The best free things to do on the 4th of July in NYC

Celebrate America's independence this 4th of July with awesome events that won't cost you a thing
4th of July Fireworks: Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks
Photograph: Grace Chu 4th of July Fireworks: Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks

Freedom is best when celebrated for free, right? Whether you're watching the 4th of July fireworks in NYC, heading to one of the top 4th of July events or going to one of the best beaches, you're in for a red, white and blue extravaganza. Here's our favorite picks that won't cost you anything at all so you can spend more money on inflatable eagles and star-spangled swimsuits.

RECOMMENDED: Full coverage of the 4th of July in NYC

Free things to do on the 4th of July

Photograph: Julienne Schaer
Attractions, Parks and gardens

Picnic in Brooklyn Bridge Park

icon-location-pin Brooklyn Heights

Pack up hot dogs, hamburgers, cupcakes and chips, and head to Brooklyn Bridge Park to claim your spot for the fireworks. Get there early enough to soak in some sun and check out Jeppe Hein's public art installations (one of which incorporates spurts of water you can cool off in), and bring some comfy blankets to settle in for the long haul. That view of the Manhattan skyline will be worth it.

Photograph: Shutterstock
Things to do

July 4th at Jacob Riis Bazaar

For a full day of sun, sand and riding both literal and figurative waves of good tunes, head to Jacob Riis Park on the Rockaway Peninsula. The folks behind Brooklyn Night Bazaar (R.I.P.) have booked Kings County’s Uriel J. Winfree III and Jamie Register to perform live, while DJs Dirtyboogie, Big Victory and Edward Eskew provide danceworthy jams.

Coney Island beach
Photograph: Melissa Sinclair
Things to do

Third Annual Fourth of July Beach Party

Live music, booze, food, fireworks and a beach view—you can’t ask for much more than that on Independence Day. Last year's party began at 9am and went until midnight, so assume you're in for a full day of partying, unless you need to leave for a quick drunken ride on the Cyclone (you will definitely be tempted).

4th of July Fireworks: Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks
Photograph: Grace Chu
Things to do

Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks

The epic light show stays on the East River this year (sorry, Jersey), and you can catch it from any rooftop in Manhattan, Queens or Brooklyn. Or check out party spots like Berry Park or Fornino, or head to vantage points like the Brooklyn Promenade or South Street Seaport. All you have to do is look up!

Staten Island
Photograph: Ludovic Bertron / Wikimedia Commons
Things to do

Travis Fourth of July Parade

Take in a traditional Independence Day parade in the small Staten Island community of Travis, which hosts its 105th annual promenade. The enclave is also known for festooning its houses with elaborate, patriotic decorations for its home-decorating contest. Arrive early so you can check out all of the red, white and blue finery. Then grab a seat at the viewing center.