5 Best Free Things to Do for 4th of July Weekend in NYC

New York City 4th of July Fireworks

 jqpubliq / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

What better way to celebrate America's Independence than by doing something fun on Fourth of July weekend that's... free! From fireworks (of course!) to swimming pools, here are five fun and family-friendly things happening in New York City on Fourth of July weekend, whether you're staying in the heart of the Big Apple in Manhattan, or venturing out to one of the outer boroughs—Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, or the Bronx—to experience more of the city.

01 of 05

Enjoy Amazing Views From the Staten Island Ferry

Statue of Liberty as seen from the Staten Island Ferry

AlbertPego / Getty Images

South Ferry Plaza, 4 South St, New York, NY 10004, USA

Board the Staten Island Ferry from the Whitehall Ferry Terminal in Lower Manhattan for a free ride to the St. George Terminal in Staten Island. During the 25-minute voyage (each way), you'll be treated to iconic views of the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty, as well as nearby Jersey City across the water.

Whether you choose to check out more of Staten Island once you get there is up to you, but you will need to exit the ferry and re-board to return to Manhattan either way. Try to avoid morning and evening rush hour for the best experience, as you'll want to be able to spread out and take as many photos as possible while enjoying the view. Needless to say, it's much easier to do that when you're not caught up in a crowd of people commuting to or from their offices in the city.

02 of 05

Watch the Fireworks or Attend a Street Festival

Macy's 4th of July Fireworks in New York City
Macy's / Kent Miller Studios
East River, New York, NY, USA

Nothing says Fourth of July revelry like fireworks bursting overhead, and no destination does Independence Day pyrotechnics better than New York City. Macy's plays host to the nation's largest Fourth of July fireworks display, illuminating the evening skies above Brooklyn and the East River—or New Jersey and the Hudson River on the opposite side of Manhattan, depending on the year, as they have historically alternated locations.

NYC's street fair calendar is also in full swing throughout July, with glorious sunny days to beckon you outdoors. Every weekend this month sees street fair options crop up across Manhattan, where you can revel in the warm weather, and take to the pedestrianized streets in search of food stands, bargain shopping, chair massages, live entertainment, people-watching, and more. Try the Great July 4th Festival on Fulton Street on July 4th where you can try new foods, buy art, and more.

03 of 05

Catch a Free Flick in Bryant Park

A full house at the HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival

Bryant Park Corporation

New York, NY 10018, USA
Phone +1 212-768-4242

One of Manhattan's most beloved outdoor cinema events, Bryant Park Movie Nights, runs each year from mid-June 10 to mid-August. Every Monday night you can see classic films—previous showings have included everything from "Hairspray" and "Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark" to "Beverly Hills Cop II" and "The Godfather: Part II."

Films roll starting at 8 p.m., though the lawn opens at 5 p.m. Come early to throw down a blanket and secure a good spot. And don't forget to bring a picnic—there's a Whole Foods on Sixth Avenue near the entrance of the park if you want to pick up some snacks, while beer, wine, and other treats are on sale at the Fountain Terrace beginning at 4 p.m.

04 of 05

Take a Dip in a Pool

People swimming in Hamilton Fish Pool in NYC
Malcolm Pinckney
Houston and Pitt Street Hamilton Fish Park, E Houston St, New York, NY 10002, USA
Phone +1 212-387-7691

With temperatures constantly on the rise, opt to cool down at one of the Big Apple's favorite watery oases. Manhattan alone is home to a dozen free outdoor public pools and four "mini-pools," all run by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Be sure to check the website for more options in Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and the Bronx if that's where you're spending your time.

New York City's outdoor public pool season typically starts Memorial Day weekend and goes through Labor Day weekend, while additional indoor pools are available year round. Pool hours tend to be from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. with a break from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. to allow for cleaning. Check the website to see which ones will be open near you when you're in town over Fourth of July weekend so you can enjoy a quick dip between all your NYC sightseeing adventures.

Continue to 5 of 5 below.
05 of 05

Head Over to the High Line

The High Line in Manhattan, NY

TripSavvy / Brakethrough Media 

New York, NY 10011, USA
Phone +1 212-500-6035

Manhattan's High Line has become one of the city's greatest free attractions. Whether it's your first visit or your hundredth, this elevated urban park, located on a formerly abandoned railroad trestle, is one of the city's best green retreats.

For a real treat and a unique view of Manhattan's many local neighborhoods, walk it from start to finish. The High Line, open daily from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., runs from Gansevoort Street at its southern end up to 34th Street at its northern edge. Elevators are available along 10th Avenue at 14th, 23rd, and 30th Streets, while the park is also reachable from 30th Street at Hudson Yards and a number of staircase entry point along the route.

Guided walking tours area available Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday during the summertime. Check the website for dates and times of events, as the High Line is a major hub of community activity all year long, making it a fun place to take a dance lesson, try an outdoor meditation or wellness class, or just take a stroll or have a picnic alongside the locals.

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5 Best Free Things to Do for 4th of July Weekend in NYC