Image courtesy the New York Transit Museum

It’s that time of year again: families are gathering, holiday decorations are resurfacing and belts are loosening. Thanksgiving weekend is right around the corner — and while there are plenty of traditions to take part in, the same old routine can get old. Instead of dragging your extended family to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, take part in these exciting and downright quirky events taking place throughout New York City. We’ve curated a unique list for the intrepid New Yorker:

11. Secrets of Central Park Walking Tour

Did you know that Central Park was once the site of a former African-American village? Or that it was previously home to an infamous casino, where alcohol flowed throughout the Prohibition? For almost 160 years, Central Park has been the green heart of the city, serving as a pastoral haven for New Yorkers and visitors alike. Even so, it still holds many secrets that have yet to be discovered. On this walking tour we’ll explore the history behind some of its best-loved and hidden sites. Learn about the genesis, design, and evolution of the immense green space, while uncovering its many outrageous happenings, scandals and more.

Secrets of Central Park Walking Tour

Right after Thanksgiving weekend, we’re also hosting a special-access tour of the members-only Players Club on Gramercy Park. We invite you to join us for this unique tour. Tickets can be purchased here.

10. MTA’s Holiday Nostalgia Trains

Image courtesy the New York Transit Museum

While news about the city’s decaying subway system has been anything but great, the New York Transit Museum and the MTA have come together once again for the holiday season to bring some measure of holiday cheer to its riders with the Holiday Nostalgia Trains. Vintage trains from decades past will replace some regular service cars and celebrate the one year anniversary of the Second Avenue Subway.

The 1930s R1-9 train cars will begin running this Sunday, November 26, and every Sunday through Christmas Eve (December 3, 10, 17, and 24) along the F line between 2nd Avenue and Lexington Avenue / 63rd Street, and via the Q line between Lexington Avenue / 63rd Street and 96th Street. Always a big hit amongst visitors and New Yorkers, the cars come complete with rattan seats, drop-sash style windows, ceiling fans, incandescent bulb lighting, vintage roll signs, and original advertisements.

The trains will leave from the 2nd Avenue F train stop at 10:00 am, 12:00 pm, 2:00 pm, and 4:00 pm, and to mark the one year anniversary of the Second Avenue Subway, will leave for the 96th Street Q train stop at 11:00 am, 1:00 pm, 3:00 pm, and 5:00 pm.

Looking for more vintage holiday nostalgia? A selection of the Transit Museum’s vintage bus fleet will also be running on the M24 route beginning Monday, December 4 to Friday, December 22, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.


9. Museum of Interesting Things + Secret Speakeasy

Image Courtesy of the Museum of Interesting Things

The Museum of Interesting Things, a traveling exhibition of antiques and inventions, is taking over a Soho loft from 6pm to 10pm on Sunday, November 26. All ages are welcome to attend this unique, themed event focused around the history of invention. Visitors will have the opportunity to see 16mm short films, hear original vinyl records, handle actual antiques and enjoy refreshments.

The event is set to take place at The Loft at Prince Street (177 Prince Street). In the spirit of a true Speakeasy, however, the details are subjected to change so make sure to check back on the website before the event.

8. Thanksgiving Day ‘Clue’ with Videology Bar & Cinema

On Thanksgiving Day, drop by Videology Bar and Cinema — an independent micro-cinema in Williamsburg, Brooklyn — for ‘Clue’ on a Loop. The free event begins at 4pm, and includes board games, brandy and pumpkin pie. The 1985 classic whodunit, Clue, will also be playing on loop all day (4pm to 1am), so put on your thinking cap and make your over to Brooklyn for a jam-packed night of fun.

7. Cranksgiving

Cranksgiving is a part bike ride, part food drive, and part scavenger hunt that takes place every year in the city. The concept of Cranksgiving is simple: organizers of Cranksgiving essentially create a master list of items requested by local charities, qw well as the places to buy them. These items are broken down into individual “manifests” that volunteers grab. The idea is to ride to a grocery store, buy food/items, and take them to the designated charity centers—thus helping hundreds of families have food on their tables during the week of Thanksgiving.

Held annually in New York City since 1999, it has now expanded to all around the country, and also London and even Miramichi, Canada. A few events will be taking place in around the city, so click here for the details.

 6. Thanksgiving Dinner Outside of Home

If you’re looking to switch up the usual route at home, make sure to drop by a few New York City restaurants as they are offering special holiday menus. Check out what’s being offered: amNewYork, City Guide and OpenTable have rounded up a list of places serving up fall-appropriate eats.

5. Annual Day-After-Thanksgiving Hike

Counteract your Thanksgiving dinner by burning some extra calories. At the 14th annual Day After Thanksgiving Hike, you can join fellow guilt-ridden New Yorkers for a 2.5 hike, which will take place at LaTourette Park on Staten Island (with a visit to the LaTourette house itself).

Educators of the Greenbelt Environmental Education Department will lead the event, which begins at 10am on Friday, November 24 this year. For more information, click here.

4. Post-Turkey Day Tour

After stuffing yourself with turkey, force yourself up off the couch and enjoy this serene walking tour through one of New York City’s most historic cemeteries and iconic green spaces: the Green-Wood Cemetery. Not only will you be treated to a lovely autumn stroll, you’ll also have the opportunity to visit the Catacombs, which are normally off-limits to the public.

This year, the tour takes place on Friday November 24th from 1-3 p.m. Get your tickets here, and make sure to dress warmly on the day of the event!

3. Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar

Get a head start on your holiday shopping this year by paying a visit to the Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar. Hosted by the e-commerce site, Brooklyn Makers, the annual event showcases the very best of Brooklyn’s local talent. Check out 60+ handpicked makers, sample delicious foods & drinks and participate in fun activities. There will also be a live DJ and a photo booth to commemorate the occasion.

This year, the Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar takes place on Thanksgiving weekend (25th and 26th) at two venues: 501 Union and The Green Building in Gowanus.

2. Holiday Train Show

Brooklyn Bridge, with World Trade Center in the distance with Battery Maritime Building, ferries, Statue of Liberty. Photo via New York Botanical Garden

The New York Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train Show opens on November 22 and runs until January 15! Head over to the garden to watch model trains zip through a miniature New York, featuring 150 landmarks, each created with natural materials. The event takes place at the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.

On the journey, you’ll spot iconic places such as the Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty, and Rockefeller Center. This year’s exhibition showcases Midtown Manhattan’s iconic skyscrapers and features new replicas of the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, General Electric Building, and St. Bartholomew’s Church.

1. Thanksgiving Stand at Grand Central Market

From 7am to 8pm on November 22, Grand Central Terminal will be hosting a one-day Thanksgiving pop-up market at the Taxi Stand (at Vanderbilt Ave. and E. 43rd St). Featured vendors including Bien Cuit, Magnolia Bakery and Jacques Torres Chocolate will be serving delicious desserts just ahead of Thanksgiving.

Live music will also be taking place throughout the day, provided by MTA Music. The schedule is as follows:

10am -1pm: YAZ, solo jazz sax
1pm -4pm: Mecca Bodega, world music dulcimer
4pm -7pm: Salieu Suso, Gambian kora

Next, check out the Secrets of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and the Top 10 Balloon Mishaps at the Parade.

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