The Fourth of July weekend is the perfect summer holiday that combines everything we love about this time of the year, from fireworks and barbecues to getting out on the water and exploring the city all over again. With it being the holiday weekend, there is so much to see and do! Take a day trip right outside of the city or check out what’s happening right in your neighborhood. If you haven’t decided what you’ll be doing yet, we’ve rounded up 15 things to do with the family that you’ll definitely want to check out.
Macy's Firework Show
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.
Spend your Fourth at Coney Island, walking the boardwalk with ice cream and seeing who will claim victory at the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. Ride beach roller coasters like Wild River and Luna 360 for a thrilling time. And, don’t forget to hop on the iconic Wonder Wheel where you can swing back and forth as you go around or opt for a stationary car. If you are considering a beach trip packed with activity, Coney Island is the place to be with fireworks, rides, beach activities, and more!
Movies Under the Stars
If your family is looking to catch the movie theater experience this Fourth of July weekend, you’re in for a treat, because the experience has moved outdoors and…it’s free! New York City is known for providing free outdoor movies all summer long, and we’ve round up the best family-friendly movies that you don’t want to miss. Still bent on having your family movie night at home? Well, there is also something pretty special about cozy blankets and the acceptability of pajamas, so we’ve also got family favorite movies for your at-home movie night. Now, on to the NYC free summer movies!
Six Flags Great Adventure
Six Flags Great Adventure is the record-breaking, iconic amusement park in Jackson, NJ. The park draws hundreds of thousands of people from all over the country every year so that they can conquer the tallest roller coaster in the world, Kingda Ka, or make their way through the array of family-friendly rides and attractions. With Great Adventure located only about 70-80 minutes from Midtown Manhattan, the park is also a prime spot for NYC families during the Fourth of July weekend.
When you walk into The Kartrite, New York’s biggest indoor waterpark, set on 1,600 acres, the excitement is palpable. After all, there’s nothing like a waterpark, especially a brand-new one that has geared each and every activity to kids of all ages. In fact, from the minute you arrive in this sparkly new resort, located 90 minutes from Midtown in Monticello, New York, and slip on a wristband, it just feels like there’s going to be something fun to do around every corner. In addition to the ten amazing water attractions, guests are welcome to enjoy an afternoon of live music, local brews, and an all-American classic BBQ for the Fourth of July weekend. As night time falls, roast s’mores by the fire pit and get ready for a grand fireworks show.
State Fair Meadowlands
State Fair Meadowlands returns to MetLife Stadium from June 20 to July 7 and is bigger than ever before. New Jersey’s Great Escape boasts an amazing lineup of free entertainment including the all-new Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show and Jurassic Kingdom along with returning favorites such as the Racing Pigs, Cycle Circus Live, Jungle Island High Dive and explosive Fireworks Nights on July 3 and 4! Everyone is invited to feast on mouthwatering food and drinks and experience fun-filled rides for all ages. Admission tickets can be purchased at the MetLife Stadium Box Office for $12 and children 34″ and shorter get in for free. Parking is free on weekdays and costs $5 on weekends. Plus there will be a huge lineup of Bargain Nights.
Visit Governor’s Island
If you haven’t stopped by Governor’s Island since it reopened in May, make the trip this holiday weekend. With just a short ferry ride from Manhattan or Brooklyn, you can explore the new play:ground, camp in a luxurious tent, and eat some amazing restaurants. Governor’s Island is the perfect summer spot to take the family for the day because you get it all! Get out on the water, get the best city views, and enjoy the countless activities.
Celebrate the holiday weekend by kicking back with some summer tunes. From June to October, Capital One City Parks Foundation SummerStage will be throwing New York City’s largest, free outdoor performing arts festival. Each year, there is approximately 100 performances with music genres of salsa, jazz, and hip hop, indie, reggae, Afrobeat, soul, modern dance, and much more. Head to Central Park with the family for an unforgettable Fourth of July weekend as you listen to the unique beats of New York City.
Kayak and Canoeing
Looking for a fun way to get outdoors for some exercise and soak up some sun this Fourth of July weekend? Add a few water sports to your list. Every summer, New York is bursting with places to go kayaking, canoeing and rowing. Check out the L.I.C. Community Boathouse if you want to get out on the water. Learn to paddle and enjoy the great views of Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn.
Now that the Belvedere Castle has reopened, the Fourth of July weekend will be the perfect time to check this newly renovated site. Much of the work focused on repairs of walls, stonework, and pavilions to maintain the strong foundational structure for visitors, as well as the installment of environmentally-friendly and sustainable mechanical, waterproofing, and drainage systems. But the Central Park Conservancy also wanted to recreate aspects of the Belvedere’s historic design to provide families with that feeling of royalty, connect the castle to its historic roots, and glorify its stellar views. Some of these recreated designs include the decorative wood tower that was part of the pavilion 150 years ago, the bluestone pavers in a checkered design, and clear pane glass windows to restore the open-air view.
If you haven’t yet stopped by Hudson Yards, now is the time to take a visit with the family. Explore the Vessel, eat at kid-friendly restaurants, and indulge in some sweet treats. This hit, new location is the perfect place to explore with family for the Fourth of July weekend. After you climb and explore the steps of the iconic Vessel, get your grub on at Shake Shack, followed by a sweet treat at Dylan’s Candy Store or Kith Treats.
Water Playgrounds and Sprinkler Parks
Gear up with some kid-friendly sunscreen and find the nearest water playground and sprinkler parks right in your neighborhood. Kids will be thrilled and entertained and it’s SUPER cost-efficient. If you need a little extra splash, nothing is better than taking a dip in a large pool to completely cool off in. Whether you head for the parks or the pools, you will definitely have a refreshing Fourth of July.
One of the best perks about living in New York City is the rich amount of diverse food that is scattered throughout this concrete jungle. You can be ordering uber eats for the family after a busy day at work and choose an Uzbekistanian pork dumpling dish that is only ten minutes away when really, this dish comes all the way from Central Asia.
This city is always reinventing the concept of food from its wow-factor appearance to unique tastes. What better way to celebrate New York City’s amazing food than to come to Smorgasburg, the HUB of food creativity!
Smorgasburg is the largest weekly outdoor free food market in America that brings in 20,000-30,000 people each week to get a taste of what New Yorkers are dishing up. From 100 local vendors, you will definitely be able to take your tastebuds on a field trip from savory to sweet.
These outdoor pools are the perfect way to cool off, have some family fun in the water, and keep your kids active for the Fourth of July weekend. Guide your young ones in the water, watch your older kids race from one side of the pool to the other, or start a family game of Marco Polo — there are endless ways to spend your day at the pool. The pools are free and open to the public from 11 am to 7 pm. There are several pools located throughout all of the boroughs, so find the one that appeals to you the most. Grab your sunblock and get ready for New York City’s outdoor pools!
NYC Ferry Ride
You don’t need to take a fancy yacht to cruise around the harbors of New York City. Get a ferry ride ticket at $2.75 and hop between NYC docks. Cruise around and see some great views in the most cost efficient way. Spend the Fourth of July weekend cruising the waters with the family!