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!
My 18 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
Watch the jaw-dropping 4th of July fireworks
Other Events in Midtown Manhattan
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.
2022 will mark the 46th 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.
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!
Take a 4th of July fireworks cruise
Cruise in Chelsea
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!
Visit Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Championship
Other Events in Coney Island & Brighton Beach
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, 2022, 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.
Visit the 9/11 Memorial
Building in Financial District
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.
Have a BBQ in New York’s most beautiful parks
Other Events in Upper West Side
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.
Start Your Day Right with a 4th of July Brunch Cruise
Cruise in Lower East Side
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.
Enjoy the unforgettable views at Honorable William Wall
Cruise in Lower Manhattan
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!
Enjoy the day at the beach
Other Attraction in Coney Island & Brighton Beach
Coney Island Beach
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!
Enjoy the 4th of July Fireworks at Coney Island Beach
Other Events in Coney Island & Brighton Beach
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.
Satisfy your shopping needs
Other Shopping in SoHo
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!
Visit one of the amazing observations decks New York has to offer
Building in Hudson Yards
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.
Similarly, the Empire State Buildings 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 word for the 2022 events, so keep your eye on this link for the official announcement by the Empire State Building and on this one for One World Observatory.
Have a fancy dinner with a view
French Restaurant in Financial District
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.
PILOT Brooklyn: have a relaxed time and enjoy 4th of July with amazing views
Sea Food Restaurant in Dumbo
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!
Gallow Green Rooftop Garden
Rooftop Bar in Chelsea
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.
Spend the day in one of the Irish Pubs in NYC with friends!
Bar in Midtown Manhattan
CONNOLLY’S + PERFECT PINT
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!
Roosevelt Island Fourth of July Family Fireworks Celebration
Other Tours in Midtown Manhattan
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 rioc.ny.gov 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, 2022 event is currently TBD.
4th of July Fireworks And Food Festival
Other Events in New Jersey
Macy’s 4th Of July Fireworks are undoubtedly impressive. Still, they’re not the only fireworks show in town! If you’re looking for a full festival experience, complete with great street food, music, and more, the Fireworks And Food Festival in Jersey City is just across the Hudson River.
Complete with great views of New York and ideal for those families who are staying in New Jersey during their New York Trip, the Jersey City Fireworks and Food Festival is being hosted on Montgomery Street.
This free event features food from the Jersey City Night Market, artisanal works, drinks, and music up till 9:30pm, when the food stops and the fireworks begin. For more details on this 4th of July Fireworks and Food Festival, head to the official event page.
Indulge Yourself At Lobster Fest
Other Events in Coney Island & Brighton Beach
If you arrive in NYC for the 4th of July weekend a few days early, you’ll have the chance to indulge yourself on one of the region’s most delicious foods: lobster! On Saturday, 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 Monday, 4th of July, 2022. 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
- Empire State Building,
- SUMMIT One Vanderbilt,
- Edge Hudson Yards,
- Top of the Rock,
- One World Observatory,
- the Statue of Liberty,
- Hop-on Hop-off Busses,
- the American Museum of Natural History,
- the Met,
- the 9/11 Memorial Museum,
- the MoMA and many more are operating as usual.
- Only government buildings will stay shut on the national holiday, including the New York Public Library.
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.