The Ultimate Guide for July 4th

View of the 2009 Macy's Fourth of July fireworks from Midtown Manhattan. Flickr/jstanley3

The 2012 Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks will once again ignite the night sky over the Hudson River in honor of Independence Day. It’s the fourth consecutive year that the fireworks take place on the Hudson, rather than on the East River. Four barges will be positioned between 18th and 43rd streets and launch their holdings at approximately 9:20 p.m. Dig into MetroFocus‘ ultimate fireworks guide to help you grab a spot for the dazzling night, whether you’re in Manhattan or New Jersey. We also include some daytime celebrations if you’d rather avoid marking the holiday with crowds and the snap, crackle and booms of fireworks.

From the Waterfront:

Public Viewing

The best public viewing spots to catch the fireworks are along the West Side of Manhattan, between 14th and 59th streets. Do not bring: lawn chairs, blankets, backpacks, containers or other large bags. NYPD will conduct screenings of spectators for security purposes.

  • 12th Avenue and the north-bound lanes on West Side Highway are open for pedestrian access.
  • On 11th Avenue, fireworks viewing will be accessible at the following locations: 24th Street, 26th to 27th Streets, 29th Street, 33rd to 34th Streets, 40th Street, 42nd Street, 44th Street, 50th Street, 54th Street, 56th to 57th streets.
  • Pier 84 at 44th Street has limited access until it fills up, which will undoubtedly happen well before nightfall.
  • People with disabilities can go to Dewitt Clinton Park, located on West 52nd Street and 11th Avenue, which is officially reserved for their special use.

Photo courtesy of World Yacht Cruises.

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

West 46th Street; Price: $160 — SOLD OUT

Tickets are sold out, but consider this for next year. Visitors can experience not only the aircraft carrier tour inside the floating museum, but also get a prime viewing spot, just three blocks away from the northernmost fireworks barge. The museum offers three different viewing locations: Pier 86, a large outdoor balcony or an open-air tent on the former aircraft elevator. Doors open at 7 p.m.

Circle Line Pier Party

Pier 83 West 42nd Street; Price: $89

In addition to cruises, Circle Line is hosting a private pier party with entertainment and one of the closest fireworks views, 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. For $89 per person, you’ll be right underneath the bloom of fireworks launched from the northernmost barge at West 43rd Street.

Hudson River Park

West 44th Street; Price: $200 for adults, $100 for children

While most parks along the Hudson River are closed on the night of July 4th, Hudson River Park provides 500 front-row seats at Pier 84 for $200 each. Entrance opens at 6 p.m.

On the Water:

NJ Spirit Dinner Cruise

Pier 62 West 18th Street; Price: $264-$320

Get one of NJ Spirit Cruises’ three Independence Day dinner packages to enjoy the Fourth of July evening on the water. Options are priced at $264 to $320, and all tickets include six hours on the New York Harbor, a five-hour cruise party and an open bar. Boarding starts at 5 p.m. and the cruise returns at 11 p.m.

Photo courtesy of Circle Line.

Circle Line Cruise Party

Pier 83 West 42nd Street; Price: $89

For $89 you could earn one spot on Manhattan’s  Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises. Enjoy the view, dance the night away with a live DJ and enjoy food and drinks onboard. Boarding starts at 5:30 p.m. and the ship departs at 7 p.m.

World Yacht Cruise Party

Pier 81 West 41st Street; Price: $250-$350

For $250 per person, you can enjoy a buffet and standard open bar with views of the fireworks. For $350, you can have a private table and a five-course dinner.

From the Rooftop:

Photo courtesy of Hudson Terrace.

Hudson Terrace

46th Street between 11th and 12th avenues; Price: $85-$115 — SOLD OUT

A very popular spot to view the fireworks above the crowds, Hudson Terrace’s  seven different seating plans for the Fourth of July, with tickets starting at $85, are all sold out. All the lucky ticket holders will enjoy a four-hour open bar beginning at 6:30 p.m. and full summer BBQ buffet and, of course, an extraordinary rooftop view.

Plunge Rooftop Bar at Hotel Gansevoort

9th Avenue between 12th and 13th streets; Price: free general admission and a $500 minimum per table

It is almost impossible to find a cover-free rooftop bar on the night of July 4th, but Plunge offers this incredible deal. Although the terrace seating area is exclusively for reservations, guests without buying a table are still able to enjoy the view and live music indoor through a glass greenhouse-like structure. Rooftop seating reservation starts at 7 p.m.

Skyroom, on the 33rd and 34th floors of the Fairfield Inn & Suites, provides the highest rooftop lounge in the city and a spectacular open view of the Hudson River fireworks. Photo courtesy of Sky Room NYC.

Sky Room NYC

40th Street between 8th and 9th avenues; Price: $100

Although it’s four avenues east of the Hudson River, Sky Room has the highest rooftop lounge (on the 33rd and 34th floors) that still provides a full view of the fireworks and a 360-degree panorama of the city. The general admission ticket includes a five-hour open bar from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. and a Fourth of July picnic buffet.


Where Not to Go and Transportation Tips

The following areas are NOT viewing locations for the fireworks

  • High Line Park (closed after 6 p.m.)
  • Battery Park
  • Pier 54
  • All Hudson River Piers from Christopher Street to Pier 84 (except limited access at Pier 84 for ticket holders at Hudson River Park)
  • Hudson River Parks, Promenade and the bike path between W. Houston and 59th Street

West Side Highway closures will begin at 2:00 p.m.

  • Vehicular traffic closed from 59th Street to 22nd Street on 12th Avenue
  • All north-bound traffic to be diverted at 22nd Street to 11th Avenue
  • All south-bound traffic to be diverted at 10th Avenue above 59th Street

Public transportation to the viewing area is highly recommended since no parking space will be available on the night of July 4th. Even though July 4 falls on Wednesday, subways and buses are running on Saturday schedules. Other commuter trains are working on a normal schedule.

From New Jersey:

The view of the Hudson River from Hoboken. Photo courtesy of W Hotel Hoboken.

W Hotel Hoboken

225 River Street, Hoboken, N.J.

Come to Hoboken if you can’t get a better spot in Manhattan. The W Hotel Hoboken, directly facing the Hudson River and the Meatpacking District, offers a plenty of hotel rooms with a view of the fireworks. You can also join the party in the Chandelier Room, located on the second floor, where special drinks and live music are provided. No cover charge.


The only public viewing location in the town of Weehawken will be along J.F.K Boulevard. The boulevard is closed for traffic beginning early afternoon, when it opens to pedestrians. All the parks in the town will be closed off, including the Waterfront Park and Hamilton Park.

The fireworks over the Hudson River are just one of many great options in New Jersey. See NJ Today for a full listing of fireworks by county.

Daytime July 4th Traditions:

If you are looking for something to do during the day, here are several Independence Day activities worth checking out.

The Declaration of Independence Reading

June 30th, at Conference House, 7455 Hylan Blvd., Staten Island

Staten Island outLOUD organizes community readings of famous texts and kicks off the July 4th holiday this Saturday at 2 p.m.  At the historic Conference House, where delegates including Benjamin Franklin and John Adams tried to negotiate an end to the Revolutionary War on Sept. 11, 1776, participants will read the Declaration of Indepedence together. Don’t forget to bring your lawnchair.

The 2009 hotdog eating contest on Coney Island. Flickr/Charlotte Walton.

Nathan’s Famous July 4th International Hotdog Eating Contest

July 4th, at the corner of Surf and Stillwell avenues, Coney Island, Brooklyn

Started in 1972, Nathan’s Famous hotdog eating contest marks its 40th anniversary this year. Twenty-six finalists from 13 cities across the country will gather on the Coney Island Boardwalk, chewing towards glory (and a bellyache). The women’s contest starts at 11:30 a.m. and the men’s begins at noon.

Revolutionary Walking Tour in Lower Manhattan

July 4th, meet near City Hall and the Brooklyn Bridge

Taking a two-and-half-hour Revolutionary War walking tour on Independence Day would be one of best ways to get your patriotism on. St. Paul’s Chapel, Federal Hall National Monument, Fraunces Tavern and Battery Park are some of the sites featured on the tour. Admission is $23 a pop and the tour starts at 11 a.m.

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