New York City loves to throw a good party, so of course this weekend is packed with ways to celebrate Independence Day all weekend long. Watch a spectacular fireworks display, grab a seat along Staten Island’s parade route, cool off with the help of a fire hose, or hit the beach to see just how many hot dogs one person can eat. No matter what borough you’re celebrating in, the city will not disappoint. So put on your red, white and blue and start planning your holiday weekend.
Harlem Children’s Parade via harlemparade.com
Along the East River
Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks
It wouldn’t be the 4th of July without a spectacular display of fireworks in New York City. This year enjoy live performances from Kelly Clarkson, Flo Rida, Brad Paisley, and Meghan Trainor. You can see the fireworks anywhere you have an unobstructed view of the East River, but top access points include, in Manhattan, between Montgomery & South Streets, Brooklyn Bridge entry from St. James Pl. & Wagner Pl. and Broad St. at Water St. In Brooklyn, see the show from Brooklyn Bridge Park Piers 1-6 or the Brooklyn Bridge Promenade. Sat. 8 p.m. All along East River and Brooklyn Bridge. Free. All ages. Event details.
Splash Around at the Harlem Children’s Parade
Make sure your kids bring their swimsuits and water shoes because at this parade they’re going to get wet. Your little ones can limber up for the day’s events in the morning with some yoga, then line up to march in the parade. After strutting their stuff, your kids can take a ride on a fire truck and then cool off as the fire hose creates a fun water sprinkler for the neighborhood to play in. Sat. 10 a.m. Morningside Heights. Free. All ages. Event details.
Celebrate Your Family With Your Family
You’ve celebrated Independence Day, now it’s time for Global Family Day. Head to Central Park for an afternoon of music, dance, acrobats and even fire juggling. Bring a blanket, pack some snacks and soak up the sun while Shine and the Moonbeams, The Red Trouser Show and more perform as part of Central Park’s Summerstage Festival. Sun. 2 p.m.-6 p.m. Central Park. Free. All ages. Event details.
The Hunger Games: The Exhibition Opening Weekend
If you have kids reading young adult books, chances are you know the name Katniss. Imagine their excitement when you take them into the world of the Hunger Games at this special exhibit at the Discovery Museum. Visit District 12 and the Capitol, board the tribute train, and all along the way see iconic props from the movie like Katniss’ Mockingjay dress and bow. The exhibit does timed, ticketed entry so be sure to purchase your tickets in advance. Fri.-Sun. 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Time Square. $29.50/adult; $22.50/child age 3 to 11; children under 3 are free. All ages. Event details.
Board a Historic Tall Ship
Sure you see boats around New York all the time, but you don’t often get to see an 18th-century tall ship. Take your little sailors to see an exact replica of General Lafayette’s ship the Hermione during a stop on it’s voyage from France. Come aboard for a tour during the ship’s visit, participate in a patriotic parade through lower Manhattan for a flag raising ceremony on Friday, or come see Hermione set sail with near one hundred other vessels during the parade of ships in the harbor on Saturday. See website for specifics on special events. Fri. & Sat. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. South Street Seaport. Free. All ages. Event details.
Celebrate the 4th of July One More Day
Keep the celebrations going an extra day at this star-spangled family celebration. Create an Independence Day-themed art project, participate in open play, decorate cookies, and sing all-American tunes during a sing-along with a live guitarist (This Land is Your Land, anyone?). Kids can indulge in pizza and parents can grab some hors d’oeuvres and a cold beer. Sun. Noon-2 p.m. Battery Park. $50/first child; $25/each sibling. All ages. Event details.
Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest
It’s nationally televised, but as New Yorkers you have the chance to witness this 4th of July tradition in person. Head to Coney Island to watch professional eaters compete to see how many Nathan’s hot dogs they can consume. Watch defending champion Joey Chestnut attempt to break his world record of eating 69 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. Your kids will have a new appreciation for cleaning their plates. Sat. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Coney Island. Free. All ages. Event details.
Hit the Beach to Spot a Piping Plover
Head to the shore and discover one of New York City’s endangered species, the piping plover. Learn about this shorebird with games, crafts, and educational activities. It’s just an added bonus that your family gets to spend the entire day at the beach. Sun. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Rockaway Beach. Free. All ages. Event details.
March to Staten Island for a Patriotic Parade
If a parade is what you’re looking for this 4th of July, head to Staten Island for the 105th annual promenade in the small town of Travis. In addition to the music, dancing and entertainment, make sure to check out the red, white and blue decorations on the local houses competing for the title of most patriotic. Make a day of it and grab a spot to watch the Macy’s firework display from the island before heading home. Sat. Noon. Travis. Free. All ages. Event details.
How will your family spend this holiday weekend? Share with us in the comment section below.
— Caitlin Dowling