July 4th Fireworks
The Macy’s Fireworks Display will be best viewed from the Brooklyn Bridge.

Following the dearth of Fourth of July activities in 2020, this year’s Independence Day will be full of celebrations, fireworks, and tours to celebrate less restricted times and the passage of the Declaration of Independence. Red, white, and. blue will take over the city as hoards of New Yorkers celebrate with traditions old and new. With so many options for ways to fill the day, though, it can be overwhelming to find the best way to spend the holiday! Here is Untapped New York’s guide for Fourth of July activities.

1. Watch the Fireworks from the Water

William Wall

Fireworks will join New York City’s typical array of lights with fury this Fourth of July.But one of the closet ways to view the fireworks is from the Honorable William Wall floating bar, which is the clubhouse of the Manhattan Yacht Club. It’s anchored just next to Ellis Island, so you’ll get a new view of the fireworks around the Statue of Liberty and any fireworks happening on the New Jersey and Hudson River side. You take at tender to get to the William Wall. Tickets must be purchased online and there’s a cash bar when you get on board.

Planning to launch more than 65,000 shells and effects, the Macy’s show will be hard to miss. Macy’s will host its traditional Fourth of July Fireworks display over the East River this year. However, for those who do not want to travel to the Brooklyn Bridge for prime viewing of the 9:25 p.m., other boroughs will host their own shows. Coney Island‘s fireworks will be best viewed from Coney Island’s own beach. This show will start at 9:30 p.m. Although no large fireworks shows will occur in the Bronx or in Queens, the Empire Outlets in Staten Island will host their own fireworks show. Best viewed from the St. George waterfront, these fireworks will begin at 9:30 p.m. as well.

2. Visit the abandoned Ellis Island hospital

Hard hats are required to enter the abandoned Ellis Island hospital.

What better way to celebrate the Fourth of July than by diving into the history of New York City? Join Untapped New York to take a hard hat tour about the Ellis Island hospital complex that was abandoned in 1954. After putting on a hard hat, visitors will travel through a contagious disease hospital that is typically off limits to the public.

Within the walls of the hospital are life-sized historic photographs created by French artist JR of actual people who immigrated through Ellis Island and were treated in the hospital wards. In addition to seeing the photographs plastered on walls throughout the hospital, visitors will explore the laundry building, contagious disease wards, autopsy rooms, staff house and more. Tickets cost $83 for the Fourth of July tour that begins at 12 p.m. (as well as tours on Saturday, but tickets are limited!)

3. Cheer on participants of the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest

Nathan's hot dog eating contest
This year, spectators are allowed to return to Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest.

Joey Chesnut beat his own record after eating 75 hot dogs in 10 minutes at the 2020 Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest. Many wonder if he will be able to top that record this year. After holding the contest without spectators last year, the contest will return with free attendance for all. However, since seats will be given out on a first-come, first-serve basis, only those who show up early will get a prime viewing spot. The women’s competition will begin at 11 a.m. and the men’s competition will begin as 12:30 p.m.

The hot dog eating contest came from humble beginnings: It began as a PR ploy. After pulling some people to stage a photo that looked like a hot dog eating contest, Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs found more fame. Little did they know, though, that this photo op would turn into a long-standing tradition.

4. Discover the secrets of Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Clock
Grand Central Terminal is designed in the Beaux Arts style.

In pre-pandemic times, a million people pass through Grand Central Terminal a day but few know all the secrets associated with its architecture and history. Whether you are a New York City resident or traveling into Grand Central for a weekend in the city, these secrets are great for history or architecture buffs alike.

This walking tour of Grand Central Terminal will begin at 2 p.m. on July 4, giving participants plenty of time to travel to their prime fireworks viewing location following the tour. This includes facts about its time in disrepair and efforts to save it. The tour would not be complete without information about hidden features and design quirks of Grand Central, One such secret is that there is a hidden: a Gilded Age bar within the terminal.

5. Dance with friends at the Project 91 Block Party

Greenpoint hosts many beaches.

One of the first festivals following the lifting of many COVID restrictions, the Project 91 Block Party will have food, drinks, and activities from 1:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. on July 4. DJs will play from 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. for those who want to dance with friends and enjoy the beautiful weather. The Macy’s Fireworks will be viewable from the Block Party at 9:25 p.m.

Food trucks and a beer garden will be available on site at the Greenpoint Waterfront, where the block party will occur. This is the first block party of its kind and will be a grand hurrah for vaccinated individuals. Tickets cost $45, but a VIP experience ticket will cost $85. The VIP experience allows access to a VIP table, indoor restroom, bar, and air conditioned lounge.

6. Uncover the turbulent history of the Financial District

People on the lawn

To get an early start on Fourth of July festivities, join Untapped New York at 11 a.m. for a tour of the Financial District. This tour will uncover all of the deep, dark secrets of those who frequented the Financial District. Participants will uncover the secrets of Wall Street, explore the Trinity Churchyard, and touch one of the oldest standing structures in lower Manhattan. Other secrets include a 19th-century candy store hidden in the basement of an office building and the site of New York City’s long-standing slave market.

For $35, participants can learn all these secrets before traveling to Chinatown for an early dinner and dessert. Using their newfound Wall Street cutthroat attitude, participants can then stake out their own spots to view the fireworks.

7. Watch the historic Travis Parade

The Staten island Ferry is a great activity and way to get to the Travis Parade.

After taking the Staten Island Ferry, travel to the village of Travis to watch the Travis Parade. The Travis Parade has occurred since 1911 and is a staple of the Staten Island Fourth of July celebrations. Following the parade, pass the time at Historic Richmond Town to learn some history about Staten Island before watching the fireworks show at Empire Outlets.

The parade will begin at noon in Independence Park. After departure, members of the organizing committee, elected officials, and others will travel in their respective vehicles through the crowds.

8. Pick sides at a Mets vs. Yankees game

Yankee Stadium
The Mets and the Yankees have a healthy rivalry despite playing in different leagues.

Although the Mets and the Yankees play in different leagues, they will oppose each other several times throughout the next few weeks. Beginning at 7:08 p.m. on July 4, the Mets and the Yankees will play ball at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. The Subway Series demonstrates a battle for the pride of the city.

Whether a fan of baseball or just of healthy rivalry, this game is fun for all New Yorkers to celebrate their city. With both teams championing 40 wins this season, it will be interesting to see who prevails. Bring out your white and blue jerseys to show your Fourth of July spirit.

9. Discover Dutch New Amsterdam of New York City’s past

Learn about the origins of New York City with Untapped New York.

While celebrating a historic day in American history, one can also honor the historic Dutch roots of New York City. Untapped New York’s Dutch New Amsterdam tour will explore where New York physically began. Traveling with a map in hand, participants will learn about the myths, secrets, and facts about the origins of New York City.

Activities on the tour include seeing the remains of Manhattan’s first City Hall; discovering the original Dutch fort, wind mill, and battery; and tracing the streets of Manhattan in 1667. As participants walk lower Manhattan’s original coastline, they can physically touch history. The tour on July 4th begins at 2 p.m. and tickets cost $35.

10. Uncover abandoned subway stations

Guastavino at Municipal Building

To get from one Fourth of July activity to the next with great speed, it may be imperative to use the subway. But do you know about what came before the subway cars of today? Or the stations that have been abandoned over the years? Untapped New York’s Underground Subway Tour will be a great way to learn about the secrets of the subway while familiarizing yourself with its history. The Subway tour will begin at both 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on July 3rd to give patriots ample time to learn subway secrets before wandering around the city on July 4th.

The tour will travel from City Hall Park, the birthplace of the subway station, and will offer information about the comically short route of the mythical “Subway before the Subway” — Alfred Ely Beach’s Pneumatic Transit System. Architectural ghosts within the abandoned Chambers Street station will jump out as participants explore the old “Grand Central of Downtown.” On this tour, the 6 train will be the main mode of transportation as participants and tour guides alike ride through abandoned subway stations.

Next, check out the top ten secrets of Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs!