Did you know that American independence from Britain was actually formally declared on July 2, 1776? Well, apparently John Adams thought that July 2 was going to go down in history as our now famous 4th of July. And the Declaration of Independence was signed on August 2, 1776, with a few trickling signers a little bit later. So what, then, is the significance of July 4? July 4, 1776 was the day that Congress approved the final text of the Declaration. Sorry, John Adams, you predicted this one wrong, because today, the 4th of July is one of the biggest, if not the most widely celebrated holiday of the summer. The smell of barbecues floats through parks, red, white, and blue paints the city, and families come together to celebrate. Oh, and how could we forget, there’s lots of fireworks. But finding a spot to watch fireworks in NYC for the 4th of July can be pretty stressful with the large crowds that flock to see the amazing display in the sky. That’s why we’re here to help you out with a guide to the best family-friendly places to watch the fireworks this year. Gather your family, flags, and festive gear for this 4th of July!
The 4th of July also serves as a sort of marker in the summer. We’re not quite at the beginning of the summer, but hey, we still have two months to go. If the idea of having two whole months left of summer is a bit overwhelming because you’re running out of options to keep your kids entertained, then check out our free kids’ summer classes, free outdoor summer concerts for kids, and new & renovated playgrounds around the city!
43rd Annual Macy's 4th of July Fireworks Official Locations
While set in Midtown Manhattan for the past few years, Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks are moving back to the Brooklyn Bridge this year. This is the largest Independence Day fireworks show in the nation, with more than 70,000 shells and effects launched from the bridge and four barges along the shores of Pier 17 at Seaport District. Featuring 28 colors, America’s top musical acts, fireworks perfectly timed to music, and new shells, this is a show that you do not want to miss! The musical theme is America’s beloved films, starring Jennifer Hudson as a vocalist, so get ready to hear the songs from plenty of classic American movies. The show traditionally starts around 9:20 pm, but if you want a good spot, you definitely want to get there much earlier. There are several official viewing locations released each year by Macy’s, so browse the following below or consult Macy’s map of viewing locations.
Elevated portions of the FDR (North/South Roadways) with entry points at:
Broad Street and Water Street: If you’re looking for a little less of a crowd (although there still will be a lot of people, just less than the locations positioned directly in front of the Brooklyn Bridge), then head to this southernmost viewing point.
Pearl Street and Dover Street: Up close and personal! This location is centered in front of the Brooklyn Bridge in Lower Manhattan.
Robert F. Wagner Sr. Place & St. James Place: Much like Pearl Street and Dover Street, you’ll have a front-row view of the show (that is if you claim your spot early).
Pearl Street & St. James Place: Really embrace the holiday with the crowds, lights, and a great view of the Macy’s fireworks with this location, directly in front of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Montgomery Street & Cherry Street: Similarly to Broad Street and Water Street, this Lower East side location will be a little less crazy than those at the center, but don’t be fooled: still show up early for the best view.
Access the Lower Promenade with entry points at:
Pike Slip & Cherry Street: This location is very close to Manhattan Bridge, so sure, you won’t be front and center, but you’ll still see (and hear) the fireworks fill the sky, and maybe even avoid the larger sized crowds.
Market Street & Cherry Street: Within this viewing location are ADA viewing spots, making the Macy’s 4th of July show accessible for everyone.
All aboard! If you truly want a unique experience this 4th of July, bring your family on a boat cruise to watch the Macy’s Fireworks! You’ll surely have amazing views on the deck, and enjoy an entire evening of food, games, and celebration. We recommend the 4th of July Independence Day 2019 Family Fireworks Cruise, for ages three and up. The ticket price, $150, includes a hot buffet of chicken franchise, stuffed shells, potatoes, dinner rolls, pizza, and cake. DJ Prince provides live entertainment, there’s free parking at the dock, and lots of face paint for kids! The ticket prices for boat cruises can go all the way up to (and some even over) $500 per person, so we’ve found both a family-oriented and slightly more affordable option. If you don’t mind spending a little more, the July 4th Fireworks Liberty Cruise is also a great option for families. The $279 ticket includes a full meal of appetizers, dessert, and creamy mac & cheese, signature roasted chicken, NY style hamburgers, and much more as main courses. The three deck ship provides wonderful views of the fireworks. If you’re considering hopping on a boat cruise this 4th of July, buy your tickets quick, because these popular experiences sell out fast.
The Front Row- 4th of July Fireworks Celebration
Looking for the very best view of the Macy’s Fireworks show? Well, for $30 you can secure your spot right now! Enjoy the East River, waterfront view of Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks, and come early to take part in all of the festivities. There will be a live DJ, BBQ, food and beverages for purchase, life-sized versions of games (Jenga, ping pong, chess, and more!), and various food vendors, including gourmet food options. This is a family-friendly, day long event for you to kick off Independence Day in the best fashion! 4:30-11 pm, South Street Heliport, 6 East River Piers, eventbrite.com
4th of July Celebration and Independence Day Party at Industry Kitchen
An exclusive, culinary experience, Industry Kitchen hosts a memorable 4th of July celebration. With an open buffet and windows for a clear view of the show from indoors or outdoors, Industry Kitchen provides a great option for fireworks viewing. The menu includes appetizers, steak, salmon, pizza and more as entrees, delicious comfort food style sides, and fun desserts, such as mini pastries, seasonal fruit platter, and Pop Candy Land pizza. Although there are, of course, plenty of free places to watch the fireworks, your ticket includes reserved seating, guaranteed views, and an amazing selection of food. Ticket prices vary depending on age and indoor/outdoor seating ($164-327), 7-10pm, Industry Kitchen, 70 South Street, Seaport, industry-kitchen.com
Pier 15 5th Annual Freedom Fest NYC
Get your tickets today before they all sell out, because this popular event has just what you’re looking for in a 4th of July celebration! Not only does Pier 15 provide the best views of the Macy’s fireworks, but there will be an All-American feast, a live DJ, and lots of family fun. Break out your most festive red, white, and blue gear for this event! General Admission $129, 6:45pm, Pier 15, 78 South Street, Seaport, freedomfestnyc.com.
A nice view of the Macy’s fireworks is always great, but here you also get to listen to a live DJ, eat freshly cooked food, and enjoy the local fireworks shows that continue into the night. This family-friendly event takes place on a rooftop, so at an elevated height, you’ll surely love watching the colors in the sky! $90, 7-10 pm, Brooklyn Grange, Flagship Farm in Long Island City, 37-18 Northern Boulevard, brooklyngrangefarm.com
Parks (Unofficial Viewing Locations)
If you’re trying to avoid the crowds at the official viewing locations, released by Macy’s, then you could try out the parks in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. Although, please note that these are unofficial viewing locations, so there is a chance that they will close. But no worries, just have a back up plan! Domino Park offered viewing for the 4th of July fireworks last year, and although they haven’t announced official viewing for this year, you could still try it out. The seating steps near the fountain and the fountain area (with the water turned off, of course) provides seating for families to enjoy the show, right along the waterfront at 15 River Street, Williamsburg. Four Freedoms Park, Southpoint Park, and other locations on Roosevelt Island offer great spots to see the fireworks and the Manhattan skyline, but know that once they fill up, especially Four Freedoms Park, they will close. Transmitter Park in Greenpoint borders the East River and has a large, green space for you to settle down on a blanket and watch the show.
Independence Day with the Staten Island Philharmonic
Enjoy live music by the Staten Island Philharmonic on the evening of July 4, followed by the viewing of citywide firework displays from the waterfront. A concert, fireworks display, and 4th of July celebration all in one, this is a great place to watch fireworks on July 4 for families! 6-9 pm, Alice Austen House Museum in Alice Austen Park, 2 Hylan Boulevard, Staten Island, nycgovparks.org
Sterling National Bank July 4th Fireworks
The Macy’s show is, well, breath taking, but there are other firework shows around the city that may not be as elaborate as Macy’s, but are still great for celebrating as a family. Set to a musical array of patriotic songs, this fireworks show on Staten Island is best if your family is looking for a slightly calmer scene. Plan to get there early if you would like a seat on the Central Mall beachfront. Should you find yourself in Staten Island on July 4, then catch this fireworks display! $10, 9:30 pm, Jones Beach State Park, 2400 Ocean Parkway, Wantagh, parks.ny.gov
While the fireworks show isn’t until 9:30 pm, you’re going to want to come early for the pre-show fun. Stroll on the boardwalk and jump on the thrill rides or kid-friendly rides! Enjoy dinner by the water, laughs, and the company of your loved ones as you wave your flags and settle down to watch the fireworks in the sky. Sure, Coney Island doesn’t put on the largest fireworks show in the nation like Macy’s, but Coney Island is a family-friendly place, perfect for celebrating together. 9:30 pm, Coney Island Boardwalk, Rigelman Boardwalk, allianceforconeyisland.org
Jersey City's 50 Star Fireshow
Now, you may be thinking, this fireworks show isn’t in NYC…but, in a way, it is. While we certainly encourage you to join in on the fun over at Jersey City all day, as there will be a kids carnival with a bounce house, rides, games, face paint, music, food, and more, you can also stay right where you are in NYC. The Jersey City show is visible without even leaving the city, but remember, Jersey City is just a ferry or quick drive away if you want to take a little trip for the 4th of July this year. 12-10pm, Exchange Place at Montgomery and Hudson, Jersey City, freedomandfireworks.com
Independence Day Celebration and Fireworks Show at Fort Totten Park
One June 26th (NOT July 4), take part in the 5th annual fireworks display at Fort Totten Park, organized by Northeast Queens Parks. Sing and dance along to the concert, followed by a fireworks show. There will also be food and games at this free event, welcoming all families! Although technically these fireworks happen a few days before the 4th of July, this is still a wonderful celebration for Independence Day, especially if your kids don’t love large crowds, like the ones that gather on July 4. 6-10 pm, Fort Totten Park Parade Grounds, Totten Avenue and 15th Road, Bayside, nycgovparks.org