July 4th is almost here! For travelers headed to New York City this holiday weekend, NYC & Company has rounded up the top attractions and things to do – including some “hidden gems” in all five of the city’s boroughs.
What to See and Do on July 4th
Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Show
East River, New York City
The nation’s largest Independence Day celebration lights up the New York City skyline for the 43rd time this year from the East River, making its return to the Brooklyn Bridge. This year's musical score honors classic American cinema with compositions from films like Star Wars, Superman and E.T., as well as Oscar- and Grammy Award–winning artist Jennifer Hudson performing “Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz as the centerpiece of the show. The fireworks can be seen from any area with an unobstructed view of the sky above the lower East River at or below the Brooklyn Bridge. For a complete guide to viewing locations for this show and others throughout the City, visit macys.com/fireworks.
Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest
Coney Island, Brooklyn
The world’s most iconic hot dog stand kicks off New York City’s 4th of July festivities with its traditional hot dog eating contest at its Coney Island flagship location. Preshow festivities will begin at 10am with a variety of music and dance performances before the women’s competition begins at 10:45am and the men try to take the Mustard Belt from 11-time champion Joey Chestnut at noon. For a complete 4th of July experience, fans can head down the boardwalk to Luna Park and the Brooklyn Cyclones game, complete with a post-game fireworks show (nathansfamous.com).
Empire Outlets July 4th Block Party
St. George, Staten Island
New York City’s first and only outlet shopping destination is celebrating the holiday with a three-day block party on the North Shore of Staten Island. The festivities include live music from featured bands, DJs and roaming street performers, a food truck village, pop-up beer garden, family-friendly programming (face painting, sand-castle building, tie-dye workshop, sidewalk chalk art, outdoor movie screening) and a harborside fireworks display (empireoutlets.nyc).
4th of July at the Seaport District
Seaport District NYC, Manhattan
The Seaport District offers some of the best views of the Macy’s fireworks show, and the neighborhood is celebrating in style. The outdoor Garden Bar will host DJs from noon to 9pm as the neighboring 10 Corso Como Restaurant & Café puts on an all-day aperitivo hour with traditional Italian bites and cocktails. Maker’s Mark, Pepsi, Big Gay Ice Cream, by CHLOE and others will host pop-up activities as well (seaportdistrict.nyc).
One World Observatory
One hundred stories up and with 360-degree views of the New York City skyline, this tower offers the chance to spot all the fireworks displays that will go off throughout the night. The observatory is specially opened until 11pm on the 4th to allow guests to enjoy the display from some of the best viewpoints in the City with cocktails and all-American food served (oneworldobservatory.com).
Statue of Liberty Museum and Monument
Liberty Island, New York
The brand-new Statue of Liberty Museum, opened in mid-May, enables visitors to learn about the patriotic landmark’s history and inception with an interactive theater, curated audio and visual lessons, original sketches and the original torch. Transportation to the museum is by way of Statue Cruises and admission to the museum is free (libertyellisfoundation.org).
July 4th Weekend "Hidden Gems" in the Five Boroughs
On the Williamsburg waterfront, the ruins of the former Domino Sugar Refinery were opened as a five-acre park last summer complete with an elevated catwalk that stretches over five blocks offering views of the surrounding area and across the river in Manhattan. Also here: a taco stand by Danny Meyer, sand volleyball and bocce courts and a factory-inspired playground. The park is easily accessible via NYC Ferry’s East River route to the South Williamsburg or North Williamsburg stop (dominopark.com).
East River, Manhattan
The 172-acre recreational oasis, just a short ferry ride from Lower Manhattan or Brooklyn, allows visitors to cycle with a great view of the harbor, explore diverse landscapes and enjoy free programming including art exhibitions, concerts and sporting events (govisland.com).
Home to the only surf beaches in the five boroughs, the Rockaways are a popular spot for sunbathers, surfers and locals and is easily accessible by the subway and NYC Ferry. Surf lessons are offered by Locals Surf School three times a day, while Rockaway Jet Ski offers kayak, stand-up paddleboard and jet ski rentals and tours, the only of their kind in NYC. (https://www.nycgo.com/boroughs-neighborhoods/queens/the-rockaways)
New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden
Snug Harbor, Staten Island
Part of Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden, the Chinese Scholar’s Garden is a tranquil compilation of several gardens based on architecture from the Ming Dynasty (AD 1368–1644). Its architectural components were entirely fabricated in Suzhou, China (snug-harbor.org).
The Living Art of Roberto Burle Marx at the New York Botanical Garden
The New York Botanical Garden is celebrating summer with its largest botanical display ever. Brazilian Modern: The Living Art of Roberto Burle Marx is an expansive display of lush gardens, vibrant art and the sights and sounds of Brazil in a manner that mimics the Brazilian tropics in the Bronx (nybg.org).