Independence Day in New York City rolls in with a bang, as the city celebrates every July 4th with several unparalleled fireworks shows. The three main fireworks displays take place on the East River near Midtown, at South Street Seaport downtown, and on the Hudson in Jersey City at Liberty State Park. From a high-up vantage point in Manhattan, one would be able to see all three displays at once! However, you may want to pick one location and set up with a picnic and a blanket in a nearby park - locations do fill up fast, so arrive in the afternoon and have fun with your family until sundown. For $20, you can travel to Roosevelt Island, which is in the middle of the East River and is a prime fireworks-viewing location. The admission includes live musical entertainment, a chair to sit in, and fun activities for the kids like face painting. A local BBQ restaurant also serves cookout at the event at reasonable prices.
A fun alternative to watching the fireworks from land is to watch them from a boat. Numerous yacht and cruise lines have fireworks-viewing boat trips on the Hudson and the East River, and these trips range from the family-friendly trip to the late-night singles booze cruise. Another July 4th classic activity in NYC is the annual Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island, Brooklyn. Take the subway to the beach and watch surprisingly skinny contestants gorge themselves on Nathan's famous franks - there are both men's and women's competitions. And if you want to take in some music over July 4th weekend, a free rock concert is usually held in Battery Park, down at the tip of Manhattan. Bands vary from year to year.