Fourth of July events for kids: Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks
Fourth of July events for kids: Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest
Fourth of July events for kids: Statue of Liberty reopening
Fourth of July events for kids: FourthFest Fireworks at Coney Island
Fourth of July events for kids: Fireworks cruises
Fourth of July events for kids: "Foundations of Freedom" at the New York Public Library Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
Fourth of July events for kids: Independence Day Scavenger Hunt
Fourth of July events for kids: The History of Ice Cream at DiMenna Children's Museum
Fourth of July events for kids: Declare Independence
Fourth of July events for kids: Fourth of July Fireworks Viewing Party at the Intrepid
Fourth of July events for kids: New York Philharmonic Summertime Classics: Star-Spangled Celebration
Fourth of July events for kids: TriBattery Pops: Independence Day Concert
Fourth of July events for kids: Special House Tours: Louis Armstrong Birthday Tours
Fourth of July events for kids: Independence Day at CMOM
Fourth of July events for kids: Independence Day Party at Historic Richmond Town, Staten Island
Nobody celebrates our nation’s birthday with quite as much style (or hot dogs) as New York City—and this summer, families can expect the usual over-the-top Fourth of July events like pyrotechnic displays (Macy's will explode more than 40,000 fireworks choreographed to a playlist courtesy of R&B superstar Usher) plus patriotic fun at parks and museums all over the city. Check out our list of the best Fourth of July events for kids this year, from visiting the newly reopened Lady Liberty to scavenging for Revolution-era artifacts. Happy Fourth!
Fourth of July events for kids
For this mother of all pyrotechnic displays, Macy's will explode more than 40,000 fireworks choreographed to a 25-minute patriotic playlist, courtesy of R&B superstar Usher. During the big finale, turn eastwards for mirroring lights on the top of the Empire State Building, where a mashup of Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York" and Jay-Z's "Empire State of Mind" will set the show. Stake out a nice spot along the Hudson to watch, and bring your own picnic basket with beverages to toast our country's birthday. All ages.
Since 1916, Nathan's flagship restaurant on Coney Island has hosted this gut-busting competitive-eating showdown. Celebrate our nation’s independence by joining an estimated 40,000 viewers in watching people stuff their faces with franks—reigning champ Joey Chestnut is back in action after winning his sixth contest and tying for the honor of Most Consecutive Wins last year. The flagship location of Nathan’s Famous was hit hard by Sandy and had to close for part of the season, but despite the setback, the company will still make its usual donation of 100,000 hot dogs to the Food Bank for New York City.All ages.
After suffering extensive damage from Hurricane Sandy, Lady Liberty will reopen to the public for the first time since the storm this Independence Day. Be sure to reserve tickets online before you go—she'll be the most popular woman in town this summer. All ages.
Why bother wrestling for a spot on the Hudson when Coney Island fires off its own show? Bring the family to the home of the Brooklyn Cyclones, where they'll munch on a pig roast (Mom and Dad can also enjoy a "Beers of New York" beer garden), enjoy a pre-fireworks performance by the String Ochestra of Brooklyn plus live music from local cover bands, compete in a contest to determine the winner of the Cyclones' "Fastest Arm in Brooklyn" on the speed pitch and of course, sit back and toast the big day with fireworks (9:30pm). Admission is free, but donations will be accepted to benefit the Brooklyn Public Library and #ConeyRecovers, a group of local organizations assisting the rebuilding of Coney Island. All ages.
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 South Street Seaport ($165) which include a snack box for each guest. For an even grander evening, climb aboard the Pioneer sailboat for a barbecue buffet and an open bar for Mom and Dad ($275, under 12 $225). Classic Harbor Line also offers an array of (very glamorous) yacht cruises ($326–$426), while City Sightseeing Cruises will host a live DJ and casual atmosphere ($149). The cheapest option? Circle Line cruises go for a mere $95 a pop. Check the websites for tickets and more information.
Get a rare glimpse of our nation’s history at this New York Public Library exhibit. For three days only, the library will display two of its archival treasures: an original copy of the Bill of Rights and a copy of the Declaration of Independence handwritten by Thomas Jefferson. The former is one of 14 documents that were sent to different states for approval in 1789, and includes two amendments that do not appear in the Bill of Rights today. The latter is a draft that was completed on July 1, 1776, and contains passages—underlined by Jefferson in this copy—that were taken out before the Declaration was ratified on July 4. Ages 7 and up.
Scour the museum's permanent collection for Revolution-era artifacts like the statue of King George (that tyrant!) or George Washington's war cot. Special guest Benjamin Franklin will also be around to discuss his many inventions and experiments with electricity as well as his involvement with the Declaration of Independence. Afterwards, hear eighteenth-century songs and stories from the Hudson River Ramblers. All ages.
Help the experts crank out (literally!) historical flavors like orange flower water and mint, then sample the results yourself! Families will learn all about the process of ice cream–making while trying their hand at 18th- and 19th-century cooking. Be sure to say hello to Ben Franklin, who'll be meandering throughout the museum all day long! All ages.
Get a prime view of the Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks aboard the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. Seating is available on the aircraft carrier's flight deck, starboard elevator, starboard balcony, fantail, or on Pier 86, and guests will have exclusive access to the museum starting at 7pm (the fireworks begin at approximately 9:20). Complimentary food and drinks will be served, and the Intrepid will play a simulcast of the Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks Musical Score as guests watch the sparkling show over the Hudson River. All ages.
The busy Phil is only presenting two Summertime Classics concerts this season, but they're both boisterous, eventful affairs conducted by Bramwell Tovey. The first one offers a solid slate of American classics and patriotic standards: Bernstein, Copland and lots (and lots) of Sousa, with the U.S. Coast Guard Band on hand for added oomph. Ages 8 and up.
Louis Armstrong always celebrated his birthday on the Fourth of July, though his real birthday was exactly one month later. The museum honors the legendary musician by remaining open for special tours that include celebratory birthday photos, audio clips and a complimentary cupcake for kids under age 13. All ages.
Children celebrate our nation's birthday by crafting red, white and blue Lady Liberty sculptures and dreaming up their own definitions of freedom (10am–12:30pm; 1–4:30pm). Little sibs can play with confetti and shiny paper to create a collage that mimicks the Fourth of July Fireworks (ages 4 and under, 10am and 1pm). All ages.