Celebrating July Fourth in New York City

A truly American holiday, the Fourth of July is also known as Independence Day. Independence Day commemorates the signing and adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, which gave the colonies independence from Britain.

Independence Day is a federal holiday, and Americans typically celebrate bigtime with fireworks, barbecues and parades throughout the United States.

Although many New Yorkers skip town for the Fourth of July, New York City hosts truly impressive fireworks displays as well as a number of other events to commemorate the holiday. Visitors to New York City get a vacation bonus: They can watch the largest fireworks display in the United States in person. It really is quite the sight to behold and makes for a very memorable holiday, even if it's a bit different from what you're used to.

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    Fourth of July Fireworks
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    Macy's Fourth of July fireworks display is the largest in the United States, and each year it is truly a spectacular show. On July 4, 2018, the fireworks will be shot from barges in the East River. This location offers great visibility from many locations in downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn. Check restaurants with stellar views to see if you need tickets in advance. If you're not in the area, you can also watch the fireworks as they are broadcast live on TV.

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    July 4th boats NYC
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    One great way to experience New York City's phenomenal fireworks is from a sightseeing cruise in New York Harbor. Check out Fourth of July cruises to get an unobstructed view of the fireworks. The tickets aren't cheap, but they do offer a unique vantage point for experiencing the fireworks. Be sure to book in advance to ensure a spot on your favorite cruise and be on time for boarding. Pay attention to what is included in each cruise option and also account for how long you'll be on the boat—many of these options mean you'll be getting back to the pier late at night, and that might not be the best option for folks who have young kids and/or others who like to hit the sack on the early side.

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    Fourth of July Events

    Annual July 4th Hot Dog Eating Contest Held At Nathan's On Coney Island
    Andrew Renneisen / Getty Images

    Looking for some other ways to celebrate the Fourth of July in New York City? Whether you want to see the Nathan's hot dog eating contest, attend a fireworks viewing party, enjoy a holiday walking tour or see a concert, there are several great ideas for celebrating the holiday. The most popular events do sell out in advance, so book them as soon as you can if you find something that appeals to you. Keep in mind that if there is a special event at your hotel that additional tickets might be required to attend. Contact your hotel directly to find out if there will be any restrictions or limitations for the holiday—even if its awesome rooftop bar does have a view of the fireworks, it might be closed for a private event or access might be limited for security reasons.

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    Metropolitan Museum of Art
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    Since the Fourth of July is a federal holiday, the government, most businesses, post offices and banks will be closed. In New York City, most stores, restaurants and bars will be open, but some might close early to allow for employees to celebrate the holiday. Most sightseeing cruises have special schedules for the holiday, and guided tours often have special events/schedules as well, so confirm directly with them to avoid disappointment.

    As far as New York City attractions go, most will be open, including: