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4th of July activities for kids in NYC

Enjoy patriotic 4th of July activities for kids, including fireworks shows, festivals, historical fun and more!

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

New York City is full of amazing 4th of July activities for kids! Not to be missed are quintessential New York to do’s like the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island and the biggest party of all, the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular. Our ranked list below will offer up an itinerary of Independence Day fun for all ages.

RECOMMENDED: Full coverage of 4th of July for kids in NYC

Keep the fun going long after these 4th of July activities for kids have come and gone with our favorite free summer activities for kids and other summer activities for kids. Then beat the heat with a treat from one of our favorite ice cream shops.


4th of July activities for kids


Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks


For this mother of all pyrotechnic displays, Macy's will explode more than 60,000 fireworks along 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. RECOMMENDED: 4th of July events and where to watch the fireworks

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Various locations Tuesday July 4 2017

Watch the 4th of July fireworks in NYC with kids (from these cool spots)

At these festive 4th of July fireworks, NYC families can watch red, white and blue pyrotechnics light up the sky. Awesome 4th of July events for kids are sure to keep you and the gang busy throughout the day, but our nation's birthday wouldn't be complete without a dazzling show to cap it off. Settle in for view of the annual Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks over the East River, or ooh and ahh at other spectacles from a seat at a local ballpark or from a spot in the sand on NYC beaches like Coney Island.

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By: Hannah Doolin

Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest


Since 1916, Nathan's flagship restaurant on Coney Island has hosted this gut-busting competitive-eating showdown. Reigning champions Joey Chestnut and Miki Sudo return to Coney Island to defend their 2016 titles after wolfing down 70 and 38.5 franks, respectively, in just 10 minutes. Will Joey beat his world record of 73 hot dogs consumed or will a new contender rise up to the challenge and head home with the champion’s belt and a full stomach? All ages.

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Nathan’s Famous , Brooklyn Tuesday July 4 2017

Get your thrills at Luna Park!


After watching competitive food eaters stuff face at the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, buy a frank or two for yourself and head on over to Luna Park. Fun rides and games for all ages include the iconic Cyclone rollecoaster, which celebrates 90 years this summer, teacup rides and race cars, plus the Sling Shot and Zenobio for big thrill-seekers! Afterward, Coney Island celebrates America’s birthday with a fireworks show all their own.

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Independence Day: Celebrating American Identities

Celebrate the 4th of July by watching reenactments of the Revolutionary War and the diverse soldiers that fought for our country’s independence. The Hudson River Ramblers will sing tunes and recount tales of 200 years ago, including the real meaning behind “Yankee Doodle” and the girl who outrode Paul Revere. Borrow a History Detective briefcase to explore the museum’s new Luce Center and discover the past through a variety of family activities and interactive challenges in the new galleries. Trivia games will test American history skills and kids will get a taste of that era’s culture—as well as today’s—through arts and craft projects. When hunger strikes, hot dogs and kid-friendly lunch items will be for sale as well as flag-shaped sugar cookies that kids can decorate while they chow down. All ages.

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New-York Historical Society | Manhattan, NY , Upper West Side Tuesday July 4 2017

Jersey City Freedom & Fireworks Festival

If you’re looking to catch a fireworks show with a view of the NYC skyline then hop on over to the Jersey side of the Hudson. Not only will you be treated to views of lower Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island as the fireworks go off, but there will be live music, carnival rides, vendors selling yummy food and drinks and kid-friendly entertainment all day long. All ages.

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Liberty State Park Tuesday July 4 2017

Spectacular Fireworks Night

New Jersey’s state fair offers more than 150 rides and loads of shows and activities to keep the whole family entertained. Free shows include open-air acrobatics, racing pigs, cuddly animals at the petting zoo and a high dive show. At 11pm, nab a spot with the littles to watch the sky light up with fireworks. All ages.

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MetLife Stadium Monday July 3 2017 - Tuesday July 4 2017

Circle Line July 4th Fireworks Cruise

Avoid the crowds vying for a good spot to catch the Macy’s 4th of July fireworks and take to the waters instead. The Circle Line is hosting its annual July 4th Fireworks Cruise for family’s looking to be right under the action with no comforts lost—an outdoor deck as well as indoor seating with heat/air-conditioning, large windows, music, food and restrooms will take the stress out of catching the light show with little ones in tow. The cruise sets sail at 6pm from Pier 83 on the Hudson River and makes its way south. Shoot photos of the Statue of Liberty from 100 feet away before heading towards the Brooklyn Bridge in time to catch the fireworks go off along the East River. All ages.

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Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises , Hell's Kitchen Tuesday July 4 2017

More fun activities for kids

The best free activities for kids in New York City

Do you love free activities for kids? Of course you do! Your suburban friends might question why we think NYC is the best place to raise a family, especially because things can get pretty pricey when you're living it up (or really just living!) in The Big Apple. The truth is...no one can really deny that New York life is expensive, which is why we've decided to give you some ammo against the naysayers: your ultimate guide to keeping family time fun-filled and free for all! These free things to do for kids will keep 'em busy through every season, and you won't mind partaking, either. This stuff is awesome! Got down time? Don't forget to check out our favorite outdoor activities for kids, indoor activities for kids and best kids' movies, too!

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By: Allie Early