When to watch
Though the parade technically kicks off on Thanksgiving morning, the shenanigans really start the evening before, when the massive balloons are ceremonially inflated outside the American Museum of Natural History. Kids, especially, adore watching as a 77-foot Power Ranger (the red one), SpongeBob, and countless more characters take shape in the sky -- so expect to have to jostle with strollers for a good view, and try not to make anyone cry. The whole thing runs from 3pm until 10pm, but visit around sunset for the optimal mix of balloon admiration, excitement at watching the actual inflation, and lingering warmth before dark.
Now for the actual parade. It starts at 9am, at 77th Street and Central Park West, and finishes up around noon down at Macy’s Herald Square. Head to your preferred viewing spot well ahead of time, so, you know, you can actually see something.