Kung Fu Panda at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day ParadeThis Jersey Mom loves New York City all year round, but Thanksgiving weekend is one of my truly favorite times to take a family trip into Manhattan. Here are three great activities for your family to enjoy over the Thanksgiving long weekend:

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

This legendary spectacle is a wonder to behold in person, and even if you only go once, it's a memory your children will treasure forever—especially in subsequent years when they're watching on TV from the comfort of home and can recall when they saw it live from the crowds lining the parade route. I also recommend a Wednesday night visit (3 pm to 10 pm) to the Upper West Side (77th and 81st streets, between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West) to see the great balloons being inflated on Thanksgiving Eve. Free.

American Museum of Natural History

Right next door to the balloon inflating is the American Museum of Natural History (79th Street and Central Park West). This kid-friendly museum is a wonderful outing in all seasons, but especially at holiday time when they have their annual Origami Holiday Tree on display (November 21 through January 2). The intricate paper ornaments are created by volunteers, who begin folding back in August! Other special exhibits worth the trip are The World's Largest Dinosaurs, which gives kids the chance to dig for fossils, and The Butterfly Conservatory, aflutter with beautiful, tropical butterflies alive in winter. Open daily 10 am to 5:45 pm—closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Suggested admission charge, some exhibits have additional fees.

Big Apple Circus

This non-traditional circus is great for kids of all ages. This year's show is Dream Big! and features amazing juggling and acrobatics, not to mention some incredible feats performed by dogs, horses, and even a porcupine! There's also comedy, magi,c and my daughters' favorite, The Flying Cortes family, which is made up of five generations of trapeze artists, including 10-year-old Ysabella Wallenda-Cortes. The Big Tent is up at Lincoln Center Plaza until January 8. Ticket prices vary.

Do you have a favorite Manhattan outing that you enjoy each year with your family? Let us know!