Start at Columbus Avenue and 79th Street
The Macy's balloon inflation has become a holiday tradition of its own. Tens of thousands crowd the streets surrounding the American Museum of Natural History as annual favorites like Charlie Brown, the Pillsbury Doughboy, Red from Angry Birds, the Elf on the Shelf, and more come to life along the debut balloons.
Experienced balloon watchers know not to expect a leisurely stroll Wednesday night. Instead, you'll be herded into a procession that favors older kids who can better deal with crowds.
By 5pm the majority of balloons have begun to take shape and by 9pm typically all are inflated. Balloons are kept earthbound by giant nets.
A few more insider tips:
Beating the line. The most foolproof way to beat the crowds is to visit the Museum of Natural History prior to the start of the balloon inflation. The museum is open until 5:45pm on Thanksgiving Eve and you can exit right onto the loop.
Leave the stroller at home. The crowds make it near impossible to push a stroller, and chances are your young child will be too small to see past the barricades and adults. You might want to wait until your child is old enough to withstand the crowds and endure long periods of standing before considering a visit.
Don’t try to meet up with friends on site. If you want to go as a group, travel to the site together or meet a few blocks away. It's nearly impossible to connect once you're amid the fray.
Tips courtesy of https://mommypoppins.com/ny-kids/macys-thankgiving-day-parade-and-balloon-inflation-viewers-guide