Looking for a family-fun activity to get you in the holiday spirit? The Silver Spring Thanksgiving Parade – the only Thanksgiving parade in the metro DC area – has everything you could want in a parade – marching bands, giant characters and balloons, candy thrown to the kids, and an appearance by Father Christmas himself.
- Date: Saturday before Thanksgiving
- Time: 10am-12pm
- Parade Route: Starts at Ellsworth Drive and Fenton Street and goes south on Georgia Avenue, ending at Silver Spring Avenue.
- Admission: FREE
Silver Spring Thanksgiving Parade Logistics
Officially called the Montgomery County Thanksgiving parade, the parade takes place in downtown Silver Spring, MD, a suburb just outside of DC with a fun and functional city center, from 10am – 12pm on the Saturday before Thanksgiving every year.
The parade begins at Ellsworth Drive and Fenton Street and then heads south on Georgia Avenue, ending at Silver Spring Avenue.
It also is televised live on News Channel 8 and rerun on Thanksgiving Day (so if you don’t make it this year, tune in to see what you’re missing and start planning for next year!). It’s a great alternative to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York.
Before you go to the Thanksgiving Parade
Be prepared to bundle up! We’ve had years where we’ve needed hats and gloves, extra blankets and over heavy coats, and then there are some years when we’ve been fine with just a sweatshirt.
You never know what the weather will be like in Silver Spring, Maryland.
But if it is cold, sitting still (and potentially in the shade of a building) can get pretty chilly.
On that chilly note, you might also want to bring a blanket for the kids to sit on or some folding chairs to set up along the parade route. Those sidewalks get chilly, and kids love to sit on the curb to see all of the action.
We always bring a bag or pail to hold the candy the kids collect. They usually get a pretty good haul!
Plan on arriving about half an hour early to stake out a good spot; even earlier if you want to grab a coffee and a front row seat before the start of the parade.
Getting to Silver Spring
Downtown Silver Spring (DTSS as the locals calls it) is incredibly accessible. If you take the DC Metro (red line toward Glenmont), you’ll want to head north on Colesville from the metro station and then turn right onto Georgia where you’ll intercept the parade route.
If you drive, there are several large public parking garages in the area that are free on the weekends, as well as plenty of street parking. To avoid parade route traffic, try the these two parking garages:
- Spring Cameron Garage (Garage 2) on Cameron Street between Spring Street and Georgia Avenue
- Cameron Street Garage (Garage 7) between 2nd Ave. and Georgia Ave
At the Silver Spring Thanksgiving parade
The parade route offers lots of options for where to sit, but we recommend heading to the Fountain Plaza on Ellsworth Drive for several reasons:
- It’s pretty close to the beginning of the parade route, so all of the dancers and the bands are fresh (and there’s still plenty of candy to be thrown).
- The Fountain Plaza (which sports a giant Christmas tree art-installation at the time of the parade) is a contained, car-free area for kids to run around in if they get bored with sections of the parade.
- There are several food and bathroom options close by if you need coffee or a restroom break.
Starbucks is a few doors down on Ellsworth, and Panera is on the corner of Georgia and Colesville. The Downtown Silver Spring Mall is also easily accessible from Ellsworth Drive, and there are large, clean bathrooms (and a small kids play area) on the bottom floor of the mall.
How Long is the Silver Spring Thanksgiving Parade?
It’s a long parade – most years we leave before it’s over. But if you make it all the way to the end, you get to see Santa Clause, which is pretty magical. It may not be the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but it’s a pretty darn fun way to ring in the holiday season. And much more achievable.
additional reporting by Ellen Peltz
Need a hotel in Silver Spring, MD?
- Courtyard Silver Spring Downtown: self-parking available and walkable to everything downtown
- Doubletree by Hilton Washington DC Silver Spring: Pet-friendly with a pool and walking distance to parade.
- Holiday Inn Express Washington DC N-Silver Spring: Breakfast included + suites and accessible rooms
- Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center: Pet-friendly with updated rooms and suites northwest of downtown Silver Spring.
- Canopy by Hilton Washington DC Bethesda North: Pet-friendly with a spa in the heart of Pike & Rose shopping and residential complex
Find more Silver Spring MD hotels HERE.
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Washington, D.C. Travel Resources
Your Washington, D.C. vacation doesn’t have to be stressful. We’ve got the resources you need to plan your trip and make the most out of your time in the city and surrounding area. If this is your first time to the capital region, check out our Washington, D.C. trip planner and itineraries.
For transportation, check out our D.C. driving guide and our guide on how to ride the metro. For those flying in, you’ll want to read our guides to BWI, DCA and IAD airports.
Dive into our things to do in D.C., which is always being updated and evolving to make sure you have the latest and greatest activities to fill your checklist of things to do. Don’t forget about food, the real reason we all travel, right? Our Washington, D.C. restaurant guide will get you started and lead you into neighborhoods full of delicious treats.
Where to Stay in Washington, D.C.
Budget: When it comes to Washington, D.C. budget hotels, prices vary depending on the season. In the middle of October, a four-star hotel could be under $150, while in December it may be over $400. At any given time of year, though, Hotel Hive is a safe bet for value when it comes to resting your head. If you are looking for a hostel, Hi Washington D.C. Downtown is well located for exploring all of the D.C. museums, restaurants and bars at the fraction of the price of a hotel. Check rates and availability here.
Mid-range: Every USA hotel chain can be found in Washington, D.C., but stay at the St. Gregory Hotel when you want a local touch. The modern, light-filled rooms will welcome you to the city, whether you are in a studio or suite with wraparound terrace. The hotel is walking distance to Georgetown, the National Mall and Embassy Row, making it easy to explore without a rental car. Check rates and availability here.
Luxury: You are spoiled for choice when it comes to luxury hotels in Washington, D.C. We love cozying up at the Graham Georgetown, a sweet little boutique hotel in one of the hottest neighborhoods in the city. Check rates and availability here. Major hotel brands like The Fairmont, Mandarin Oriental, Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons Hotel Washington D.C. and St. Regis Washington D.C. all have outposts here as well. If you want something a bit more historic, we recommend The Jefferson, Washington D.C. Ninety-nine rooms in this luxury boutique hotel bring together an attentive staff, petite spa, and the Michelin-starred Plume restaurant with all of the history you could hope for when you are in the nation’s capital. Check rates and availability here.
Family-friendly: We always gravitate towards the Kimpton hotels whenever we are traveling with kids. Kimpton Hotel Monaco Washington D.C., once the General Post Office building, is located in the Penn Quarter neighborhood just four blocks off the National Mall near the National Gallery of Art. Price point is mid-range, depending on the time of year you visit. Parents will love the nightly wine events and evening nightcap perks as well as complimentary coffee and a tea bar each morning. Kids will love that they can borrow a fish friend for their stay, and that there is always a treat on hand that they can enjoy, and the robes are just their size. Kimpton also has adult and child-size bikes to borrow so you can cruise around town during your stay. Check rates and availability here.
Looking for Washington DC Rentals? Check HERE for the best location, size and rates.
Washington DC Rental Car
If you just flew in , you probably need a rental car. Although you can certainly take the Metro most places, especially if you fly into DCA, you may want a rental car to get out and explore. Find the best priced and availability HERE.
Planning a Trip to Washington, D.C.? Don’t Forget Travel Insurance!
Whether you are traveling domestically or coming from an international destination, travel insurance is a must for anyone coming to Washington, D.C. You will be exploring both inside and outdoors; hiking may even happen if you get adventurous. You could find yourself on a Segway or bike tour. The city is highly populated and accidents and crime do happen. This is not to scare you, but to prepare you for what could occur when you are checking out the free museums, exploring neighborhoods, finding the best food and learning about the local street art. Should something happen, travel insurance has you covered.
We recommend and use Allianz Travel insurance. Our family is covered under a household plan, but their individual plans are just as robust if you are a solo traveler or a couple looking to get away. I’ve been a customer for more than five years and have always been in good hands with the Allianz team.
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This post was published by Keryn Means, a Washington DC travel expert, and the editor and publisher of DC Travel Magazine. Our articles may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking one of those links we will receive a small commission.