This week in New York, ponder ecological themes through a puppet performance or get some insight into the mind of a master chocolatier. As we wind up to Thanksgiving, get in the mood with a scavenger hunt meets food drive, or get in some Thanksgiving Day parade action without the, er, parade as you watch the signature balloons get inflated the day before.

AFAR Local is our weekly insider guide to the best of what’s happening in cities around the U.S.

November 17 - 20 | Theater
Memory Rings
Catch the New York premier of “Memory Rings,” a “time-bending puppet fantasia on ecological themes” from the Phantom Limb Company. Marionettes and masked performers reference characters as varied as Gilgamesh and Snow White as they navigate a tech-savvy forest that holds the world’s oldest living tree. Featuring a mix of puppetry, choreography, and music, the parable examines the long history of humanity’s place in nature.
BAM Harvey Theater | 651 Fulton St., Brooklyn | From $30 | website

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November 17 | Talk
Chocolate and Conversation with Jacques Torres
For the seventh year running, beloved NPR host (and three-time James Beard Award winner) Leonard Lopate is hosting the Lopate and Locavores series at the Greene Space to talk about all facets of the NYC food scene. This year, he’s sitting down with famed chocolatier Jacques Torres to talk to “Mr. Chocolate” about his artisanal chocolate empire and the art of crafting unique confections. Tickets include one complimentary beverage.
7:00 PM - 8:15 PM | The Greene Space, 44 Charlton St., New York | $25 | website

November 19 | Scavenger hunt for a good cause
Cranksgiving
Equal parts bike ride, scavenger hunt, and food drive, Cranksgiving combines having a good time with helping a good cause. Participants need only bring a bike, a bag, a lock, and about $15 to buy food along the way, all of which will then be donated to the Bowery Mission to provide hundreds of meals during Thanksgiving week. What started in 1999 as a local event has grown to include nearly 80 independently organized Cranksgiving events around the globe.
1:00 PM | Hudson Yards, east side of 11th Ave. btw. 34th and 35th St., New York | Free | website

November 23 | Pre-parade fun
Macy’s Giant Balloons Inflation
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is an iconic New York—and national—event. But unless you feel like arriving at the crack of dawn or know someone with a home or office along the parade route, getting a good live view along with 3.5 million others can be a challenge. Instead, show up the day before to watch the dozens of signature oversized helium balloons get blown up and ready for the big day.
3:00 PM - 10:00 PM | Areas surrounding the Museum of Natural History by 79th St. and Columbus Ave., New York | Free | website

November 19 - 20 | Escape the city
Lake Harmony, PA
For a beautiful, pre-Thanksgiving fall getaway, head 100 miles outside the city to the Poconos town of Lake Harmony. The Split Rock Resort makes a good home base, and you can decide to explore the area or stay there all weekend. Seriously, with an indoor waterpark, arcade, bowling, movie theater, spa, indoor pool, and more, there’s not much reason to leave. For even more incentive to visit, this weekend features the 26th Annual Great Brews Beer Festival, complete with over 100 beers and live entertainment.

A native New Yorker, Katherine is a freelance food and travel writer who has eaten her way across the globe and is always on the lookout for her next great meal. She is an avid reader, insatiable traveler, sometimes photographer, and mom to an inquisitive toddler.