While the Macy’s fireworks display has been an NYC 4th of July staple for nearly 50 years, the city is known for many other dazzling events that celebrate the founding of America. Independence Day 2023 brings with it not only America’s 247th birthday but also both traditional July 4th events as well as experiences unique to New York City, such as skyscraper rooftop parties and an iconic Coney Island hot dog eating contest. Keep reading to check out this year’s 15 most interesting events happening in the city on July 4th, 2023!
1. July 4th Parade in Lower Manhattan
There is nothing more American than a 4th of July parade. For the eighth year, the Lower Manhattan Historical Association will host one to celebrate the patriotic holiday. The celebration will be held on Tuesday, July 4th at 10 Am at the Castle Clinton National Monument located at 17 Battery Place. It will begin with a flag-raising ceremony led by the Veteran Corps of Artillery of the State of New York, along with their Annual Salute to the Nation. At 10:45 the marchers will gather to begin the parade, ending at South Street Seaport Pier 16.
Also in Lower Manhattan, at Fraunces Tavern there will be an open house from 2 PM to 5. Fraunces Tavern was built in 1719, owned under the name of the Queen’s Head Tavern by Samuel Fraunces who later became George Washington’s chief steward. The tavern once served as a meeting place for Revolutionaries before and during the Revolutionary War and was also the site of Washington’s post-war farewell to his fellow officers.
2. Have a BBQ in Central Park
On only 3 special days each year, Central Park allows barbecuing. Memorial Day, Labor Day, and the Fourth of July are the holidays when you’re allowed to grab your grill, buy a fresh pack of hot dogs, and bring family and friends to the park to celebrate. While grilling may be allowed on the Fourth, the Central Park website urges those who wish to partake to set up camp north of 96th Street, particularly near Harlem Meer or Great Hill which provide flat ground far from trees. You can visit their website for more information on grilling in the park.
3. Tour Grand Central Station
Uncover the secrets of Grand Central Station with this Untapped New York tour. While nearly everyone who steps foot in New York City has heard of and most likely also seen this iconic NYC building, there are many tidbits that the average person (and even the daily commuter) does not know. On the tour, you will discover many unknown quirks like where the hidden tennis court is, what design flaws are built into the building, and what secrets the family who built Grand Central left behind. The tour will run every day throughout the holiday weekend from Friday, June 30th to Wednesday, July 5th. Tickets are available for purchase here!
4. Spend the Weekend at Historic Richmond Town
If you’re looking to celebrate the holiday as our forefathers did, Historic Richmond Town’s Independence Day Weekend events are the perfect opportunity. Historic Richmond Town will offer special Fourth of July activities from 10 Am to 4 PM on both Saturday and Sunday where visitors can walk the streets of a revolution-era town and explore historic shops with live demonstrations. The historical village is a chance to step back in time, with the full experience including costumed interpreters portraying soldiers and founding fathers, dramatic readings of the Declaration of Independence, and 19th-century firework displays. A 1-day pass is $15, or you can grab a 2-day pass for $20. Tickets are available for purchase here.
5. Watch Fireworks from NYC’s Largest Outdoor Observation Deck
There is no better view of Fourth of July fireworks than from a rooftop. Luckily, New York City has many buildings tall enough to see right over the rest, giving you the perfect sky view. From the highest outdoor sky deck in the Western Hemisphere, however, the view is even better. Over 1,000 feet in the air, Edge’s observation deck in Hudson Yards is the pinnacle of NYC rooftops. Join Edge on July 4th at 7 PM for a jaw-dropping perspective of both the city and the fireworks. Tickets are $250, and include a glass of champagne (or non-alcoholic drink), one BBQ food item, and access to the live DJ performance by award-winning artist Spencer Ludwig. For those looking for a less expensive Independence Day rooftop experience, there are also rooftop events offered at 230 Fifth, Slate Rooftop, Ravel Hotel’s Penthouse, and many more. Check out this story to learn more about the best NYC observation decks.
6. Take a Tour of Rockefeller Center
For those interested in expanding their knowledge of New York City and feeling “in the know” as they toss unique fun facts at family and friends, the Secrets of Rockefeller Center tour is the perfect place to start. Trust us, there is more to Rockefeller Center than just its skating rink. The tour takes guests on a trip through the legendary complex and dives into its many mysteries, revealing a secret portal where inside you’ll find something signed by John D. Rockefeller, a sterling silver model airplane made by Cartier, and a surprising backstory surrounding the notorious Rockefeller Christmas Tree. There are still a few tickets left for this tour on June 30th and July 2nd, 3rd, and 5th. Tickets can be found here!
7. See the Coney Island Fireworks and Festivities
For a free fireworks show and a wholesome holiday celebration, the Alliance for Coney Island provides a glorious opportunity to sit back and enjoy America’s birthday, perhaps from the top of a Ferris wheel. Coney Island puts on Friday Night Fireworks shows each Friday from June 23rd to Labor Day weekend, but the festivities are also running on July 4th. Whether you attend the Friday show on June 30th to kick off Independence Day Weekend or catch it on the Fourth of July, the show begins around 9:30 PM and Luna Park is open until midnight, giving visitors the chance to watch the show from one of its many rides.
8. Take a Scenic Cruise
While many choose to celebrate the Fourth of July on land, another wonderful way to spend the holiday is by putting your sea legs to use. Whether you are looking to enjoy bottomless mimosas on a brunch cruise to start the day off on a celebratory note, or want to experience the fireworks behind the Manhattan skyline from the deck of a massive boat, there are dozens of options offered, many of which can be found on Event Cruises NYC’s website. If you are interested in starting the party earlier than the Fourth, there are many events taking place over the weekend. iBoatNYC is hosting a Hip Hop and R&B Independence Day Boat Party that will run from Friday, June 30th until Monday, July 3rd. The party includes a 3-hour cruise of New York Harbor, 3 levels of music on different floors, live DJs, and a lengthy dinner menu available for an extra cost. Partygoers can choose either the sunset party from 6 PM to 10 PM, or the night party from 10 PM to 2 AM. General admission tickets go for $40 and can be purchased here. Untapped New York also offers a variety of boating events through our partnership with Classic Harbor Line Cruises! Their sails set off throughout the holiday week. Check out the many options here!
9. Learn about U.S. History at the New-York Historical Society
Another way to celebrate America’s birthday with an emphasis on educational history is by visiting the New-York Historical Society for their Independence Day activities. Guests can take part in crafts, stories, and galleries that help teach the public a bit more about the founding of America. There will be events hosted all day from 11 AM to 5, including personal 18th-century portraits where guests can try on versions of historical clothing, patriotic bingo, and a scavenger hunt that teaches guests about their civic rights and duties as an American. Participation in the activities is free when you purchase an admission ticket to the museum which is located at 170 Central Park West.
10. Attend a Tour and Tasting at Barrow’s Intense Tasting Room
Following the holiday decadency, keep the party going on July 5th with a tour of Barrow’s Intense Tasting Room in Brooklyn. Not only will guests witness the entire production process of the award-winning Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur, but they will also get to try it. Guests can watch the team wash, cut, and press hundreds of pounds of fresh ginger used to make each signature batch, and even participate in a Q&A to learn more about the scintillating process. The bar itself proudly serves New York City’s largest selection of New York State liquors, and guests can sip on their cocktails from either inside at the bar or outside in a swanky private courtyard complete with vibe-setting fire pits. You can join this tour if you’re an Untapped New York Insider! Not an Insider yet? Become a member today and get your first month free with code JOINUS. Tickets to this tour can be purchased here.
11. Attend the Annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island
One of New York City’s most alluring July 4th events is, without a doubt, the illustrious and utterly baffling Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. The first Nathan’s contest was held in 1916, giving the event an over 100-year-old backstory. Millions of fans watch the event online, but those in New York City on the Fourth have a chance to catch the events in person at Coney Island. From 11 AM to 1 PM at 1310 Surf Avenue viewers can watch as challengers take on defending champions Joey Chestnut and Miki Sudo for their chance to earn a Mustard Yellow Belt.
12. A Waterfront Block Party at the Skyline Drive-In NYC in Brooklyn
Dubbed the “biggest Fourth of July event in NYC this year,” Project 91 and Bucketlisters are hosting a massive block party at the Skyline Drive-In NYC in Brooklyn. The party will go on from 1 PM to 10 PM with performers such as Sam Feldt, Klingande, and Frenship. The music ends at 9 PM, just in time for the fireworks over the East River to begin. The drive-in venue boasts a glorious Manhattan skyline view as a backdrop for the party’s performers. There will be a variety of bars, alongside a beer garden with picnic tables and yard games. Those looking for their burger and hot dog fix on this American holiday can also find food trucks and stands ready with all the fix-ins. General admission tickets are currently on sale for $55, with group, table, and VIP ticket options available as well.
13. Visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum
Each year on the Fourth of July, volunteers go to the 9/11 Memorial to place flags in each of the 2,983 engraved to honor the lives lost during the attacks on September 11th, 2001, and February 26th, 1993. While the outdoor Memorial is free to access every day from 8 Am to 8 PM, tickets to the museum run from $17 for youths to $29 for adults. The museum opens at 9 AM and the last entry for tickets is at 5:30 PM. Museum visitors can follow the story of 9/11 along with its impact on society and the lives of thousands through artifacts, media narratives, and personal stories.
14. Celebrate with a Beach Day
A day at the beach is a quintessential July 4th activity, and New York City is a convenient place to be with many nearby beaches ready for sunbathing and barbecuing. All you need is a bathing suit, some festive snacks, and a sunny day, and you are guaranteed a picture-perfect Fourth of July. Some of the most popular beaches in or near the city include Rockaway Beach in Queens, Jones Beach on Long Island, Orchard Beach in the Bronx, and Coney Island Beach in Brooklyn. Check out our story on the Top 10 Hidden Beaches of NYC to find some lesser-known spots to spend the holiday while avoiding the crowds.
15. Attend a NY Baseball Game
Another classic American way to spend the Fourth is at the baseball stadium cheering on your favorite team with a hot dog in one hand and a beer in the other. This year the Yankees will be playing against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx at 1 PM, offering baseball fans the opportunity to spend their day off watching the AL East rivalry match. There will also be non-MLB games happening on the Fourth including a minor league match between the Staten Island FerryHawks and the Lexington Counter Clocks held at Staten Island University Hospital Community Park at 6:30 PM.
Next, check out these vintage photos of past NYC 4th of July celebrations throughout the decades.