What to do in New York City on the 4th of July

What is there to do in New York City on the 4th of July? That's a question many people ask around this time of year, whether they've lived in NY their whole life, just moved there, or are simply coming in for a visit. Many people just think of going to the beach, or staying at home for a family cookout. While these are great choices (and Independence Day classics), they are far from being the only choice in NYC.. And I'm not just talking about sitting on the couch and watching the Sci-fi Channel's Twilight Zone marathon, either! There are numerous activities to do in and around the city.

Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks

Perhaps the most well known festivity in New York City on the 4th of July is the Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks. For the last 33 years, Macy's has sponsored this enormous fireworks display over New York, and this year they will fire off over 120,000 fireworks! This year, in celebration of not only the 233rd birthday of the United States, but also the 400th anniversary of the Henry Hudson's voyage over the river named after him, the fireworks will be shot off at the Hudson River (in the past, they've been shot off from Liberty State Park). The event is scheduled from 9-9:20pm, and will be televised live on NBC. For more information, visit http://www1.macys.com/campaign/sitelets/fireworks/index.jsp.

Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest

Nathan's Famous, established in 1916, has held an annual hot dog eating contest on July Fourth every year since it opened, and this year is no different. 2008's contest was an exciting match-up that had to go into an "over time" when Joey Chestnut and Takeru Kobayashi were tied at the end of the 10-minute eating contest with 59 hotdogs a piece! As a tie-breaker, they were each given a plate of 5 more hot dogs, where the one to finish the plate first would win. Chestnut was named the victor when he devoured the 5 remaining hot dogs in only 50 seconds! Will this year's contest be as exciting? It all starts at noon on Independence Day, and you should try to get there an hour early if you want a good view. For more information on the contest and on Nathan's Famous, visit their website at http://nathansfamous.com.

Revolutionary War Walking Candlelit Tour

If you're interested in history, one option for something to do in NYC on the 4th of July is the Candlelit Walking Tour of Revolutionary War NY. From 2am to 6am, the tour will start at Fraunces Tavern Museum and travel around Lower Manhattan, pointing out various war sites while also telling about life in New York during the Revolutionary War and teaching about war heroes of the time. Tickets are $20 a person. More info can be found at http://www.frauncestavernmuseum.org/mus_cal.html.

Conor Oberst and The Mystic Valley Band with Jenny Lewis

A free concert will be held at 3:30pm in Battery Park. Conor Oberst was named "Best Songwriter" by Rolling Stone Magazine, and his folk rock style have allowed him and The Mystic Valley Band to gain in popularity during their time together. Jenny Lewis is also no stranger to fame, as she's performed many shows around the globe. While the free event is unticketed, seating is limited and goes on a first come first serve basis. For more info, check out www.RiverToRiverNYC.com.

Harbor Cruises

The 4th of July brings about numerous holiday cruises to relax, eat good food, dance, and watch the fireworks go off. These range from the $75 Circle Cruise Line cruise to the $325 formal World Yacht cruise with a 5-course meal. Most of the cruises are in the $100-$200 range and include a meal, entertainment, and cash bar.

Hopefully this gives you a few ideas on what to do in New York City on the 4th of July other than flipping burgers, waving sparklers, and vegging out to Rod Serling.

-Ella Riez for AllNY.com

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