How To Spend the 4th July in NYC | Independence Day Activities

June 25, 2024

Independence Day is a time-honored American tradition, and if you’re visiting New York City, it’s a great opportunity to celebrate with NYC’s most exciting festivities!

Get the most out of the 4th July NYC events with our guide below, with fun for the whole family. 

Is 4th July a good time to visit NYC? 

The summer months are a great time to visit New York City, and when there’s a national holiday, it’s even better! With so many 4th of July events in NYC going on, there’s plenty to keep everyone occupied. 

Is New York City busy on July 4th? 

It can get quite busy during the 4th of July NYC celebrations in New York City. It’s baseball season, the weather is warm, and it’s a national holiday. You should expect crowds, but if you book your plans in advance, you can easily see everything there is to see and experience for this one-of-a-kind time in the Big Apple. 

How do people celebrate the 4th of July in New York? 

There are a few iconic ways to celebrate this festive day in the Big Apple. We’ve collected information on the most common activities that locals and visitors to our great city enjoy to celebrate Independence Day below. 

Independence Day Fireworks

One of the best ways to celebrate 4th of July in NYC is to catch the Macy’s Independence Day firework display. This event has been running for nearly 50 years, and is one of the most iconic celebrations in the city. It’s one of the largest displays of its kind in the United States, with nearly 2,400 fireworks set off every minute! The fireworks are set off from a series of barges floating in the East River, meaning there’s hundreds of viewpoints you can choose from to see this airborne display. 

The firework show starts at 9.30pm, but the public will gather a lot earlier than that to secure their place. You can watch the event from several locations across New York City: Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn all offer great viewpoints for this spectacular show.

Best of all, you don’t need to book a ticket! You can just arrive in your chosen place for the famous July 4th NYC event and watch for free. Of course, you can buy tickets to see the display from a private viewing platform (or somewhere as iconic as Summit One Vanderbilt), but this can be expensive.

How to see the 4th July fireworks in NYC

Here are our tips for getting the best view:

  • Research your viewing location: Make sure you research the best spot for watching the fireworks in advance. 
  • Get there early: It’s best to arrive early for the event, as it can get very busy! You may want to arrive in your chosen watch-spot around 3-4 hours before the event starts. 
  • Travel light: The official Macy’s policy is that lawn chairs, large coolers and other bulkier items are not permitted to allow more people to attend.
4th July Fireworks

Hudson River Cruise

One of the best things to do in NYC on July 4th is to book a Hudson river cruise! Get a waterfront view of the NYC skyline and the fireworks display from right beside the action. You can book a river cruise timed to travel during the 45 minute firework display so you don’t miss a thing from the Macy’s firework spectacular.

BBQ in Central Park

One of the most enjoyable things to do in NYC on July 4th is to join the many others who venture to the city’s gorgeous green spaces to have a BBQ. Central Park is a great spot to congregate with tourists and NYC natives alike and celebrate Independence Day. You can eat like a local, with traditional 4th of July foods like grilled burgers and hot dogs, pulled pork sliders, mac’n’cheese, and more. 

Central Park

Rise NY

Stuck for ideas of what to do in NYC on July 4th? You can get an unrivalled view of the city – as well as the Macy’s fireworks display – in our interactive, immersive exhibition close to Times Square. RiseNY is a three-part experience offering a new perspective on the city and its history, taking visitors through the iconic sights and sounds of the Big Apple.

Our immersive 4D ride allows you to see the Macy’s 4th of July fireworks display from above in a soaring experience unlike any other. Experience views of the New York City skyline from a unique perspective you can’t find anywhere else.

Book your tickets now to have an Independence Day event in NYC that you can enjoy year-round!