must. We also parked on the east side with ease and walked across the park

The wait was long but we’ll worth it. The kids were thrilled to see Ada, Chase and Baby Yoda. We got a lot of great pics and had many laughs. Probably will do it again next year." (2021)


"We tried since we live on the UWS now and gave up before we managed to see anything. They were making everyone enter at 72nd & Columbus and it was an endless scrum of people moving between metal barricades at glacial speed - we waited 20 minutes or so and didn’t even get to CPW. Masks required, they checked vax cards and photo IDs, and everyone seemed in good humor - just very very crowded. We went around 3:00 - maybe it would have been better earlier?" (2021)


"We got off the subway at 72nd/CPW around 3:20 or 3:30pm. Everyone was directed to Columbus ave and It took maybe 20 minutes to get across 70th after getting off the subway and then up to 72nd. On 72nd between Columbus and CPW there was huge stream of people and they were checking vaccine cards and backpacks. I would say we got to 72nd CPW after around 20 minutes. Then, it took another hour to get up to the entrance on 77th because they weave you up and down between 75th and 72nd a few times.

We finally got to 77th and CPW to enter the balloon area around 4:50. So, all in….probably 90 minutes. It wasn’t terrible but lots and lots of people.

It was super fun to see. It was supposedly on from 12-6pm and I tried many times to find out what time the balloons were actually blown up — like could you have gone at 12:30pm and seen them all with less crowds….or would only a few have been blown up? But we didn’t get out of the house until 3ish so it didnt matter. But that would be good to know for next year!

My kids are 7 and 5 and loved it but wish I was there earlier - it got very dark quickly." (2021)


"It was a real scene, wow! We waited for about an hour in a looong corral that zigzagged up and back about 3 times from 72nd st to 75th st. They checked vaccine cards but you were kinda packed in.

The kids liked seeing the balloons and it was pretty cool but I’d put it on my 'happy I did it but only need to do it once' list along with New Years in Times Square." (2021)


"I've found that it's a great experience to go up to the Upper West Side the night before, on Wednesday, at around 6pm, to see them blowing up the balloons. Hopefully you get a half day on Wednesday and can take the kids up there. You can walk right up to the balloons, they're half inflated, and they're all on the street, on the south side of the Museum of Natural History. Your kids will love getting up close to the balloons, and you'll be able to avoid the insane crowds during the parade."


"You can watch the balloons being blown up in the school yard of PS 334 (the Anderson School), which is accessible from West 77th or West 76th Street between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenue on Thanksgiving eve."


"It used to be that the hot tip was to zip up to the Museum of Natural History to see the balloons being blown up the night before but this isn’t as easy as it once was."


“If you want to go, go as early as possible, before the after work crowd descends. It's really unbearable to try to go at the seemingly appropriate hour of six or seven.”


 "Go the night before and watching them blow up the balloons is also fun (and also crowded)..."


 "I strongly recommend skipping the parade craziness and going the night before to see the balloons being blown up."


Aaaand what about the stroller?

"The stroller made it impossible. I swear it was more crowded than the parade itself will be (probably not really, it just seemed that way). It was simply chaotic, and unless they have changed things up a bit I'd leave the stroller home if at all possible."


But another parent shares: "I have to report that I went, and I brought my stroller, and it was fine. I think the key was getting off at 72 street instead of 81. Had I gotten off at 81 it would have been impossible."