If you don’t have the scratch to watch the Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks from a party with views of the action, parks are always a good (if crowded) option — but there’s a catch this year.
Two of what are usually the best spots won’t have any views this year because Macy’s has lined up all of its barges between 23rd and 41st streets on the East River. That means Brooklyn Bridge Park and the South Street Seaport are out. And only Roosevelt Island residents managed to snag tickets for the free viewing party at Four Freedoms Park.
With an especially over-the-top show in store — Macy’s has upped the usual 50,000 pounds of fireworks to 60,000 — it’s worth the trek to these free public viewing spots.
Gantry State Park and Hunters Point
These two parks make for a scenic sliver along the water. With all the elevated walkways and intricate landscaping, it’s more like a nature walk than open parkland, so there’s not much space to picnic. Which is why you should start your day at LIC Flea & Food just a block from the park (it’s easier than ever to get there on the East River Ferry). A special Tuesday edition of the open-air market will have food vendors and a beer garden. When it’s time for the show, watch from the promenade or one of four piers. LIC Flea & Food open 2-11:30 p.m., 5-25 46th Ave., Long Island City
Greenpoint’s recently revamped pocket park sits right on the water next to the Brooklyn Barge. Grab a pizza from Paulie Gee’s and a cake from Ovenly on your walk out there, spread out a picnic blanket and enjoy your evening. East River between Kent St. and Greenpoint Ave., Greenpoint
East River Park
Despite moving the fireworks display north, Macy’s still has this Lower East Side park as one of its official viewing locations. With 57 acres of bike paths, playgrounds, playing fields and gardens, you can make a day of it at Manhattan’s 1.5-mile riverside park before settling in for the fireworks.
One of the official Macy’s viewing spots, FDR Drive will be closed to traffic. You’ll want to stay between Houston and 42nd Street, where you’ll find some of the most dramatic views courtesy of the Queensboro Bridge. At 34th and 23rd streets, you’ll be right in front of the barges.
You don't need to be next to the fireworks if there are no buildings in the way! You'll have an amazing vantage point on the action from either side of the Williamsburg Bridge. Bonus: not having to jostle with the midtown crowds to get on a train afterward.
Flee to Coney Island
You know what? Forget the hassle of trying to get to the same fireworks as everyone else and use the long weekend to cross off a major NYC bucket list item and head to Coney Island. If you haven’t personally witnessed the modern-day feat of strength that is Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, arrive early (action starts at 10 a.m.). Once the champion is crowned, spend your day riding the rides (Luna Park’s Cyclone may be 90 but it’s never been more spry), and don’t miss the outdoor Coney Art Walls mural gallery. Be on the Boardwalk when fireworks start at 9:30 p.m.