The 20 Best Things to Do on the 4th of July in NYC

The Ultimate Guide to Spending the 4th of July in NYC

July 4th is one of the most celebrated national holidays in the United States. Given that the celebration falls into the summer, it gives you plenty of fun things to do on the 4th of July in NYC.

The 4th of July is officially called Independence Day, on which the United States of America commemorates its independence from the British on July 4, 1776. In other words, the 4th of July is the birthday of the nation!

This year the annual Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks will be held for the 47th time!

If you’re still not sure about celebrating Independence Day in New York City, check out my guides to 4th of July in Miami or 4th of July in Chicago!

My 20 Favorite Things to Do on the 4th of July in NYC

Some of the best things to do in NYC on the 4th of July are not exclusively activities for that very day alone, but also are great activities you can take advantage of throughout the entire summer in New York.

On the other hand, there are several events taking place that are specific to the 4th of July, meaning that you only have one chance to attend them!

These Are The Best Ways To Celebrate The 4th Of July In NYC This Year

  1. 01

    Watch the jaw-dropping 4th of July fireworks

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    If you are spending the 4th of July in NYC, you cannot get around Macy’s 4th of July fireworks! Every year, the 4th of July in New York is celebrated by launching an amazing firework spectacular, sponsored by the well-known department store Macy’s.

    2023 will mark the 47th annual fireworks show illuminating New York’s skyline. The fireworks in New York are the nation’s largest independence day celebration, launching more than 60,000 shells to ignite the night. This isn’t the only superlative event sponsored by Macy’s – there is also Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and Macy’s Flower Show just to name a few.


    • Fireworks start at 9:25 PM


    • East River between 26th and 40th Street

    Don’t miss it: In my article about the 👉 4th of July fireworks in New York you find the best places to watch the fireworks and everything else you need to know!

  2. 02

    Take a 4th of July fireworks cruise

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    A unique way to see the fireworks on the 4th of July is to watch them from the water! There are several cruises that have made it their mission to provide the perfect experience. Instead of storming into the crowds on the streets, you can enjoy a much more relaxing 4th of July evening. The night cruise offers you amazing views of New York’s skyline, food, beverages and most importantly, unobstructed views of the fireworks!

    For these reasons, 4th of July Cruises are much sought after by tourists and locals alike. There’s no need to worry about getting somewhere extremely early or fighting to get a good spot before waiting an eternity for the fireworks are launched.

    One of the most popular cruises is the 4th of July Evening Cruise by Circle Line, but you can find the  best fireworks cruise for you with the help of our more detailed 👉 comparison of the best 4th of July cruises in New York.

    The 4th of July cruises are very popular and the number of seats are limited – the tickets sell out very quickly!

  3. 03

    Visit Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Championship

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    For another 4th of July New York event that’s just as iconic as the fireworks show, come by Coney Island’s 4th of July Hot Dog Eating Contest. Taking place at noon on July 4th, 2023, Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest pits the world’s greatest competitive eaters against each other in one of the most well-known contests.

    Officially sanctioned by the International Federation of Competitive Eating, this event is often witnessed by thousands of people. The current record for the event is 76 hot dogs in 10 minutes, held by Joey Chestnut. Will you be there to see the record get broken?

    This free event is open to the public and takes place at Maimonides Park, at the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues in Coney Island, Brooklyn.

  4. 04

    Fourth of July Pre-Fireworks Party

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    Not sure who you want to spend the 4th of July with yet? Come to this fun party in the heart of Manhattan! This event takes place BEFORE the famous fireworks. Here you can meet people from all over the city by participating in some icebreakers and other games. Drinks and snacks will be available for purchase on site, and afterwards you can head towards the East River with your new friends to watch Macy’s 4th of July fireworks.

    Tickets are $25 per person and the dress code is casual/comfortable.

    • When? July 4, 2023 – 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
    • Where? Stout at Grand Central
  5. 05

    Visit the 9/11 Memorial

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    Every year, each of the 2,983 victims of 9/11 and February 26, 1993 are specially honored on 4th of July with an American flag distributed by volunteers. This is an annual 9/11 Memorial tradition and I get goosebumps every time I stand there.

  6. 06

    Have a BBQ in New York's most beautiful parks

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    What’s more typical than enjoying the 4th of July by having a BBQ (or picnic) in a park? Lucky for you, New York City is home to numerous, beautiful parks that let you escape the bustling city life. For you, that means sunshine, super delicious food and a splendid time! If you still want to be around people, head to Sheep Meadow in Central Park to join many others having their barbecues. This is your chance!

    Grilling and barbecuing in Central Park is only allowed 3 days a year: on Memorial Day, the July 4th and Labor Day. Just note that the use of propane gas is strictly prohibited!

    If you are only visiting New York and looking to buy a reasonably priced grill, you should head to Best Buy. You can get a small, portable grill for about 35 bucks. Everything you want to put onto the grill can be bought at the supermarket, for example, Whole Foods. You will find the closest Whole Foods to Sheep Meadows at 10 Columbus Circle.

  7. 07

    Start Your Day Right with a 4th of July Brunch Cruise

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    This 4th of July brunch cruise is one of the newest boat tours where you can celebrate the Independence Day of the USA in a wonderfully relaxed way. The ship has three different decks where you can combine sightseeing with brunch. The icing on the cake is the live DJ on board who will entertain you on this tour from George Washington Bridge to Brooklyn Bridge.

  8. 08

    Enjoy the unforgettable views at Honorable William Wall

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    This is my discovery of the summer in New York – the floating boathouse from Manhattan Sailing Club! It is called Honorable William Wall and is located right next to Ellis Island.

    Especially in the evening, when you look at the illuminated Manhattan, it is just sensational here. If you are looking for really cool thing to do on 4th of July in NYC you definitely should check out Honorable William Wall and check if there are tickets available for 4th of July!

  9. 09

    Celebrate 4th of July at The Edge

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    Celebrate the American Independence Day above the rooftops of New York! The Edge is a great observation deck and from up here you’ll have the best view of the famous fireworks.

    With the purchase of a ticket you not only have access to the Observation Deck, but you also get a glass of champagne (21 years and older) or a non-alcoholic drink and a snack. In addition, a live DJ will provide you with music.

    Click here if you need more information or want to buy a ticket for the 4th of July celebration at The Edge.

  10. 10

    Enjoy the day at the beach

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    To escape the bustling city life, even more, you should head to the beach as most New Yorkers do! Manhattan will soon have its first beach at Hudson River Park. Until then, and because of New York’s murky waters, the best option is to ride the subway to Coney Island. Besides just swimming, sunbathing and relaxing at the beach, you can also spend some time at Luna Park or watch the annual Hot Dog Eating Contest at Nathan’s Famous.

    Especially if you are traveling as a family, spending the 4th of July in NYC at the beach may be the preferred option for your kids!

    My tip: these are the best beaches to celebrate 4th of July in NYC.

  11. 11

    Enjoy the 4th of July Fireworks at Coney Island Beach

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    The Coney Island Fireworks is a free event open to the public and held at the Riegelmann Boardwalk right on Coney Island Beach in Brooklyn.

    After the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Championship, stick around to see Coney Island’s spectacular display of fireworks. Visible from the boardwalk, this show generally starts at 10pm and lasts about fifteen minutes.

  12. 12

    Celebrate the 4th of July at the iconic Empire State Building!

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    Spend the evening of the 4th of July on the famous Empire State Building and watch the 4th of July fireworks from the Observation Deck on the 86th floor! By purchasing a ticket, you’ll have access to the 80th and 86th floors, as well as all exhibits. There will also be delicious hors d’oeuvres from State Grill and Bar and an open bar. For two hours, you can grab premium beer, wine and other beverages at the bar while a live DJ provides the music.  This year’s fireworks display will feature more than 60,000 rockets and lighting effects in the sky. Can you imagine how awesome that must look from the 86th floor!?

    Tickets start at $572 and admission is 21 and over.

    • When? July 4, 2023 – starting at 7:30 p.m.
    • Where? Empire State Building
  13. 13

    Satisfy your shopping needs

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    As many people will leave town to go to the beach on the 4th of July in NYC, you could take advantage of that and have a great day of shopping! Stores will be open as usual, meaning that the only difference will be smaller crowds! You have plenty of options in Manhattan if you prefer to stay local.

    Our ultimate shopping guide will help you explore the best shopping spots in the city. Another option would be to take a bus to an outlet. There are several outlets in proximity to New York City: The Mills at Jersey Gardens in Elizabeth, New Jersey or the Woodbury Common Premium Outlets in Central Valley, New York. You can easily be back in time for the 4th of July fireworks in the evening!

  14. 14

    Visit one of the amazing observations decks New York has to offer

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    In 2021, New York’s most impressive and iconic buildings put up quite a show. At the 4th of July Party at One World Observatory, visitors have a chance to enjoy a great view of the One World Trade Center, enjoy drinks and bites, and an almost eye-level view of fireworks. This year, One World Observatory will host two events to celebrate the 4th of July.

    If you want to celebrate the 4th of July at the One World Observatory check the official website for Tickets.

    Similarly, the Empire State Building had its own unique 4th of July NYC celebration. With a party split between the 80th floor and the observation deck on the 86th floor for the Macy’s fireworks, this is one of the most impressive ways to see the Macy’s fireworks display.

    We are still waiting on official words for the 2023 events, so keep your eye on this link for the official announcement by the Empire State Building.

  15. 15

    Have a fancy dinner with a view

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    The restaurant Manhatta is one of the best restaurants in town and is perfect if you are looking for a restaurant for a special occasion. Not only is the food here at the highest level – so are you! Located on the 60th floor, it offers you a magnificent view of the city!

    My tip: these are the best restaurants in NYC right now.

  16. 16

    PILOT Brooklyn: have a relaxed time and enjoy 4th of July with amazing views

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    As you know, we love the two-master “Grand Banks” at Piers 25 in Manhattan. The same operators now have a counterpart, the Pilot Brooklyn, at Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Enjoy a sensational view of Manhattan with a drink in hand – or enjoy smaller (but delicious) seafood dishes!

  17. 17

    Gallow Green Rooftop Garden

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    Gallow Green is a unique rooftop bar located above McKittrick Hotel. What makes it so special is its quaint and green atmosphere. The whole bar is overgrown with foliage and certainly does its name justice: It looks like a garden! Not to be forgotten are the delicious drinks that are served there.

    It’s even listed in our Rooftop Bar Guide as one of the 43 Best Rooftop Bars in New York.

  18. Steffen Kneist Loving New York

    4th of July Rooftop Parties

    If you want to celebrate the 4th of July on a Rooftop then check out our article about the best 4th of July rooftop parties!


  19. 18

    Spend the day in one of the Irish Pubs in NYC with friends!

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    The bar Connolly’s Pub and Restaurant is an Irish pub like it is in the book and is for me one of the best pubs in New York. A huge, rustic bar, lots of colourful taps and tons of good whiskey immediately attract attention. The kitchen is also excellent. The burgers are a blast!

  20. 19

    Roosevelt Island Fourth of July Family Fireworks Celebration

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    Roosevelt Island is hosting an annual 4th of July celebration, especially suited for families. There are tons of activities and an extensive entertainment program for big and small, including bouncy houses and food.

    Attending the event is free, but as availability is limited, tickets are required. You can claim free tickets online. They will be released on in June. Another great thing about the celebration on Roosevelt Island is that you can get there by the basically free Roosevelt Island Tramway, which is a great New York experience in itself. It’s included in your MetroCard when you own an unlimited pass so you won’t have to pay extra.

    The July 4, 2023 event is currently TBD.

  21. 20

    Indulge Yourself At Lobster Fest

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    If you arrive in NYC for the 4th of July, you’ll have the chance to indulge yourself on one of the region’s most delicious foods: lobster! Usually on July 2nd Lobster Fest NYC is scheduled to take place at Coney Art Walls.

    This Brooklyn-centric party features celebrated local radio station Hot 97 complimentary lobster and crab-inspired dishes from 3pm – 5pm, and complimentary tequila from 3pm – 4:30pm. Plus, local vendors will be selling creative and delicious lobster dishes fit for the whole family. If you’ll be in town, you won’t want to miss out. The event starts at 3pm and goes until 10pm. 

    To find out more about Lobster Fest, visit the event’s official page.

Frequently Asked Questions About 4th of July in New York

Are restaurants & shops open on the 4th of July NYC?

In New York, as with the rest of the US, the 4th of July holiday weekend is a chance for restaurants and shops to offer discounts and sales. While you can expect them to be open at some point during the weekend, it’s best to confirm beforehand for Tuesday, 4th of July, 2023.

Depending on how centrally located the shops and restaurants are, the actual holiday may be a chance for the restaurant to have limited hours – or to be closed completely.

What attractions are open on July 4th?

Most tourist attractions in New York are not affected by the 4th of July. Major attractions, such as the


Is New York's public transportation affected by the 4th of July?

The MTA will run a weekend schedule on the 4th of July, meaning that you can still use New York subways and buses as usual. Additionally, as part of the NYPC Security Plan, you should prepare for some street closures from 3 pm that will affect the area where the fireworks are launched.

Are stores open on the 4th of July?

Although most people are enjoying a day off on the 4th of July, everything except post offices, banks, and the stock market will stay open. Nevertheless, you should inform yourself about the adjusted hours on the 4th of July, as some stores may open late or close early.

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About the author

I'm a true New York fan! Not only have I visited the city over 25 times but also have I spent several months here at a time. On my blog I show you the best and most beautiful spots of the city, so that you have a really good time! You can also find lots of insider tips in our New York travel guide. Also check out my hotel finder for New York!

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