4th of july

Top 5 Places to Enjoy The 4th of July Fireworks in NYC

fireworks, 4th of july, nyc, skyline

Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks in NYC over the Hudson River

The 4th of July is one of the best times of the year to create fun memories with your family and friends. But the question is where are these memories going to take place? Have you figured out where you want to watch the fireworks at this year? No need to worry, we came up with some of the best places to watch the fireworks in New York City for you.

5. Pier 84 If you want a good view, it has limited access starting at 44th street.

4. Side Streets Don’t underestimate the side streets! You can also view the lights in the sky between 11th and 12th avenues. Remember its New York City, so expect big crowds and get there early for the best spot.

3. River Side Park South The park closes at 4pm for new visitors so we suggest to come early and bring your iPod and food.

2. West Side Highway Pick an entrance on 12th Avenue between 14th and 59th Streets and enjoy the amazing fireworks. It’s almost impossible to avoid the crowds but you can try finding a good spot. The show usually begins at 9:20pm.

1. CitySightseeing New York Fourth of July Fireworks Cruise

Now what better place to enjoy 4th of July than partying with us? Who wants to battle with the crowds on Independence Day? This year have your own private celebration and get your ticket for City Sightseeing NY’s special July 4th Fireworks Cruise before it’s too late. The fireworks are just part of the journey you can dance the night away with some delicious food while watching the skyline of New York with your family or friends.

Do you have other plans in mind for Independence Day? Tell us.


107 Things To Know If You’re Visiting NYC This Summer

New York City, Top of the Rock


  1. The subway costs just $2.50 per ride, and can get just about anywhere in the city.
  2. Save your metro card because it’s a $1 additional fee for a new one
  3. If you’re staying for a week, you should buy a 7-Day Unlimited Pass which is good for unlimited subway and local bus rides for $30.
  4. The subway runs 24 hours a day and 7 days a week
  5. When waiting for the train, stand behind the yellow platform edge strip.
  6. Don’t try to hold the door on the subway. People will hate you.
  7. Don’t block the doorway on the subway. People will hate you.
  8. Let people off the train before getting on.
  9. If all of the subway cars are crowded except for one, which is empty, get on the crowded car.
  10. You read that right, don’t get on the empty car. There’s a reason it’s empty.
  11. Be aware of your surroundings
  12. Trains usually run local or express, so if you are unsure you may want to ask a person or choose a local train
  13. Make sure you know exactly where you’re going before you swipe your card, you can’t get a refund using the subway.
  14. It can become very crowded on the trains. You will be surprised of the capacity.
  15. If you want a taxi cab, stick out your arm
  16. Taxis tend to go out of service around the afternoon rush. Plan accordingly.
  17. When catching a taxi you should get one in the direction you are going, it will save time and money
  18. The Staten Island Ferry is free


  1. The Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest is on July 4 on Coney Island
  2. Smorgasburg is a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon
  3. Four star restaurants have long waiting lists. Make your reservations now.
  4. There are about 42 million fast food restaurants in NYC, but you shouldn’t go to any of them. At any given moment you will be within a 5 minute walk of low priced, better tasting burgers/chicken/tacos.
  5. Our dollar slices probably taste better than what you’re used to, but if you really want good pizza, the extra money is worth it.
  6. Don’t be afraid to try the pretzels at the hot dog stands
  7. Food trucks are awesome
  8. Parked! Food Truck Festival will make your taste buds dance which is usually every August
  9. Vendy Awards will be back in September
  10. Restaurant Week serves great prix fixe meals and usually lasts for several weeks in August


  1. musicianCity Park’s SummerStage is totally free
  2. The New York Philharmonic will drop by parks in all five boroughs for free shows in July
  3. So will the Metropolitan Opera
  4. Good Morning America and the Today Show host free concerts every Friday morning
  5. Governors Ball Music Festival is June 7-9
  6. The Northside Festival is June 13-20
  7. Electric Zoo come to NYC August 30-September 1
  8. The CBGB Music Festival is October 9-13
  9. Blue Note Jazz Festival is from June 1-30
  10. Sunset on the Hudson is June 7th-August 23rd on Friday evenings
  11. Greenwich Village is known for having great live music


  1. The Comedy of Errors is free in the first session of Shakespeare in the Park
  2. Love’s Labour’s Lost, A New Musical is free in the second session
  3. The Intrepid is a museum on an aircraft carrier, which is awesome
  4. Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has priceless pieces of art
  5. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre has some amazing shows with cheap prices, too.
  6. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is known for its unique building and is also a landmark of NYC
  7. Brooklyn Museum has some eye-catching art too
  8. Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts has a lineup of amazing concerts, plays, and films throughout the week
  9. If you love spoken word you will have a good time at any poetry cafes in Manhattan
  10. Harlem has some historic libraries, great dance schools, and art too.


  1. 5th Avenue has top of the line products, and prices to match
  2. SoHo has less expensive clothing stores and trendy boutiques
  3. Chinatown has incredibly cheap prices, and products to match
  4. South Street Seaport is a great place to shop and eat on the harbor
  5. Union Square is one of the most popular places to shop.
  6. Greenwich Village is filled with designer labels.
  7. Herald Square has almost every chain store there
  8. Macy’s on 34th Street is the world’s largest department store and a registered NYC landmark.


  1. Central Park is the largest park in Manhattan, but the 5th largest in NYC.
  2. Brooklyn Bridge Park has an incredible view of the Manhattan Skyline.
  3. Riverbank State Park is a great park too including a gym, pool, places to barbecue, and kids facilities
  4. The High Line is an old elevated railway converted into a park
  5. Battery Park has a beautiful water front and some summer concerts
  6. All of NYC’s parks are free to enter
  7. Bryant Park has a reading room, ping pong, games, carrousel, free ice skating and chess.
  8. Here’s a list of parks with free WiFi
  9. Washington Square Park is never a dull moment there always entertainment to watch like break dancing and artists.
  10. The parks are closed from 1 a.m. til 5 a.m. Breaking this curfew will get you a $40 ticket



  1. The Empire State Building has observation decks on the 86th and 102nd floors providing one of the best views in Manhattan
  2. At the Statue of Liberty you can be able to walk from the ground floor all the way to Lady Liberty’s crown that provides you with an amazing view of the city
  3. Apollo Theater in Harlem is one of Harlem’s landmarks and offers Amateur Night on Wednesdays
  4. Botanical Gardens provides family activities and hands on gardening too
  5. Flatiron Building has a lobby where you can see historic photographs and notes hanging from the wall
  6. Yankee Stadium has a museum in the stadium about the fascinating history
  7. 5Pointz Aerosol Art Center is a great place to view if you love spray-paint art
  8. Times Square is the heart of Manhattan favorite tourists’ places!

Other Free Things

  1. Many Museums, including the American Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, have a suggested donation to enter, but you don’t have to pay anything at all. If you can afford to, you should pay the requested amount so that these museums will continue to be some of the best in the world.
  2. Oh, and you should check out The Cloisters as well
  3. Superfree Wednesday is a free comedy show at Peoples Improv Theater
  4. Sony Wonder Technology Lab is free for the kids with fun workshops on video games, movies, and music

Other Important Dates

  1. The Statue of Liberty will reopen on July 4
  2. Manhattanhenge falls on May 28/29 and July 12/13
  3. Saturdays in August, 5th Avenue shuts down for Summer Streets


  1. Even numbered streets run east
  2. 5th Avenue is considered the center of the city. Any address like E. 42nd street is east of 5th, and address like W. 42nd street is west of 5th
  3. The numbers on the lights in Central Park refer to the closest cross street
  4. When hailing a taxi
  5. If it’s sunny and raining, that’s probably air conditioner sweat, and you should move
  6. Download a city/subway map to your phone. One less awkward thing to carry, and you don’t have the “tourist” look every time you need directions
  7. It’s safe to get lost on the street on New York, it’s fun in any neighborhood and you get a chance to explore parts that a tour guide wouldn’t typically show you.
  8. If you happen to see a person having trouble standing because of age or an infant, the subway etiquette is to give up your seat.
  9. Be prepared to do the most walking you ever done in your life. Wear comfortable shoes.

Miscellaneous Tips and Facts worth knowing

  1. manhattanhengeThe 4th of July Fireworks will be on the Hudson River, not the East River
  2. Don’t forget to take pictures of things. NYC is a beautiful city and worth sharing with your friends back home.
  3. When you take these pictures, if you abruptly stop walking in the middle of the sidewalk, people like you a little less. Don’t do that.
  4. Try not to text while walking.
  5. Think of walking like driving: If you’re going to walk slowly, stay to the right. If you want to walk fast you can “pass” on the left. The same rule applies for standing on escalators.
  6. Always carry some cash. You won’t need it everywhere, but you will need it more than where you’re from (probably)
  7. Tipping for quality service is a nice thing to do, and being nice is totally awesome
  8. Remember New York City can be very expensive, so spend wisely so you can be able to see a lot of what New York has to offer
  9. New York City is divided into five boroughs-Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, The Bronx, and Staten Island
  10. Streets run east/west, avenues run north/south (in Manhattan)
  11. SoHo is south of Houston (pronounced HOUSE-ton) Street
  12. TriBeCa is the Triangle Below Canal Street
  13. If you ever need help with something, just ask someone. Contrary to popular belief, New Yorkers tend to be very nice
  14. Don’t worry about the cat in the bodega, it’s there for your benefit
  15. Wherever you’re from remember that the food costs doubled compare to the price at home
  16. Be prepared to see anything on the streets on NYC.

Photo Credit:
Top of the Rock: GLNY / Kevin Lawless
Musician: Flickr /marniejoyce
5Pointz: Flickr / Nelson Minar
Manhattanhenge: Flickr / MichaelTapp

*UPDATE* The Statue of Liberty Interior Will Open in On July Fourth Weekend

UPDATE: Due to the Superstorm Sandy, Liberty Island will be closed for the remainder of 2012.  Re-opening date TBD, per National Park Service.

UPDATE #2: The Statue of Liberty and Liberty Island will re-open on July 4th, 2013, per National Park Service. In the meantime, if you would like to see the Statue of Liberty, try a New York Harbor Cruise for some of the best views of Lady Liberty.

Since last October, the interior of the Statue of Liberty has been closed due to renovations.  Many tourists who come to New York each year want to climb to the top of Lady Liberty because it represents New York, America and Freedom unlike any other monument.  But for the past year they have been out of luck.

On October 28, the Statue’s 126th birthday, the interior of the Statue of Liberty will once again be open to the public!  Right now, Statue sightseeing has been limited to trips to Liberty Island and harbor cruises around the monument, but finally we will now be able to climb into the crown again.

Now that the Statue of Liberty is going to re-open, do you plan on making a trip?  Have you ever been before?  Let us know in the comments.


Ask Gray Line: “What are the top 5 things she must do?”

Top of the Rock

Jeny from Sydney asks:

“My sister is arriving to NYC on 4th July – she only has a day – what are the top 5 things she must do!!”

Thanks for the question, Jenny! First things first, I’m not sure if you are aware that here in the States the 4th of July is a pretty important day.  In honor of our Declaration of Independence in 1776, we take the day off work and launch colorful explosives (fireworks) into the sky.  The Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Show on the Hudson River is arguably the best in the world, so your sister chose a pretty good day to come.  That being said, the #1 thing she must do is watch the fireworks.  We’ve covered the best places to watch the show in a previous blog post.

After that, all else is secondary.  It’s really tough to narrow down 5 things to do in the city, especially when I have never met your sister.  Is she into art? –Museum Mile.  Does she like shopping? –SoHo, 5th Ave.  Does she want to be a tourist and see the sights? —Double Decker Bus Tour.

I’m not going to make a top 5 list, per se, but I will offer some quality suggestions based on a few assumptions.  1st assumption: She’s never been to New York.  2nd assumption: She won’t have time to visit the outer boroughs since she only has one day and she needs to watch the fireworks on the Hudson.

Be a tourist: There’s no shame in it. A double decker bus tour is the best way to see a lot in a short amount of time.  You’ll see and learn more than if you try to do the city on your own.

Buy something off the street: New York has street vendors everywhere.  Buy some fresh fruit, a hot dog, some fake Ray-Bans (If they’re being sold on the street, they’re not real).  Things are cheaper on the street, you can negotiate the price and are often just as good as the high priced items in our stores.

Go to the top of a tall building: Empire State Building or Top of the Rock, you need to stop by one of these two places.  They’re the best views in NYC, from high above the millions of people living their lives.

Bow Bridge, Central Park

Take a walk through Central Park: I love Central Park, I’ll admit it.  I’ve been to quite a few parks in quite a few cities, but nothing compares to Central Park.  It’s so peaceful and relaxing; direct contrast of the frenzied society outside its perimeter.  Just walk around and lose yourself or check a map for some specific sites within the park, but definitely stop by.

Now, in the span of one day, doing all four of these things and still making it someplace in time for a good view of the fireworks will be tough to do, so pick and choose. These are some very general suggestions, so don’t forget that NYC caters to its guests.  Whatever you’re into, you can find it in Manhattan.

Do you have a question that you want to be answered? Shoot us an email at ask@graylinenewyork.com and it may be featured in a blog or in our monthly newsletter.

Where NOT to watch the 4th of July Fireworks in NYC

Last week we gave you the 4 best places to watch the fireworks in NYC.  The list may have seemed a bit obvious, (ok, it was as obvious as it gets) but there were quite a few people who had asked for specifics (streets and tours) so we gave them.  And while many people may think that finding a spot to watch the fireworks is easy, don’t kid yourself.  There are many places that you may think are great for watching the show, but are either closed or have obstructed views.  So here is part II of our Where to Watch the Fireworks series: Where not to watch the 4th of July Fireworks in NYC:

Photo: Shutterstock

Battery Park

Battery Park has been put on the “not a viewing area” list.  Whether this means that the area will be closed to viewers or that the show won’t be able to be seen over the Financial District buildings doesn’t matter.  You just shouldn’t go there. (Battery Park City is also “not a viewing area”)

Hudson River Park Piers (except pier 84)

All Hudson River Park piers (except pier 84) will be closed during the fireworks show, so don’t try to find a spot there, either.  Yeah, it’d make for great viewing, but there’s no getting around the fact that they’re closed.  (Even if you’re feeling rebellious, don’t try to sneak into one of the piers.  You know security will be tight all day. You’ll just end up getting arrested, and a jail cell is definitely not a good place to watch the show.)

The East side of Manhattan

Maybe there’s a cool party on the east side or a bar with a great drink special, but heed this little piece of advice: There are some really tall buildings in New York.  If you find yourself a ground level on 2nd Avenue, you’re probably going to have an obstructed view of the show, at best.  This may seem obvious, but think about it while you’re making you plans.


Come on.  You’re thinking about watching from inside your apartment?  What’s the fun in that?  You don’t get to hear sounds of the crackling fireworks or feel the cool air of a summer night on your skin.  Maybe I’m romanticizing it a little bit, but the Fourth of July Fireworks show is more than just pretty lights in the sky.  You need to get all senses involved to fully capture the spirit of the night. (The exception to this rule is if you’re in a really tall, really cool building with big windows.  I bet the view from 60 stories up it awesome)

Ok, so you’re probably thinking to yourself that this list was obvious too, and it was.  Don’t stand behind big buildings or in places that it’s illegal to stand.  But it was still necessary to put out there.  You know that one of your friends will suggest watching from one of these locales, so if this helps even just a few people, I’ve done my job.  Enjoy the show and celebrate responsibly (since you’re probably working on Thursday).

(UPDATE: The High Line will close at 6 p.m. tomorrow, so don’t go there for the show)

Know of any terrible places in NYC to watch the fireworks? Or good one’s for that matter? Let us know in the comments!

**Correction: the original version of this blog stated that the Hudson River Piers were all closed, when in fact it was meant the the Hudson River Park Piers are closed. 

Fourth of July in NYC (SOLD OUT)

Fourth of July Fireworks, NYC

(SOLD OUT) This year, celebrate the 4th of July the way you’ve always wanted to: in New York City!  Watch the Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks from the waters around Manhattan aboard our annual exclusive Fireworks Cruise.  Enjoy a live DJ, a casual dinner menu and bar while you journey around New York and marvel at the fireworks above!  Tickets are going fast, so to reserve your seat, visit our website now! (SOLD OUT)

For other 4th of July Firework watching options, check out our blog post “Where to watch the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks in NYC”