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4th of July events for kids and families in New York City

There's plenty of patriotic fun in store for families this 4th of July! Fete Independence Day with fireworks, crafts, a hot dog chow-down and more.

Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks 2013

Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks 2013 Photograph: Grace Chu

Don your star-spangled duds and gear up for an extended weekend of family fun, starting off with all-American traditions unique to the Big Apple. Make your way to Coney Island to behold the gluttonous spectacle that is Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, then post up by the East River at dusk to ooh and ahh at Macy's extravagant fireworks display. Keep the festivities going throughout the weekend with an Independence Day scavenger hunt, kid-friendly shows and concerts and more. Have a happy 4th of July!


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Fourth of July events for kids

Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks

  • Critics choice
  • Free

For this mother of all pyrotechnic displays, Macy's will explode more than 40,000 fireworks—and this year, they're finally returning back to their home on the East River. Stake out a nice spot along Brooklyn Bridge Park, the Brooklyn Promenade or the South Street Seaport to watch, and bring your own picnic basket with beverages to toast our country's birthday. All ages.

  1. Manhattan
  2. Sat Jul 4
More info

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

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Celebrate our nation’s independence by joining an estimated 40,000 viewers in watching people stuff their faces with franks. (America, ladies and gents.) After downing 69 hot dogs in ten minutes in 2013, reigning champ Joey Chestnut is back and hungry for his eighth consecutive title this year. All ages.

  1. Nathan's Famous 1310 Surf Ave, at Stillwell Ave, 11224
  2. Sat Jul 4
More info
Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks 2013

Fireworks cruises

For those willing to dish out the big bucks, a cruise on the Hudson is the only way to view the Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks. Be sure to book fast—tickets, although not cheap, always sell out fast. New York Water Taxi offers tours from Pier 45 ($175) which include a buffet dinner and beverages for guests. Circle Line also offers a front row view of the pyrotechnics ($125), while City Sightseeing Cruises will host a live DJ and casual atmosphere ($150). The cheapest options? Seastreak catamaran cruises departing from Highlands Terminal in New Jersey go for a mere $80 a pop, and the Island Current Fleet from City Island in the Bronx invites families to bring their own food and drink, but provide a DJ and 5-hour sail for just $75. Check the websites for tickets and more information.

Families Celebrate Independence Day

  • Price band: 1/4

July 4th is about more than just barbecues and fireworks. At this all-day event, families will travel back to 1776 to learn about some of the legends who witnessed the birth of our nation.Troubadour duo the Hudson River Ramblers (dressed in 18th century attire) will educate little ones about the Revolution through storytelling and music (11:30am, 1:30 and 2:30pm). Kids can also join in an Independence Day scavenger hunt (10am–6pm; ages 4 and up) and craft tricorner hats before signing up to join the cause(11am–4pm). All ages.

  1. New-York Historical Society 170 Central Park West, between 76th and 77th Sts
  2. Fri Jul 4
More info

Greenlight Saturday Storytime 2014

  • Free

Kids' authors and illustrators (or staffers from Brooklyn's family-friendly Greenlight Bookstore) sit down with kids and their caregivers to read from their own picture books (or their favorites), be they classics or brand-new creations. In July, celebrate our great American heroes including musicians, inventors, presidents and more, then make a 4th of July craft (July 5); discover school with Julie Saab and David Gothard who created the tale of a cat named Little Lola (July 12); count along with Alexis Barad-Cutler as she presents Five Hungry Pandas: A Count and Crunch Book (July 19) and share a mouse's passion for dancing in Jan Carr's Toe Shoe Mouse (July 26). Ages 3 to 8.

  1. Greenlight Bookstore 686 Fulton St, at South Portland Ave
  2. Sat Jan 3 - Sat Jan 31
More info

"Homefront & Battlefield: Quilts & Context in the Civil War"

  • Price band: 1/4

The New-York Historical Society has come up with an amazing way to commemorate the 150th anniversary of what's likely the most heartrending moments in U.S. history: the Civil War. This show looks at the personal stories told by quilts, clothing and other artifacts made on the homefront at a time when familial bonds were put to the test by forces beyond anyone's control. All ages.

  1. New-York Historical Society 170 Central Park West, between 76th and 77th Sts
  2. Until Sun Aug 24
More info

Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

The Latin Grammy–winning family band is touring the nation this summer, sharing tunes from their new album, Aqui, Alla? Los Angeles imports Lucky and Alisha brought their daughter Ella along for a three-day marathon of shows at the Bronx Zoo where they'll perform kindie hits from the new record, as well as favorites from their last Spanish album, Fantastico! All ages.

  1. Bronx Zoo Wildlife Conservation Society 2300 Southern Blvd, at Fordham Rd, 10458
  2. Until Sun Jul 6
More info

NYC Audubon Summer EcoCruise

  • Price band: 2/4

Hands-down the best thing to do as a family on a summer Sunday night, Water Taxi's Audubon naturalist–led, 90-minute Harbor Heroneco-cruise takes seafarers to one of three locales this summer: the Brother Islands, at the mouth of Long Island Sound (June 22 and August 3); Hoffman and Swinburne islands, off the coast of Staten Island (July 8); and Jamaica Bay (July 6, August 10 and 17; see website for pricing). You'll learn amazing things about the NYC ecosystem and see with your own eyes the kind of wildlife sanctuary a city can be. Ages 5 and up.

  1. South Street Seaport, Pier 17 Fulton St, at Water St
  2. Until Sun Aug 17
More info

“Spiders Alive!”

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Get up close and personal with more than 20 species of one of the world's most essential predators. "Spiders Alive!" lets you and your kids come face-to-face with live spiders from the museum's research collection (the largest in the world), learn about spiders' behavior and anatomies, and take a picture atop a giant arachnid model. Visitors are able to watch, learn and even touch these creepy creatures for up to three months! Be sure to check out 15-minute presentations in which the museum's resident spider experts handle live tarantulas and other species of spiders. All ages.

  1. American Museum of Natural History Central Park West, at 79th St, 10024
  2. Until Sun Nov 2
More info

KidAround at SEE/CHANGE

The South Street Seaport will host a KidAround event to kick off their SEE/CHANGE Summer series. The event will feature a special performance by Tim & the Space Cadets, a Little Bookworms story time, and jams from kid-friendly DJ BagelBites. All ages.

  1. South Street Seaport 19 Fulton St, at Front St
  2. Sun Aug 31
More info

The Little Mermaid

Go under the sea for an interactive rendition of this classic story about a young mermaid who longs for life on land. On Saturdays after the show, kids can get into costume and act out the character of their choice during a 40-minute workshop culminating in a presentation for family members. Ages 4 and up.

  1. Galli's Fairytale Theater 347 West 36th St, between Eighth and Ninth Aves
  2. Until Sun Jul 27
More info

State Fair Meadowlands

  • Price band: 1/4

The giant fair offers more than 150 rides and attractions, plus tons of free entertainment, including master hypnotist Steve Bayner, racing pigs, an open-air circus, a petting zoo, lions and tigers, and fireworks (July 3 & 4). Opening day (June 20) admission is only $1; kids under 13 are free on June 25. Check the website for the full schedule. All ages.

  1. Meadowlands Fairgrounds 50 Rte 120
  2. Until Mon Jul 7
More info

SummerStage Global Family Day

  • Free

There are tons of concerts for adults at SummerStage, but this show is geared to the peanut gallery. Headlining the Central Park mainstage's family day are the Okee Dokee Brothers, the Colorado bluegrass duo who'll croon songs like "Can You Canoe?". The boundary-defying Hybrid Movement Company, Australian dance crew Shaun Parker & Company, the Acrobuffos and the National Dance Institute round out the lineup. For a complete schedule, visit cityparksfoundation.org. All ages.

  1. SummerStage Mainstage Rumsey Playfield, Central Park, enter at Fifth Ave and 72nd St
  2. Until Sun Jul 6
More info


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