Virtual Tours of 7 Zoos Around the World

Virtual Tours of 7 Zoos Around the World

I absolutely love zoos.  I know zoos are pretty controversial, one side I guess you could call them the “Free Willy” side demonize zoos as being filthy cages where animals are mistreated and neglected; then there’s the other side who point out that well designed and well run zoos act as shelters for abused animals, saved some animals fro extinction, and have educated the public to respect and admire animals.

I really can’t say for sure which side is absolutely right, that’s a debate I’ll leave for the experts.  But I can say that most of us if we think about it fall somewhere in the middle, I know I do.  Of course I find zoos that are filthy and disgusting, those that neglect or mistreat animals abhorrent.  What to do about them is beyond me other than to redesign them to be more humane and to replace staff with caring professionals and volunteers; but turning those poor animals loose in the wild I doubt is the answer.

But on the other hand I’ve visited quite a few zoos that are beautifully designed, have caring and knowledgeable staff, and have educational programs that help endangered species, and provide safe shelter for abused or displaced animals.  In short these zoos help many animals that would have been destroyed otherwise or may have gone extinct if not for the zoo’s research and breeding programs.  There are many such zoos around the world.

These days due to the pandemic many of us will not be traveling far so visiting a zoo that’s not in driving distance will have to wait.  But with the aid of technology there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy some of the best zoos in the world thru a webcam or a virtual tour.  Here are some of the best zoos you can visit from the comfort and safety of your home!

Singapore Zoo

The Singapore Zoo is located in a rain forest not far from the city.  It’s a wonderful zoo.  We had the pleasure of visiting this zoo and going on the night time safari it was awesome!

Click here for the virtual tour!

 

San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo is one of the top zoos in the world, it’s one of our favorites!

It’s a huge zoo with many amazing exhibits.  Here’s the website that has a list of all the webcams around the zoo.

 

 

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Located on Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs this zoo is built along the side of the mountain.  It’s one of my favorite zoos.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is one of the top zoos in the US.  The Giraffe enclosure greets visitors to this zoo.  It’s an amazing way to get up close and personal with these tall animals.

The zoo has several webcams, it’s most popular is the Giraffe Webcam.  Click here for the website where you’ll find the Giraffe Webcam as well as other webcams and virtual activities.

 

 

Zoo Atlanta

Accredited by AZA Zoo Atlanta is located in Grant Park in Atlanta, Georgia.

It is home to a couple of delightful Giant Pandas.  There are webcams for virtual visits!

Click here for the website!

 

Welsh Mountain Zoo

Welsh Mountain Zoo is among the 15 Best Zoos in the world according to BestProducts.com.

It certainly looks like it’s filled with happy critters!

Click here for the site!

 

Australia Zoo

This was where you could find the late “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin.

Today his family is very active at this zoo.  It features many animals from around the world and of course the critters from down under.  Explore the zoo with his son Robert on this virtual tour!

The National Zoo

The National Zoo located in the suburbs of our nation’s capital is another favorite zoo.

They have many webcams around the zoo featuring different critters.  The most popular of course is the Giant Panda!  Click her for webcams!

 

Virtual Tours of the World’s Iconic Sights

Virtual Tours of the World’s Iconic Sights

In the not too distant past, like just 3 or 4 months ago traveling was part of our lives.  That is until the pandemic forced many of us to stay at home, and many of us are still under shelter in place orders.  And even if we’re not how many of us are willing to venture out and take our usual summer vacations?

I know I’m not and neither are most of my friends and family.  But with the aid of technology we can still get together for birthdays, graduations, and visits albeit virtually on our computer, tablet, or phone screens.

Technology allows us to virtually be with friends and family and it also allows us to “explore” the world from the safety and comfort of our homes.  Of course it’s not the same as climbing to the crown of the Statue of Liberty or taking the elevator up the Eiffel Tower, but Youtube, Google, and other platforms can be the next best thing to being there.

Virtual tours provide a great opportunity to see the world during these uncertain times, and they can be a starting point for teaching kids about history, cultures, arts, and sciences. It’s like going on a field trip!

So here’s a list of some of the world’s iconic landmarks and attractions that  you and your kids can “visit”.  Enjoy your tours!

The Statue of Liberty

This virtual tour by the National Park Service takes you around the island and to the crown.  It’s a great tour.

Virtual tour click here!

The Great Wall of China

The wall is a spectacular site!

Virtual tour click here!

The Great Pyramid

Of the 7 Wonder of the Ancient World the Great Pyramid is the only one left standing.  It’s just one of the pyramids of Egypt that offers a virtual tour.  Explore one or all by clicking here!

The Great Sphinx

Another Egyptian icon is the Great Sphinx. Find out more about this mysterious monument on this virtual tour!

 

Pompeii

A must see site around Naples, Italy is the vast ruins of Ancient Pompeii.  This virtual tour takes you thru some of the discoveries archaeologists have made at the excavation.   Click here for the virtual tour!

Delphi

Home to the Temple of Apollo and the legendary  Oracle of Delphi this ancient site on Mt. Parnassus was a very important place in antiquity.  Click here for the virtual tour!

Ephesus

This ancient city located in Turkey’s Ionian coast near the modern day city of Selcuk was the main commercial center in the Mediterranean during the Roman Empire.  Due to flooding the city was moved several times in ancient history thus the excavations wish began in 1895 covers a huge area.  These excavations reflect centuries of history from classical Greece to the Roman Empire and on to the spread of Christianity.  Many of the structures unearthed in the area by Selcuk are in excellent condition.  The structures in the Ephesus  Archaeological Museum including the Terrace Houses have frescoes so vivid it looks like they were painted recently!

Click here for the virtual tour!

The Acropolis

The word Acropolis literally translates to “the edge of the city”.  This “city” which sits atop a low hill dominates the Athenian skyline.  Its most iconic building acts like a sentinel guarding the city sprawled at its feet.  The hill has been a place of residence since 4000 B.C. but became a sacred site in 800 B.C. when it became a place of worship for the goddess Athena who was the protector of the city of Athens.

The Acropolis is actually a complex with several sacred buildings, temples and altars dedicated to the goddess.

Click here for the virtual tour!

Delos

The island of Delos was one of the most important places in Ancient Greece.  It has temples honoring the birth place of the twin god and goddess Apollo and Artemis.  It was a pilgrimage site before the birth of Christ.  It was an import sacred and commercial city during classical Greece and a major trading city during Roman rule.

Click here for the virtual tour!

Hagia Sophia

This vast domed monument’s name means “Holy Wisdom”.  It was built in then Constantinople, modern day Istanbul, in the 6th. Century A.D.   by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I.  It was originally built as a cathedral and was an important part of Byzantium religious and political life.  It was later transformed into a Mosque in 1453 during the reign of the Ottoman Empire.  Then in 1935 it was turned into the Museum it is today by the founder of modern Turkey, Kemal Ataturk who strove to build a secular country on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire.

Click here for the virtual tour!

Petra

Recently added to the New Wonders of the World list Petra is an ancient Nabatean City built along the walls of a a desert gorge in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.  It is a spectacular site starting from the entrance which passes thru the Siq, a narrow path threading its way thru rock formations, wall carvings, and even water channels that brought water into the city during ancient times.  The Siq ends in front of Petra’s most popular building the Al Khazneh or the Treasury, the building featured in the Indiana Jones movie the Last Crusade.  Nothing beats actually walking thru the Siq and scrambling around this vast ancient city, but this virtual tour is pretty cool!  Click here for the virtual tour!

The Colosseum

Built during the reign of Rome’s Flavian emperors the Colosseum is a huge structure that provided entertainment for the citizens of ancient Rome.  It was the venue for Gladitor games, mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions, and dramas.  It is situated in the heart of modern day Rome along side triumphal arches, the Roman Forum, Trajan’s Market, and the Temple of Vesta.  Click here for the virtual tour!

Versailles

The Palace of Versailles was the principal royal residence of France for over a hundred years from the reign of Louis XVI until the French Revolution.  It is a luxurious complex with smaller villas, gardens, and fountains built around the main palace.  It’s a wonderful place to visit whether in person or in VR.  Click here for the virtual tour!

The Eiffel Tower

Designed and built in 1887 by Gustav Eiffel for the Paris Exposition of 1889 the tower has become a symbol of Paris.  This iconic tower is situated on the Champ de Mar.  Climbing to one of the observation platforms is an experience and dining at one of the restaurants is amazing.  But you can still explore this beautiful tower from the comfort of home by clicking here for the virtual tour!

If you enjoyed your virtual tours of these iconic sites you might want to check out some museums.  Virtually of course!  Click here for a list of some popular museums you may want to explore.

 

Virtual Tours of Museums Around the World

Virtual Tours of Museums Around the World

For the last couple of months museums around the world have been closed due to the pandemic lock downs.  Most folks under stay at home orders are looking for ways to spend the day and in many cases home school the kids.

No one really knows when things will begin to reopen and when it will be safe for us to venture out again.  In these uncertain times we don’t know when we can travel further than our local grocery stores and possibly malls.  But staying at home doesn’t mean we can’t visit our favorite places around the world or find new ones to explore.

With the help of technology we can travel the world and visit world class museums around the world!  Just because they’re closed doesn’t mean we can’t still enjoy the art work displayed in their galleries.

Of course it’s not the same as traveling to these countries and viewing the artwork in person.  But in these trying times virtual museum tours have given me a break from the bleak news that is broadcast on the TV and social media.  A little beauty always brightens the day!

Here are just a few of my favorite museums that you can enjoy from the comfort of you living room couch. You can even visit them with your kids; it’s a great way to introduce them to different artists and media.  My grandson Devon and I have spent some time together exploring the galleries and I even encourage him to create his own art work based on some of the works he’s seen at these wonderful museums.

The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao

Situated on the banks of the Nervion River in Bilbao, one of the largest cities in Spain’s Basque Region the Guggenheim Museum has become an icon of the region.

Designed by Frank Gehry and opened in October 1997.  The building itself is a work of art.  It is a masterpiece of modernism making it the perfect place to showcase contemporary works of art.

A virtual tour of this museum is sure to land it on your travel bucket list.  So settle down with a glass of Riojas (red wine) and an assortment of Pinchos (appetizers) and enjoy this awesome museum.

Virtual tour here!

The British Museum

This is one of my favorites.  Located on Great Russell St.  in Bloomsbury, London, the British Museum is a must see.  Founded in 1753 the museum is home to a variety of artwork from around the world as well as the Reading Room located in the center of the great court.

Among the must see attractions of the museum are the Elgin Marbles, a collection of beautiful marble statuary and reliefs acquired by Lord Elgin from the Athen’s Parthenon in the 19th. Century; the Rosetta Stone which held the key that allowed modern humans to unlock ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphics; this crystal skull; and the Moai, the huge sculpted head from Easter Island.

Virtual tour here!

Musee d’Orsay

Housed in the former Gare d’ Orsay (train station) which was built in 1899 for the Universal Exhibition of 1900 this museum is a must see for fans of Impressionist artists.

This museum is home to artwork by Manet, Monet, Van Gogh, Degas, Renoir, and other great impressionist artists.  I’m a huge fan!

Monet’s Water Lily’s, Van Gogh’s Self Portrait, Manet’s Olympia, and Degas’ Little Dancer  statue are just a few of the great works of art in this museum.  So sit down with a nice glass of French wine and a cheese board of French cheeses and enjoy this delightful museum.

Virtual tour here!

The Louvre

Since you’re in Paris visiting the D’Orsay you can continue on to the Louvre.  This museum is the world’s most visited museum, trust me the crowds shuffling thru the halls is a testament to this claim.  But with the world social distancing the best way to see this popular museum is on a virtual tour; no masks, no gloves; and no crowds!

The Louvre is home to Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa as well as other Renaissance Masters including Botticelli, Raphael, Giotto, and Titian.  The Venus de Milo and the Winged Victory statues also call the Louvre home as well as a fine collection of Egyptian antiquities.  It would take days if not weeks to walk the collections housed in this fine museum, but you can see all the highlights from the comfort of your home.

Virtual tour here!

The Vatican Museums

The highlight of the Vatican Museums is arguably the famous Sisitine Chapel whose ceiling is a masterpiece by Michelangelo.  But there is so much more to see.

You’ll find the famous winding Bramante Staircase here.  You can also marvel at Raphael’s famous mural called School of Athens, it’s one of my favorites! Then there are the maps, tapestries, statues, and paintings.

So settle down with a fine glass of Frescati and a pizza and enjoy this wonderful museum!

Virtual tour here!

National Archaeological Museum of Athens

This historic building is located in Athens, Greece.  It is home to some amazing archaeological finds including classical Greek statues and bronzes, the Antikythera Mechanism is an ancient hand powered “analog computer”, and golden items such as death masks like the mask of Agamemnon.

So grab some bread and a dish of Tzatziki and a glass of Assyrtiko (white wine) and enjoy these ancient wonders.

Virtual tour here!

Egyptian Museum in Cairo

My grandson loved our virtual tour of this museum.  He found the mummy room amazing, as I did when I was actually visiting this museum several years ago.

The museum is famous for its mummies, of course, and it’s King Tut Exhibit.  But it houses a huge assortment of artifacts found in archaeological sites around the country.  You’ll see stone sarcophagi, Egyptian tablets, statues, reliefs and so much more.

So sit down with a plate of mezzes or a falafel sandwich and enjoy the wonders this museum has to offer.

Virtual tour here!

 

Best Family Christmas Vacations

Best Family Christmas Vacations

Our family has a whole set of Christmas traditions, one of them is opening presents at our home on Christmas morning.  Even tho my kids are grown with families of their own those that live in town and those that came home for the holidays still open presents at my house.  Those unable to come home for Christmas open presents with those that are  here thanks to the magic of technology.

Every now and then we decide to do something different, we travel.  We usually leave Christmas evening.  This allows us to open presents together Christmas morning and also take advantage of the cheaper airfare that’s available for traveling on the holiday.  Air fares are very expensive just before and just after the holiday, but drastically drop on the holiday itself as no one wants to travel that day.  It’s always a pleasure to travel on Christmas and New Year’s day, flights are pretty empty and flight attendants more pleasant.

There are many great places to spend the holidays with kids.  Many places have fantastic Christmas displays and host many seasonal events.  Here are a few places you might want to visit during Winter Break, some may even be close enough to drive to thus eliminating costly airfare and the crowds at the airports.

1.

Hershey Park, Hershey, Pennsylvania – Billed as “The Sweetest Place on Earth”, Hershey Park is a popular theme park year round it’s even more fun during the holidays.  Lots of holiday events going on including dining with Santa, Sweet Lights a drive-thru spectacular, Christmas Candy Lane, ice skating, Gingerbread Tea, Dinner Theater Shows, and more.[spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

 

 

2.  Visit Santa’s Workshop, where else but in North Pole, NY.  Just minutes fro Lake Placid, New York families have visited the Workshop since 1949.  Experience the magic of an old-fashioned Christmas in this fairytale setting.  Meet Santa and his reindeer, tour the village and shops, ride Christmas themed rides, and more.

 

 

3.  Santa Claus, Indiana – “America’s Christmas Hometown” has lots of events this season including meals with Santa, Chestnut Roasting, Children’s Craft Time, and more.  Click here to see their event schedule this year.[spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

 

4.  Experience a Traditional Christmas on the Cape at Chatham Bars Inn in Cape Cod.  2014 marks the Inn’s 100th. Anniversary.  They are hosting many seasonal events including Elsa & Friends Enchanted Wonderland for Frozen fans, Gingerbread House Workshops, and their annual Sno BBQ on December 26.  Click here for their event schedule.  [spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

 

 

Woodloch Resort Holiday Weekend

5.  Enjoy an Old-Fashioned Christmas at one of Pennsylvania’s all-inclusive resorts in the Pocono Mountains.  Olde-Fashioned Holiday at Woodloch Resort and Old-Fashioned Christmas at Mohonk Mountain House  offer many seasonal activities including caroling, holiday scavenger hunts, visits with Santa and more.[spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

 

6.  Christmas in Cambria, California.  During the holidays the stretch of California’s highway 1 between San Francisco and Los Angeles turns into a lighted village filled with story-book charm.  Stroll the town and visit many galleries and shops to shop for unique one of a kind items.  Enjoy your Holidays in The Pines.  Click here for events in the area.

 

7.  ICE! the award-winning icy attraction and Christmas celebrations at 4 Gaylord Resorts:  National Harbor, Maryland; Kissimmee, Florida; Nashville, Tennessee; Grapevine, Texas.
During this season  resorts guest will enjoy lights, Christmas trees, snow tubing, character meals, and more.

 

8.  Set sail for the holidays on Disney Cruiseline’s Very MerryTime Cruises.  Disney cruises are always fun, even more so with these holiday enhancements onboard:
Other holiday enhancements include:

  • Deck the Deck Tropical Holiday Party, a celebration in addition to Pirate Night, with candy-cane limbo, dancing and games
  • Tree Lighting Ceremony, where kids can help light the tree and kick off the holiday festivities
  • Santa Claus meet-and-greet, an exciting opportunity to take family pictures and see Santa and his elves
  • Meet-and-Greets with some favorite Disney Characters, dressed in their holiday attire
  • Teen-only and tween-only holiday parties—private celebrations where teens and tweens can hang out with new friends
  • Holiday storytelling, with new and old tales about holidays at sea and around the world
  • Themed activities and crafts for kids—decorate stockings, make holiday cards, go on a holiday scavenger hunt and more
  • A life-sized gingerbread house made completely with edible ingredients—and the opportunity to make your own gingerbread house*

Plus, on December 24 and 25, enjoy additional holiday experiences:

  • Cookies on Christmas Eve
  • Special holiday towel animals
  • Special holiday surprise
  • Holiday caroling with the kids and crew
  • Religious Services

9.  Hop aboard the Polar Express for a fun filled evening ride to visit Santa and friends.  For more info and to find a Polar Express near you click here!

10.  Head over to the Big Apple!  It’s the most wonderful time of the year to visit New York City.  Ring in the Holidays at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!  Enjoy the Tree at Rockefeller Center, events, and activities New York City has to offer this holiday season.  For NYC events and activities click here!

Holiday Travel with Kids

Holiday Travel with Kids

The holidays are fast approaching, it’s the most wonderful time of the year! It’s also the most stressful and expensive time of the year, specially when it comes to air travel.  Those of us who choose to travel for the holidays can look forward to high fares, crowded airports, packed planes, and weather delays.  There’s not much we can do about these things, but here’s a few tips that may help you plan your holiday get away and take a bit of strain off your budget and nerves.

1.  When deciding where to go for the holidays consider a destination you can drive to.   Air fare for a family of 4 will be more expensive than the gas you will use to and from your destination, plus you don’t have to worry about airport security, luggage fees, and crowded planes.

Consider this:  Driving from Tucson to Los Angeles takes about 6 hours;  round trip air fare for the hour long flight for Thanksgiving weekend  is pricing at $400 per person meaning $1600 for a family of 4 plus the cost of airport transfers or long term parking.

If you decide to fly you will have to arrive at the airport at least 2 hours before your flight is scheduled to leave.  Depending on how far you live from the airport this means you will be heading for the airport at least 3 hours before your flight.  So you will already be “traveling” for at least 3 hours before your one hour flight ever leaves the gate. If you were driving you’d be halfway to Los Angeles before the flight even departs Tucson!  And you would have saves more than $1000 which you could use towards hotel, dining, and entertainment or whatever else you want.

2.  If you do need to fly book your flights as early as possible.  Hotels too if you need them.  Prices are based on availability, they go up as flights and hotels fill up,  so getting in before they do is a good idea.  If you’re worried about price drops check out this site called Yapta.com it will track the price you paid for airfare and will alert you if it drops and you are entitled to a refund.

If you can be flexible about your dates or choose dates wisely.  It’s cheaper to fly on the holiday than the day before.  There are also a short window of cheaper airfare and hotel rates, it’s  called the “dead week”  the week just after Thanksgiving and New Year.

Try to book an early morning flight or a red-eye.  Airports are less busy in the early hours, traffic builds up as the day goes on.  It’s easier to navigate a less crowded airport and there will be shorter lines at check-in and security.

Book non-stop flights if possible.  This avoids long layovers and decreases the chance that you may be delayed due to weather.

3.  When you buy your tickets online make sure you choose your seats if possible.  Some airlines like Southwest have no seat assignments but do charge a premium fee that allows you to board before the other passengers.  It may be worth paying the fee during holiday travel to ensure you and your kids will be seated together.  On other airlines if you can not find seats that are together just take the seats that are closest together, if possible get aisle or window seats, they’re easier to trade.   When you arrive at the gate inform the gate agent you and your kids aren’t seated together, they may be able to find you seats that are.  If all else fails you may be able to trade your seats with other passengers once everyone has boarded, this is when having aisle and window seats come in handy.  It’s easier to find folks trade to an aisle or window seat, no one ever wants to trade for a middle.

Last summer’s flight to Rome we had 4 seats in a row and 2 directly in front

4.  Pack lightly, avoid baggage fees by fitting your things in a carry-on bag.  Also saves time and aggravation when you don’t have to drop off checked luggage and jostle with the crowds at baggage claim.  Do check the baggage policies of airlines before you purchase tickets, some are now charging for carry-on bags as well.
Check this TSA website to know what you can and can not carry on and how to get thru security line faster.

5.  If you will be bringing presents consider shipping them to your destination instead of checking bags in.  Better yet take advantage of free shipping many online retailers offer during the holidays and have the gifts sent directly to your friends and family.

6.  Check-in online 24 hours before your flight.  This gives you a boarding pass which you can print or store on your mobile device, you can avoid check-in lines at the airport and head straight for security checkpoints.  If you are checking in luggage you will have to drop them off at the baggage drop-off and get a luggage tag.

7.  Arrive at the airport early.  Allow yourself plenty of time to get thru all the lines and get to your gate.  Getting seats close together at the gate is easier when it’s less crowded.  You can stake a claim to your seats and settle in to wait for your flight to board.

8.  Bring your own food.  Yes there are many stores and restaurants by the gates but they too can have long lines and you may not have time to buy food.  Pack non-perishable snacks and bring an EMPTY water bottle that can be filled once you get thru security.  Also packing your own food saves money, airport food is costly.  Airlines do sell meals and snacks in flight, but the choices are slim and the prices steep.

9.  If you are traveling with an infant or toddler board last if you can.  Other members of your party can board ahead to arrange carry-on bags into overhead bins, you and baby can hang out at the gate and board the plane at the end.  It’s easier to keep young kids entertained at the gate than trying to keep them confined in an airplane seat for 45 minutes or more.

10.  Keep kids entertained during the flight with books, toys, and mobile devices that you’ve packed in your carry-on.  Also bring headphones so they can watch in-flight entertainment if it’s available.

 

11.  Put your smart phone to work, there are many apps that will keep track of your itinerary, help you navigate airports, locate restaurants, and more.  Download them before you leave home.

12.  If you run into delays and cancellations know your travel rights.  Barring bad weather or any natural disasters travelers do have rights.  Bookmark these sites on your smart phone just in case.
Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration.

13.  Consider purchasing a pass to an airport lounge if you have a long lay-over.  They are much more comfortable than sitting at the gate.  They usually have sofas, tvs, work stations, wi-fi, and many serve snacks and drinks.

Alaska Airline’s Boardroom at the Sea-Tac Airport

14.  Consider buying travel insurance.  I know it’s an extra expense but during the holiday travel season it may come in handy.  Travel insurance may reimburse you for airline fees, hotel stays, lost luggage, and other things should you run into problems during your trip.


Save up to 70% on Airport Parking!

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade View Tips

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade View Tips

 

Anthony Quintano/Flickr Creative Commons

The annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade heralds in the Christmas Holiday season.  It’s one of the most famous holiday events in the world. Over three million people line the parade route to get a glimpse of celebrities, marching bands, floats,  and the huge floating balloons—Snoopy, Spiderman, Big Bird, Hello Kitty,  and friends.  50 million people are expected to watch it on TV as part of their annual Thanksgiving tradition.

This parade has been a part of my life forever.  I watched is as a child perched high atop my father’s
shoulders.  When we relocated to Hawaii we woke up early Thanksgiving morning to watch it on TV, when I had my own kids we did the same, and now the grand kids watch it every year.  When my youngest child was in her high school’s marching band they marched in this parade.  At that time Pearl City High School had a standing invitation to march in the parade every couple of years, they still may.  This parade is definitely part of our family’s Thanksgiving tradition.  It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving if we miss the parade, live or on TV.

For those of you who will be lucky enough to watch it live this year here are a few tips to help you out.

1.  The fun doesn’t have to begin on Thanksgiving morning.  A pre-Thanksgiving tradition on the Upper west side in watching the balloons get inflated.  For many kids watching the balloons “come to life” is more fun than watching the parade itself.

This Thanksgiving eve event is on November 26, 2014 beginning at 3:00 p.m.  It takes place
along the perimeter of the Museum of Natural History, on 77th and 81st streets between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue.

2.   The 88th. Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is on November 27, 2014.  It begins at 9:00 a.m.

The parade route starts by  heading south down Central Park West from 77th Street, east along Central Park South to Sixth Avenue and then south along Sixth Avenue to West 34th Street.  It ends in front of Macy’s in Herald Square.

3.  Arrive early and bring folding chairs, they will make the wait more comfy.   Crowds start gathering along the route as early as 6am. You’ll want to stake out your spot before 7am if you want the kids to be close enough to be able to see.

4.  Check the weather and dress accordingly.  From the time you stake out your spot until the last float passes by you could be standing out in cold weather for more than 5 hours.  Make sure the kids are dressed warmly and have hats and mittens.  Layering would be a good idea, you can peel them off if it gets warmer as the day wears on.  Bring umbrellas if there is a chance of rain or snow.

5.  Bring essentials such as snacks, camera, extra sweater, a lap blanket may come in handy.  I’d take it easy on drinks, hot or cold, bathrooms may be difficult to get to.

6.  Choose your spot wisely, a spot as far north as possible would be good.  Once the parade starts it takes 90 minutes for the last float to pass by.  If you’re near the beginning of the route you could be done before 11:00 a.m.  If you choose a spot near the end near Macy’s Herald Square you will be waiting much longer and be fighting larger crowds.

There are public viewing spots along Central Park West, on the both sides of the street from 70th Street to Columbus Circle to 65th Street and continuing on the west side of the street down to Columbus Circle. You can try further south along Sixth Avenue between 58th Street and 34th Street

It would be a good idea to stake your spot near a coffee shop or department store, this is a definite must with young kids, you can nip into the shop for a bathroom break when needed.

7.  Know your kids limits.  There’s no harm in bailing out early if it gets too cold or the kids get cranky.  Watching part of the parade is better than nothing, and better than bringing home sick or upset kids.

8.  Treat yourselves to a Thanksgiving Feast, after standing out in the cold for hours you’ve definitely earned it.  For NYC restaurants offering special Thanksgiving meals click here!

9.  Enjoy the other sights and events this city has to offer.  The Christmas Season is one of the most wonderful time of the year to visit the Big Apple.  For a list of NYC Christmas events click here!