If you have little kids, or if you feel like you are a little kid (guilty as charged right here), get thee to the Upper West Side the day before Thanksgiving to watch the parade balloons come alive as they're being blown up.
To start, head to the American Museum of Natural History in the morning, as the balloon inflation takes place a few blocks away. To be frank, it's one of the best museums in the city, especially for the little ones. Make a day of it and check out the new wing, the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education and Innovation.
The balloon inflation starts at noon and lasts until 6 PM. You can enter this crazy, helium-filled circus at 72nd St, and Central Park West, and the balloon viewing path winds around the Museum of Natural History. Spectators can exit the viewing area at West 81st St. and Central Park West.
Insider tip? Take the subway. The traffic is a nightmare for this, but if you take the train, you're golden. A quick ride on the B or C train from the West 4th St. station near the hotel will put you right in the thick of it.
Be aware that large backpacks, coolers, alcoholic beverages, chairs and umbrellas are no-nos, and participants will be screened for those things.