New York City celebrates July 4 in spectacular fashion every year, making this week a thrilling time to visit the area. There are street festivals, food trucks and parks full of American-themed entertainment. However, there are also many missteps that can derail the revelry. Here are the best things to do for Independence Day and advice on how to get them done smoothly.
Where to See the Fireworks
This year, the 37th annual Macy’s Fourth of July show will light up the Hudson River with more than 40,000 fireworks lit from barges in the middle of the water set between 24th and 42nd streets. View the show on the west side of Manhattan below 59th Street and from the New Jersey side of the Hudson River in Hoboken.
There are several strategies for making the most of your fireworks experience. Choose between a picnic in one of the parks or piers along the Hudson or invest in tickets for a river cruise to watch the colorful show from the deck of a boat.
What to Know Before You Go
Here is some more advice for any would-be NYC fireworks viewer:
1. If you plan to picnic, come early. Bring your own meal or join in on the food truck craze and opt for street fare instead. Prime spots are scouted in the afternoon and fill up quickly, especially popular locations such as along High Line park. Give yourself extra time to arrive as subways and streets are crowded. North of 59th Street, the views of the fireworks are mostly obstructed.
2. Don’t rely only on taxis, as they can be hard to find and will sit in traffic without traveling very far.
3. Views from the Hoboken side of the Hudson River are spectacular (you watch the fireworks with the backdrop of the New York City skyline), but transportation back to Manhattan can be difficult. Taxis aren’t easily available and the PATH trains are incredibly crowded. If you plan on staying overnight in Manhattan, it might be wise to stick to that side of the river.
4. River cruises are one of the best ways to witness the fireworks, but give yourself extra time to arrive at the departure point and be sure to ask exactly what your ticket includes. The boat will leave on time, with or without ticketed passengers.
Other Holiday Activities
A New York City Fourth of July getaway isn’t just about fireworks. With the bevy of events available, though, we needed to narrow it down to a terrific trio:
- The Great Fourth of July Festival. This street fest is held in the historic district of lower Manhattan on Water Street from Fulton to Broad streets. The food- and arts-centered event offers the rare chance to celebrate in New York City streets.
- Nathan’s Hot-Dog-Eating Contest. A quirky annual tradition takes place at noon in Coney Island, home of the original Nathan’s restaurant. Coney Island’s boardwalk and beach are easily accessible by subway, leaving you with no excuse for not coming out to cheer on wiener-devouring legend Joey Chestnut in his quest for a seventh consecutive title.
- Join the locals. New Yorkers who have seen the fireworks many times before aren’t always set on joining the crowds. Follow the locals and opt to take in the great outdoors at one of New York City’s parks and sidewalk cafés during the holiday.
Photo Courtesy of iStock-Veni