Where to watch the Fourth of July fireworks in NYC this year

Jun 18, 2021

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Independence Day is right around the corner, and if you haven’t made plans yet, now is the time to do so.

Last year’s holiday was certainly different as the country was just coming out of months long lockdowns and protests for racial justice. 2020’s Fourth of July festivities were rather muted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but this year’s Independence Day is expected to be busy, especially in New York City.

Macy’s 45th annual Fourth of July fireworks show will return this year, and the show will honor front-line workers such as nurses, doctors and mail carriers. Macy’s will launch 65,000 shells and effects from five barges on the East River, according to a news release. The show will start around 9:25 p.m. EDT. The show also coincides with New York City’s plans to “fully reopen” on July 1, as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared earlier this year.

“I’m happy to announce that America’s biggest fireworks display is back,” de Blasio said last week, according to Gothamist. “They are bringing the full-scale fireworks show as we have loved it for decades and decades back to NYC for all of us to enjoy. This will be the biggest show yet. Literally, Macy’s is putting together the biggest fireworks display they’ve ever had.”

And with traffic around New York City notoriously slow, it’s a good excuse for New Yorkers to sit tight and plan a staycation. Of course, if you don’t mind braving the traffic (or the airport crowds), New York City may be one of the most fun cities in the nation for Independence Day festivities. So if you want to celebrate in style — and with a refreshing drink in hand — head to one of these great spots to watch the fireworks explode over the Big Apple.

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Where to watch the July Fourth fireworks in NYC

Along FDR Drive

Macy’s says there will be viewing locations for fully vaccinated spectators on elevated portions of the FDR Drive in Manhattan with entry points at East 23rd, East 34th and East 42nd streets. It’s not exactly clear, yet, where Macy’s will set up the fireworks but these streets indicate that the best views will likely be seen around midtown Manhattan. Macy’s said as much in its news release, stating that the show can be viewed in “any area with an unobstructed view of the sky above the East River in Midtown.”

The public viewing locations will be managed by the New York City Police Department. Fully vaccinated spectators with special needs can access the East 34th Street entry point, according to Macy’s. There will also be spaces for unvaccinated spectators along portions of the Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan waterfronts.

Coney Island

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

If you happen to miss the Macy’s fireworks show, don’t worry — there will likely be fireworks shows throughout the city. According to the mayor’s office, there will be a fireworks show at Coney Island after the Macy’s show. If you’re planning to ditch your car, Coney Island is accessible by taking the D, F, N or Q train to the Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue station. If you’re coming from midtown Manhattan, the journey is about 55 minutes by subway.

Rooftop hotels

New York City hotel rooftops are known for some of the most picturesque views in the world. If you’re looking for good views, you may want to consider checking in to a hotel for the weekend.

Hotel 50 Bowery, located in lower Manhattan, has a trendy rooftop bar called The Crown featuring both indoor and outdoor seating with sweeping views, elevated cocktails (read: pricey) and small bites. Rates for Independence Day weekend start at about $220, or 20,000 World of Hyatt points, per night.

The Millennium Hilton New York One UN Plaza has a 30th-floor executive lounge and is a relatively low-cost redemption for staying in Manhattan in the summertime. The Skyline Club Lounge is available to Gold and Diamond status holders, who can enjoy continental breakfast, all-day refreshments and evening appetizers. Other guests may purchase lounge access for a daily fee.

If you’re a Hilton Hotels loyalist, you can book rooms at this hotel over the holiday weekend starting at 58,000 Hilton Honors points or $200 per night.

At home

While nearly 60% of New York City residents over 18 are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, it may take time to feel comfortable around people not in your immediate household. If you aren’t comfortable with being around large crowds (or if you won’t be in New York City for the holiday) you can catch the show from the comfort of your living room live on NBC starting at 8 p.m. EDT.

Featured photo courtesy of Julienne Schaer/NYC & Company.

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