Guide to Fourth of July in Coney Island: Festivals, Events, Things to Do

How to Spend the Fourth of July on Coney Island

Annual July 4th Hot Dog Eating Contest Held At Nathan's On Coney Island

Andrew Renneisen / Stringer/Getty Images

Head on down to Coney Island for a full day of fun, adventure, celebrations, and fireworks to commemorate the birth of America this Independence Day. From the traditional Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest to a baseball game featuring the local Brooklyn Cyclones, there's something for everyone.

With easy subway access, plenty to do, and a lot of big events planned throughout the day on July 4, you won't be bored in Brooklyn.

01 of 07

Hit the Beach

Beach, Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York City, New York, United States of America, North America
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As many as 120,000 people flock to the Coney Island beach on a hot day, and July 4th is usually pretty darn hot. Start your Independence Day holiday with some early sunbathing by arriving before 9:30 a.m. (but don't swim until the lifeguards arrive to start their shifts at 10 a.m.) When you get hungry head to the boardwalk where there are ample food options. 

02 of 07

Watch the Hot Dog Eating Contest

93rd Annual Nathan's Famous 4th Of July International Hot Dog-Eating Contest
 Bobby Bank / Contributor/Getty Images

Take a break at 10:30 a.m. and head over to Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest, where you can wave at the TV cameras while you watch some of the top competitive eaters in the world compete in this time-honored tradition. The contest will be broadcast live on ESPN, so you could also head to a nearby bar and grab a beverage instead of fighting the crowd. After watching the contest, if you haven't lost your appetite forever, grab a hot dog for yourself at Nathan's famous flagship location.

03 of 07

Visit The NY Aquarium

Entrance to New York Aquarium, Wildlife Conservation Society, Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A.
Barry Winiker/Getty Images

For a break from the midday sun and throngs of people enjoying all that Coney Island has to offer, head over to the NY Aquarium to watch the fun world of fishes, penguins, sharks, and other sea life. The NY Aquarium often offers discounts on holidays, but be prepared to face longer lines and bigger crowds due to the popularity of Coney Island on Independence Day. Make sure to visit the roof on top of the shark exhibit where you get stunning views of the ocean. 

04 of 07

See the Sideshows

Colorful iconic vintage freak show banners and murals hanging on the facade of the Coney Island Museum building in Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York City, USA
Busà Photography/Getty Images

Once you're finished hanging with the aquatic life at the Aquarium, walk back down the boardwalk to Coney Island USA for a hilarious, only-in-Brooklyn sideshow. This 45-minute production includes outrageous spectacles, circus performers, and even the world-famous bearded lady (if you're lucky — she also has tenure at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn). All tickets cost $15 on the Fourth and must be purchases at the door. The show runs continuously from open to close. It takes around 45 minutes from when you enter to see a complete performance

Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07

Stroll the Boardwalk

Coney Island Boardwalk at sunset, Brooklyn, NYC
Alexander Spatari/Getty Images

There's plenty of stuff to see and delectable treats to enjoy all along the boardwalk — especially during the summer. So once you've enjoyed the freak show, stroll on the boardwalk and grab some treats at the historic ​Williams Candy Shop on Surf Avenue. For a sobering moment, visit the moving Wall of Remembrance, dedicated to first responders who lost thier lives on September 11, 2001. It is free and open to the public.

06 of 07

Watch the Brooklyn Cyclones Play Baseball

Brooklyn Cyclones mascot Sandy
Cindy Ord / Contributor/Getty Images

On July 4 the Brooklyn Cyclones will play a baseball game against the Aberdeen IronBirds. Enjoy a kosher hot dog, giant pretzel, or a chicken wrap from the kiosks at the far edge of the stadium.

Alternatively, if you don't have a ticket to the game, spend a few hours at Coney Island's amusement park where you can ride the Cyclone, take the kiddies to Luna Park, or scream your heart out on thrill rides in the "Scream Zone." Although the Coney Island Amusement Park and the Boardwalk have suffered fire damage multiple times throughout their history, this historic site has mostly been in operation for the last 100 years.

07 of 07

Have Dinner With a Side of Fireworks

Fireworks at Coney Island in the summer
Cheryl Zibisky/Getty Images 

For dinner, you can buy some more fast food, take the 30-minute boardwalk walk over to Brighton Beach for some borscht, or sit in a sidewalk cafe and sip a vodka in this festive seaside neighborhood. Make sure you're on the boardwalk for the 9 p.m. fireworks display, which might not be as long or big as the Macy's Independence Day Fireworks over Manhattan, but it's still worth viewing.

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