Looking for the best 4th of July events in New York City? We got you. One of the best things to do in NYC in summer is to celebrate independence day in this historic city tied to the earliest days of the new nation and the whole reason why this holiday exists in the first place!
As the birthplace of American independence, New York City offers a vibrant and unforgettable experience to celebrate this iconic national holiday. From dazzling fireworks displays and lively parades and events, the Big Apple is teeming with an array of activities for locals and visitors alike.
In this guide, we will unveil the best things to do in NYC on the 4th of July, ensuring you make the most of this special day in the city.
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Things to do in NYC for the 4th of July
Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks
Since 1976, Macy’s brings one of the best traditions and 4th of July celebrations in New York, the Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks extravaganza!
Blasted over the East River between Manhattan and Brooklyn, there are over 60,000 shells at a rate of 2,400 shells per minute launched off 5 different barges lasting a whopping 25 minutes! This show includes not only classic fireworks but special shapes and designs that make spectators ooh and ahh at the sky!
Better yet, this is one of the best things to do in NYC for the 4th of July for free! You just have to find a good viewing spot! There are official viewing areas, although these fill up quickly. There are also some areas close to the East River where they launch the fireworks that seem like good viewing spots for the fireworks, but are actually closed to the public! Spots like Brooklyn Bridge Park are not available to the public!
In the past, spectators have been able to witness the Macy’s 4th of July fireworks from FDR Drive in Manhattan with access points at E 42nd Street, E 34th Street (in the past this had ADA accessibility areas as well), and E 23rd Streets along First Avenue.
The 4th of July fireworks in NYC start at 9:30 PM EST.
If you do want to see the NYC 4th of July fireworks in person from one of the viewing areas, you’ll want to arrive at your spot hours in advance. It’s best to bring a blanket and pack some snacks and anything you’ll need to be comfortable for a few hours. These spots are highly competitive!
Another one of our favorite spots for viewing the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks on the East River is from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. It’s best to check the official website to see what areas around here are open to the public to view the fireworks too if you’re coming from Brooklyn vs Midtown Manhattan.
Watch Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks on TV
Perhaps going out to crowded, in-person events isn’t your thing. That’s okay because you can still enjoy the best of NYC 4th of July from the comfort of your hotel room or home by watching or streaming the fireworks on NBC’s national broadcast!
This star-studded event also includes performances before the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks start at 9:30 PM. The broadcast starts at 8 PM and ends at 10 PM EST when the fireworks are over.
Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest
One of the all-time best things to do in NYC on the 4th of July is head to the annual Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest! This infamous international contest is an annual competitive eating event held on the 4th of July in New York at Coney Island outside the original Nathan’s Famous location on Surf and Stillwell Avenues. Participants compete to see who can consume the largest number of hot dogs (buns and all) in 10 minutes.
The contest is organized by Nathan’s Famous and has gained worldwide attention because of how over-the-top and fierce the competition gets! In fact, the contest is televised on ESPN each year and has gained more and more attention globally from its star competitors like Takeru Kobayashi and Joey Chestnut.Spectators gather outside of the Nathan’s Famous Surf and Stillwell Avenue location for the women’s competition starting at 10:45 AM, although we recommend getting there earlier if you want a good spot as this area fills up quickly and it gets hard to see the stage. The men’s competition starts at noon.If you plan on going, don’t forget to wear any hot dog-related clothing or costumes you may have if you want to fit in! Or make a homemade sign!After the contest, it’s worth checking out all the awesome things to do in Coney Island like ride the famous Wonder Wheel or check out the Coney Island Sideshow!And if you’re curious about the history of this event and the history of Coney Island, that’s also fascinating! The hot dog eating contest on July 4th has been held at the original location since the early 1970s.It’s worth mentioning though that Nathan’s has always had aggressive marketing during Coney Island’s earliest of days and it’s rumored that the event started on July 4th, 1916 when four immigrants wanted to prove how patriotic they were by having a hot dog-eating contest. However, that has yet to be proved and some believe that the origins started back in 1916, some believe it started in the 1940s as a protest to the war, and some say that it actually all started in the 1970s.Regardless, it’s been going on since the 1970s at least, and one of the most famous 4th of July events in NYC that are watched by over 2 million viewers at home on ESPN and around 40,000 spectators in person each year!
4th of July NYC Rooftop Parties
There are so many awesome rooftop bars and restaurants in New York City and a few of them offer special 4th of July events in NYC too!! All of which are ticketed, so be sure to snag your tickets before they’re gone.
What’s awesome is that there are several great rooftop bars in Williamsburg that offer stunning views of the skyline and are perfect for viewing the 4th of July fireworks as well! Westlight at the William Vale has a 4th of July party on their outdoor deck soaring 22 stories high complete with DJ sets and a particularly awesome view of the East River and a prime spot to see the fireworks!
Another great viewing spot for Macy’s 4th of July fireworks is from Harriet’s Rooftop at 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge in DUMBO. They have a special ticketed event that not only offers a prime location for seeing the fireworks right along the East River, but they also have live music, DJ sets, and cocktail specials!
Somewhere Nowhere also has one of the best rooftop pools in NYC and offers a special 4th of July celebration in New York for the fireworks! This party is ‘clothing optional and features BBQ, drink specials, and more fun for viewing the fireworks! Not to mention there are famous DJs and the party goes until 4 AM!
Manhatta also has a sky-high 4th of July event in New York featuring a front-row seat with floor-to-ceiling views of the Macy’s 4th of July fireworks! Tickets also include BBQ and an open bar!
Celebrate at an Observation Deck
We LOVE the best observation decks in New York City, and come this 4th of July in New York there’s more reason to love them as a few have their own 4th of July celebrations!
Summit One Vanderbilt is easily my personal favorite observation deck as it’s NOT only an observation deck but an immersive art installation with unbelievable views of just about every icon of New York City including the best views of the Empire State Building and my favorite, the Chrysler Building from it’s reflective viewing room!
Summit One Vanderbilt has a special 4th of July celebration in New York that includes entrance from 7:30 PM to 10:30 PM to view the fireworks like you’ve never seen them before! Each ticket also includes two drinks and unbelievable views of the city!
Another one of the best things to do in NYC for the 4th of July and 4th of July Events in NYC is from the Empire State Building’s 4th of July Celebration! Enjoy an unbelievable view of the skyline and fireworks from this timeless observation deck soaring 86 stories high! Each ticket also includes access to light bites, an open bar, and live music from a DJ!
Go Visit the Statue of Liberty
Looking for cool things to do in NYC for the 4th of July during the day? How about doing one of the most iconic things you can do in the city by visiting the Statue of Liberty?
Serving as a symbol of freedom and democracy, the Statue of Liberty embodies the spirit of Independence Day. Since 1886, the Statue of Liberty represents and symbolizes a beacon of hope and opportunity welcoming immigrants and visitors to the United States.
It serves as a reminder of the country’s core values, such as equality, diversity, and the pursuit of happiness.
There are several ways you can enjoy the Statue of Liberty on the 4th of July in New York, here are a few of our favorites.
- Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island Fast Track Access: 30-minute live guided tour of Battery Park including guaranteed access & priority boarding to the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island ferry. You can enjoy Ellis Island with audio guides or upgrade to an escorted tour.
- Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island Tour with Reserve Access: Visit the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island with priority reserve access to the ferry line. Learn the history with a local expert guide on this 4-hour tour.
- Statue of Liberty with Pedestal Access & Ellis Island Tour: Tour of Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island with Pedestal access with a professional licensed guide on a 4-hour tour.
- Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island & Pre-Ferry Tour: Includes a 30-minute live guided tour of Battery Park before heading to the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island. Explore with audio guides or upgrade to include a fully-escorted guided tour of Liberty Island and Ellis Island.
- Private Ellis Island Tour with Statue of Liberty Access: Personalized, small group private tour of Ellis Island & Liberty Island with ferry access and access to the Pedestal.
4th of July Boat Parties
For unique 4th of July events in NYC check out the various boat parties available, several of which are also family-friendly and welcoming of all ages.
This 4th of July Fireworks Yacht Cruise offers guests (12 years old and up) to celebrate the 4th of July from aboard a yacht in the New York Harbor with a splendid view of the fireworks! Tickets include access to an open bar (for guests 21+ and over with an ID) and snacks!
This All-Inclusive Party Cruise is another great option for seeing Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks from the water! First you you set sail along the Hudson River passing iconic New York City landmarks before getting an unbelievable view of the firework show from the water! This cruise includes a live DJ, drinks, and a buffet! Plus, this cruise is family-friendly!
This 4th of July party cruise includes a buffet dinner, drinks, a premium open bar (with non-alcohol options for minors), DJ, and a dance floor all aboard a yacht! After your dinner and dancing you’ll get to enjoy an unbelievable view of the Macy’s 4th of July fireworks aboard the yacht!
For more great family-friendly 4th of July events in New York City, check out this 4th of July Family Fireworks Party Cruise that sails past some of the most iconic landmarks of the city, features an open bar for the adults, includes a BBQ dinner, and offers as great view of the fireworks!
Coney Island 4th of July Fireworks
Did you know that Coney Island has fireworks every Friday from late June through Labor Day? That’s right! That means you don’t even need to show up on the 4th of July to see the fireworks.
But, this guide is all about 4th of July events in New York City and Coney Island does offer special fireworks for Independence Day too!
If you attended the other famous 4th of July event here earlier in the day watching people slam hot dogs down, you may not want to go far! Luckily, you have plenty of restaurants and attractions, not to mention the beach to enjoy all day long if you wanted to here at Coney Island until the evening!
At 9:30 PM on the 4th of July, Coney Island also offers a firework show at the Coney Island Pier and Riegelmann Boardwalk (at West 15th Street).
Whether you’re parked on the beach, boardwalk, or hanging out at the amusement parks, this is another one of the best things to do in NYC on 4th of July!
One of the oldest 4th of July events in New York City and celebrations is the Travis Parade at Staten Island! The parade features bands and all kinds of festive floats along its triangular route.
If you’re looking for a classic 4th of July celebration in New York, this is it!
This 4th of July celebration in New York starts at noon at Independence Park (corner of Victory & Glenn Streets) at Staten Island.
This event is a bit hard to get to without a car, if you do plan on visiting be sure to check the road closures so you are able to get to the event!
The Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks in New York City are on the East River centered around Midtown Manhattan.
New Yorkers celebrate the 4th of July by attending the annual Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks, bbq in the park, hit up the beach, attend the annual hot dog eating contest at Coney Island, and attend once a year events happening all throughout the city.
The 4th of July in NYC is often crowded around the fireworks, but throughout the day you’ll find that there are less locals as they often leave the city for vacation.