July 4th Marathon of Fun on Coney Island

How to Spend 12 Hours in Brooklyn on Independence Day

••• Coney Island offers tons of fun on July 4th. Photo by Ellen Freudenheim

If you're traveling to New York City on the Fourth of July, head on down to Coney Island for a full 12-hour 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 this holiday. Here's how to spend your time from 9:30 in the morning until 9:30 at night in Coney Island on July 4th this year.

With easy subway access, plenty to do, and a lot of big events planned throughout the day on July 4, 2018, there's no reason to be bored on the Fourth of July if you're visiting Brooklyn.

Arrival and Beach Time: 9:30 a.m.

As many as 120,000 people can flock to the Coney Island beach on a hot day, and July 4th is usually pretty darn hot. So slather on that suntan lotion, bring plenty of water, and go splash in the waves. Start your Independence Day holiday with some early sunbathing by arriving before 9:30, but don't swim until the lifeguards arrive to start their shifts at 10 a.m.

Hot Dog Eating Contest: 11:30 a.m.

Take a break at 11:30 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, you can grab a hot dog yourself at Nathan's famous flagship location.

The NY Aquarium: 12:45 p.m.

To give yourself a bit of a break from the midday sun and throngs of people enjoying all that Coney Island has to offer, consider heading over to the NY Aquarium to watch the educational 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 for Independence Day.

Sideshows by the Seashore: 2 p.m.

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, weird spectacles, circus performers, and even the world-famous bearded lady (if you're lucky—she also has tenure at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn). It's billed as "the last permanently housed place in the USA where you can experience the thrill of a traditional ten-in-one circus sideshow. They're here, they're real and they're alive! Freaks, wonders and human curiosities!" Keep in mind that you cannot pre-order tickets to the show, but their productions run every hour between 1 and 8 p.m.

Boardwalk Adventure: 3 p.m.

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, you can stroll on the boardwalk and grab some treats at the historic Williams Candy Shop.on Surf Avenue, or a sobering moment, visit the MCU Stadium's moving Wall of Remembrance, dedicated to the fallen of September 11, 2001, which is free and open to the public.

Brooklyn Cyclones Baseball: 6 p.m.

On Wednesday, July 4, 2018, the Brooklyn Cyclones will play a baseball game against the Aberdeen IronBirds. Almost nothing is more American than baseball, which makes this a great opportunity to celebrate the birth of the nation enjoying "America's favorite pass time." If you're hungry, you can enjoy a kosher hot dog, giant pretzel, or a chicken wrap from the kiosks at the far edge of the stadium.

Alternative Plan at the Amusement Park: 6 p.m.

If you don't have a ticket to the game, you 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.

Dinner and Fireworks: 8 p.m

For dinner, you can diet, or buy some more fast food. Or, take the 30-minute boardwalk walk over to Brighton Beach for some borscht or to sit in a sidewalk cafe and sip a vodka or enjoy these activities in this festive seaside neighborhood. If you're running late, either grab it to go or hurry on over to 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 sure to but a nice cherry on top of day spent at Coney Island.