6 Best Things to Do for Fourth of July in New York City

Macy´s Fireworks 4th of July in NY
A6U3AD / Getty Images

While many New Yorkers choose to skip town on Fourth of July weekend to spend the holiday on a beach, upstate near a lake, or elsewhere outside the city, those who choose to stay have access to some of the best Independence Day celebrations in the country right in their backyard. From the nation's biggest fireworks display to one of the oldest parades, there is no shortage of July 4 events in New York City to keep you busy.

01 of 06

View the Fireworks from Above Street Level

Fireworks from SUMMIT One Vanderbilt in New York City

Alexi Rosenfeld / Contributor / Getty Images

20 W 34th St., New York, NY 10001, USA
Phone +1 212-736-3100

Whether you're looking to celebrate at a chic rooftop bar or restaurant, or an epic pool party, there's something for every style, taste, and budget in NYC when it comes to viewing the legendary Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks from above street level.

Somewhere Nowhere's Fourth of July BBQ and pool party is a good place to start, offering views of the Macy's Fireworks show from its rooftop pool perch on the 38th and 39th floors of the Renaissance New York Chelsea Hotel on West 25th St. Other high-level celebrations include an exclusive ticket-only party atop the Empire State Building—tickets are pricey (as in $500 per person) but include access to both viewing decks on the 80th and 102nd floors, and gourmet food and beverages—and a 21+ adults-only open bar experience at SUMMIT One Vanderbilt on East 42nd St.

02 of 06

Be Amazed by Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks

Fourth of July Fireworks
Ultima_Gaina / Getty Images
151 W 34th St., New York, NY 10001, USA
Phone +1 212-695-4400

Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks display is the largest in the United States and is truly a dazzling show. Shot on July 4th over the East River with the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan skyline stepping in as dramatic backdrops, or the Hudson River between Manhattan and New Jersey, depending on the year—historically, they've alternated and the 2022 fireworks took place along the East River.

While many people who live in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, or New Jersey may be able to see the show from their own rooftops (the fireworks generally aren't visible from Staten Island or the Bronx), for the millions of people who live in other parts of New York City or around the country, you can tune in and watch the show right in your living room. The show begins on NBC at 8 p.m. ET and 7 p.m. CT, so Americans from coast to coast can be a part of this patriotic spectacle.

03 of 06

Cheer on Contestants at Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest

Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest countdown clock
Kcpwiki / Wikimedia Commons  
1310 Surf Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11224, USA
Phone +1 718-333-2202

One of the greatest New York City Fourth of July traditions is Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island. Contenders from all over the world head to the famous Brooklyn beach town to see how many hot dogs they can eat in 10 minutes—in 2020, the reigning champion, Joey "Jaws" Chestnut, broke his own world record by chowing down a whopping 76 dogs, up from his original record of 74 in 2018. No one else has managed to beat him or his record during the contest since.

Of course, you don't have to participate to be part of the fun. Just come out and cheer on the contenders—and enjoy at least one hot dog, if not 76. It's held from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues.

After the prestigious Mustard Belt has been handed out to this year's hot dog eating champion, head to the nearby New York Aquarium for more fun in Coney Island. Don't miss the shark exhibit, where you can crawl under the shark tank. Or, if you really want to feel like a kid again, splurge on a ride or two at Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park or Coney Island's legendary Luna Park, home of the Cyclone roller coaster, a classic since it opened in 1927.

04 of 06

Wave a Flag at the Travis Parade

US Flag, backlit by the sun, waves on a windy day in NYC.

 jnn1776 / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Travis, Staten Island, NY 10314, USA

The village of Travis, located along the West Shore of the NYC borough of Staten Island, is older than the United States of America and throws one of the longest-running Fourth of July parades in the country.

Since 1911, this homey residential neighborhood has hosted one of the most iconic Independence Day events—not just on Staten Island, but in all of New York City. The opening ceremony typically begins at noon on July 4 each year in front of P.S. 26 at the corner of Victory Boulevard and Glen Street.

Continue to 5 of 6 below.
05 of 06

Take a Festive Cruise

Sunset Cruise off Battery Park, New York City

Alex Proimos / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Pier 40, 353 West St, New York, NY 10014, USA
Phone +1 212-727-2789

One of the best ways to experience New York City's phenomenal fireworks is from a sightseeing cruise in New York Harbor. While Fourth of July cruise tickets aren't cheap, they do offer a unique vantage point for experiencing unobstructed views of fireworks. Book well in advance to ensure a spot, and be sure to be on time for boarding. It's also a good idea to check the Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks website and see which river the events will be taking place on that year, as the festivities will typically alternate between the East and Hudson Rivers on either side of Manhattan.

Hornblower offers many Independence Day cruises, with options ranging from family-friendly to adults only. Daytime lunch cruises miss out on the fireworks, but serve picnic favorites like mac and cheese and barbecue chicken. They're also a much more affordable option for those who want to spend the holiday on the water and don't mind missing the evening show. While evening cruises are the most expensive, attendees can enjoy an open bar while fireworks shoot off directly overhead.

06 of 06

Visit NYC's National Monuments

Statue of Liberty and Liberty Island from the ferry

 Jiuguang Wang / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

New York, NY 10004, USA
Phone +1 212-363-3200

The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island National Monument are both open and offer the chance to celebrate Independence Day at two of the most iconic symbols of America's freedom. Spend the day touring one or both and learning about the country's earliest years and the many, many immigrants who helped to make it the country we know today. Note that there are different ticket prices based on your itinerary and age. 

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6 Best Things to Do for Fourth of July in New York City