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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. After all, AAA is predicting that this year’s holiday will be a record-breaker, with an estimated 46.9 million Americans traveling at least 50 miles to celebrate the long weekend.

And with traffic around New York City expected to move 2.3 times slower than usual, 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 — JFK landed on Hopper’s list of the top five busiest airports for July 4 travel), New York City may be one of the most fun cities in the nation for Independence Day festivities.

In New York City, where Macy’s will be putting on its largest pyrotechnic display since 2000 with 75,000 shells, revelers are being urged to leave their cars behind and take the MTA instead. This year, the barges will be set up in the East River just south of Roosevelt Island and the fireworks will begin around 9:25pm. Official viewing areas include elevated portions of FDR Drive with public access opening at 7:00pm at Houston, 23rd, 34th and 42nd Streets, as well as the waterfront along the East River in Brooklyn.

But if you want to celebrate in style — and with a refreshing drink in hand — head to one of these seven great spots to watch the fireworks explode over the Big Apple.

Westlight’s view of Manhattan. (Photo courtesy of the William Vale)

Where to Watch the July Fourth Fireworks

Ophelia, East Midtown’s buzzy new rooftop bar, will host a July Fourth party with a DJ from 6:30pm to 9:30pm. Set on the 26th floor of the historic Beekman Tower, the bar will offer prime views (save for the terrace’s south side, where buildings could potentially obstruct the fireworks), a three-hour open bar, a raw bar and passed hors d’oeuvres (including beef tenderloin crostini, Indonesian chicken satays, chimichurri braised short ribs and an assortment of flatbreads). Head bartender Amir Babayoff will shake up red, white and blue cocktails in addition to pouring wine and champagne. Tickets, for $200 per person, are available through Eventbrite.

In Greenpoint and Williamsburg, you can expect to find crowds in the parks along the waterfront, including Transmitter Park, East River State Park, Grand Ferry Park and the newly opened Domino Park, where Danny Meyer’s Tacocina taco stand has had New Yorkers lining up since it opened on June 10. Domino Park (which is publicly accessible but privately owned) will be open on a first come, first served basis with no reserved or special seating. The park’s staff will be monitoring crowds and could enforce bag checks or other restrictions.

The Ides bar at the Wythe Hotel (Photo by Matthew Williams for Wythe Hotel)

The Ides, the rooftop bar at the Wythe Hotel, will host a ticketed event with entry available at 15-minute intervals between 7:30pm and 8:45pm. Tickets cost $100 per person for indoor tables with skyline views, $75 per person for tables on the patio with partial skyline views, and $50 for standing room. An a la carte menu of food and drinks will be available, but it’s not included in the ticket price.

Output, a dance club also on Wythe Avenue, will have sets by Berlin-based techno duo Pan-Pot and German DJ Black Peters on July 4, with doors opening at 10:00pm. Early bird tickets are sold out, but there are still tickets available for $30 to $40. (There’s still no word on whether the Roof will be open.)

Just across Wythe Avenue, the William Vale will host a ticketed dance party by Babël at Westlight and the rooftop on the 23rd floor. The food menu features small bites like chicken wings with honey mustard, a burger slider made with dry-aged beef and a secret sauce, shrimp cocktail dumplings and perfectly festive champagne freeze pops. Tickets start at $100, available through Eventbrite. The hotel is also offering a special “Dip into Brooklyn” package that grants 15% off any room category and a complimentary bottle of rosé upon arrival. Be sure to request a Standard King or Gotham King facing the East River for the best views of the fireworks.

(Photo courtesy of Northern Territory)
(Photo courtesy of Northern Territory)

A bit farther north, in Greenpoint, Northern Territory — which has a chill rooftop space with large wooden tables and stools — will be hosting a party with a DJ; boozy cotton candy; and red, white and blue drink specials in addition to the regular menu. Tickets, which cost $60 per person and don’t include either food or drinks, will only be available at the door starting at 4:00pm on July 4. Sales are cash only, and available on a first come, first served basis. The party is strictly for guests ages 21 and older. Northern Territory is also donating $20 from each ticket sold to the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project, which aids refugees coming to the United States fleeing violence.

To be right on the waterfront, you can’t beat the Brooklyn Barge — it is, after all, floating on the East River. This year, the Barge will host a ticketed event with craft beer, cocktails, a family-style barbecue and, of course, panoramic views of the fireworks. Tickets start at $155 per person and are on sale with Eventbrite.

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