What to do with my mom on Thanksgiving in NYC?
November 22, 2010 11:56 AM   Subscribe

Last minute NYC Thanksgiving plans: need help with hotels, food, activities, etc.

Hi all. I'm a Brooklyn resident who was planning on not doing the fly home for Thanksgiving thing this year. But my dear mother couldn't take it, so she just bought a plane ticket that will have her here from Wednesday morning to Friday morning. I am not working those days, so I'm free to do whatever.

Problem the first: I can't have her stay at my place (roommates, location would freak her out, etc). I'm off the L line, so I'm hoping to find her a hotel room around Union Square/Gramercy/whatever above 14th and ideally below 34th (for my convenience). She is afraid of 'urban grit' or anything that is slightly out of the ordinary, so AirBNB is out ("ew! staying in a strange apartment, no way!"), and anything with shared bathrooms is out of the question, in a neighborhood that won't be perceived as sketchy by someone who doesn't know what sketchy in New York really means (she's a suburbanite). She tends to prefer chain places like Sheratons/Hampton Inns etc. I need to find a place under $200 a night. There seem to be a few options near Herald Square, but I fear that the T-day parade might prove to be a huge subway/taxi travel nightmare on that day. Is that a fair assumption? General suggestions welcome here.

Problem the second: Where to eat? Nothing ethnic (again, my mother is very turned off my anything 'different'). Is there someplace to get a standard T-giving type meal (buffet-style is ok) that wouldn't cost a ton (>$50 a person) and where I can still make a reservation this late in the game? A classy atmosphere with middlin' prices prefered. Location not as important, but please don't send me somewhere way up on the Upper West Side or something.

Lastly: what should I do with her? She hasn't visited me since I moved here, and the only places she's ever seen in NYC are the standard tourist attractions, during daylight hours only. She has no interest in seeing the parade (nor do I), and we have nothing in common really. Maybe some kind of choral performance or classical music holiday themed thing? Any kind of upbeat easy-going non-challenging event that a late-60s southern conservative (but not religious) suburbanite might enjoy? What things are definitely closed on Thanksgiving day? I know this is vague, but my understanding of my mom as a person is pretty vague (we love each other but are just very different). Also, she doesn't like to walk too much. She's not lazy per se, but she does have some minor back issues and she even drives to her neighbor's house (what we New Yorkers might call 'two blocks away').

tl;dr:

Cheap (>200) last minute hotel reservations between 14th and 34th, while avoiding parade traffic, where to eat a Thanksgiving dinner on short notice, and what to do with a woman who is scared of city life for two days?
posted by greta simone to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Serious Eats has a long list of places serving Thanksgiving meals.

It is a long way from Brooklyn but the train show at the New York Botanical Garden is all kinds of wonderful and is the sort of thing your mother will talk about with her friends for weeks afterward. The NYBG is open until 3 p.m. on Thanksgiving day.

Would your mother like shopping at the Union Square Holiday Market?
posted by plastic_animals at 12:23 PM on November 22, 2010


I've got nothing on location, but the upper west/east sides will be far cheaper, and she'll probably like them far more than the hustle and bustle of midtown/herald Sq.

While the parade is going on the subway is amazingly efficient, and empty, so transportation wise, just be aware that everything runs on a sunday schedule (more time between trains), and allocate more time accordingly.

For food, a huge amount of restaurants do thanksgiving dinner, but you'll need to get reservations ASAP. You will be hardpressed to get a thanksgiving dinner at a decent place for under $50 total.

Window shopping is always an option- walking up and down 5th Ave in the 50's is always a treat. Most Churches should have open hours during the holidays, and have listings of whatever choral perfomance is going on. Grace Church (right below union sq on 12th st) usually has a bunch of organ meditations that are quite gorgeous. (I've walked into then a few times; they are totally non religious- just an organist jamming.)

Since your mother doesn't walk much, would she be amenable to you pushing her about in a wheelchair in a muesum? Taking the time to really look at some modern art at the Moma, would probably be pretty nice.

I would recommend avoiding Union Sq due to the Holiday Market going on right now.
posted by larthegreat at 12:26 PM on November 22, 2010


Not looking for >50 total for food, I meant per person, but that's flexible. Also, wheelchair is out. My mom just mostly doesn't like walking. It's a choice for her. She wouldn't be caught dead in a wheelchair.

I have already considered the Holiday Market at Union Square. I went the other day, she might dig it, despite the crowds. She likes cheesy holiday crafts :) and I like the other non-cheesy stuff there (bags!).

I would prefer to have her stay not uptown so far, as it will be a major boon to get to her, and I think she would feel weird and isolated.

I'll check out church schedules for performaces. Do you have any recommendations? (I'll look at Grace, too).

I was hoping that the fashion exhibit at Brooklyn Museum was still there, but it isn't. Does anyone know of any 'fashion through the ages' with actual dresses exhibits going on right now?

I would look all this up myself, but I'm pretty much working straight until she gets here, hence the request for hive-mind help.

Thanks so far!
posted by greta simone at 12:35 PM on November 22, 2010


Food: Sifty's Fifty Thanksgiving edition.

Hotel: Hotel Chandler in Murray hill on the east side or the Hilton Garden Inn in Chelsea on the west side. I've put people in both and both are currently showing availability of under-$200 rooms.
posted by Siena at 12:45 PM on November 22, 2010


We're trying to set up a meetup but haven't picked a space yet.
posted by brujita at 1:01 PM on November 22, 2010


Activities and shows, etc. that are open on Christmas Day via Newyorkology.com.

A lot of the nicer, American or New American restaurants will charge over $50pp for Thanksgiving but Back Forty looks like it's in your price range. Call ASAP to reserve. Hopefully they aren't booked solid. That would be my first choice from the Serious Eats list.

If you can go a little bit higher, Five Points is also solid and $60pp. They are showing availability on OpenTable for 2 people at 5pm, 6:30pm, 7:30pm, and 8pm right now (not sure when you wish to eat).
posted by kathryn at 2:42 PM on November 22, 2010


Union Square Inn might work. If you can get her to think of a common toilet as "fancy and European" then
Hotel 17 (sink in room) and the Chelsea Lodge (sink and shower in room) are other places that I've heard good things about.
posted by unknowncommand at 2:50 PM on November 22, 2010


Activities and shows, etc. that are open on Christmas Day via Newyorkology.com.

By which I meant Thanksgiving Day, of course.

I also see that Balthazar is open on Thanksgiving Day with a choice of a roast turkey platter or a prix fixe. The platter is well within your price range. The atmosphere is that of a bustling brasserie. It is a little cramped and loud, but it's been in countless movies, which your mother might get a kick out of. PDF menu. Call for reservations.
posted by kathryn at 2:54 PM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Take a look in the Wall St. area for hotels. Most of them cater to business travelers, and since it's a holiday, you may be able to score a last minute vacancy at a reasonable price. I've had a few people I work with stay at the Eurostar Wall St. which is reasonably priced, and very well kept, though the rooms are small. A lot of my co-workers have also stayed at The Pod when they need cheap, last minute reservations. It is a shared bathroom situation, but it is clean, and they have indicators in your room, to let you know when the shower etc. is available. It isn't too hostelly.

The Met has an excellent collection of clothing/costumes on display, so that might be a good place to check out. FIT also has a nice museum.
posted by EvilPRGuy at 7:43 PM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Walked by a bar on W 3rd street this morning that's advertising $25/pp prix fixe for Thanksgiving - the Half Pint. They tend to do solid pub food & I bet their turkey etc would be perfectly adequate. My only caution is that a lot of their seating is stools without backs which might not be great for this situation. If you're looking in that area I've known folks who have stayed happily in the Washington Square Hotel on the NW corner of the park; I think it's fairly reasonable by NYC standards.
posted by yarrow at 7:37 AM on November 23, 2010


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