At 9pm on Independence Day, the Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks will shower the sky over the Hudson River with the most spectacular pyrotechnics show in the nation. Among the best places to watch is the large section of the West Side Highway that will be closed for block party–style viewing. If you're looking for other viewing areas that might be a little less crowded (or offer some additional draws), here are a few options. Whichever location you choose, be sure to arrive early.
All Hudson River Park piers will be closed on July 4 with the exception of Pier 84 (at West 44th Street), a vast expanse with unobstructed views of the river. However, tickets must be purchased to enjoy the show from here. (It's $200 for adults and children over 13, $100 for children ages 6 to 12 and free for children 5 and under.) Included in the price, aside from a front-row view of the fireworks, is four hours of entertainment, music, food and beverages; the funds go toward supporting the park's programs and operations. For more information, visit hudsonriverparkfireworks.org.
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
One pier over, at the Intrepid, snag a prime viewing spot with VIP seating. Aside from watching the world-famous fireworks, you can tour the Intrepid's hangar deck, watch a broadcast of the concert (featuring Katy Perry and Kenny Chesney) and mingle under the Concorde. It costs $160 a pop, but perks include free food and, yes, access to a bathroom. For more information, visit intrepidmuseum.org.
Trump Place, Riverside Park South and Riverside Park
Behind the elevated West Side Highway is the best hill for watching fireworks on the west side. It rises from Riverside Park South to Trump Place, a complex of 16 apartment buildings and condominiums that sit on a ridge overlooking the river. The steep, sloping hills of the park's upper promenade and the riverfront esplanade only add appeal to the sparkling cascades of red, white and blue. Further up north at 72nd Street, the scenic Riverside Park also provides an impressive view of the waterfront and is regarded as a tranquil landscape for watching the show. For more information on Trump Place, visit trump.com; for more information on Riverside Park South, visit nyc.gov/parks; for more information on Riverside Park, visit nyc.gov/parks.
Staten Island Yankees Game
Forget apple pie—it doesn't get more American than baseball and fireworks. Watch the Yankees' Staten Island farm team play against the Jamestown Jammers, the short-season A affiliate of the Miami Marlins, at Richmond County Bank Ballpark. The stadium sits feet away from New York Harbor, so fans can watch the fireworks from their seats. A short walk away, at the St. George Terminal of the Staten Island Ferry, a newly renovated outdoor promenade also provides fantastic views of the skyline show. Tickets vary in price; for more information, visit ticketmaster.com.
For more Revolutionary flavor, view the fireworks from behind a castle-like fortress. Conveniently located at the entrance to New York Harbor, Fort Wadsworth offers panoramic views of the Independence Day show from a historic Staten Island setting. Bring your own lawn chairs and blankets, and head to the Bay Street and School Road entrance for the best view. The Fort played a role in the Revolutionary War—it was actually captured by the British—and was used by the American military until 1995. These days, it's run by the National Park Service. For more information, visit nyharborparks.org.
Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
On a Circle Line cruise, you can enjoy the fireworks with cold drinks, warm food and some distance from the sweaty crowds. In addition to running a Fourth of July jaunt, Circle Line is set to host a July 4th Pier Party complete with a live DJ set, carnival games, a ticket for a future Circle Line cruise and, of course, an up-close view of the fireworks. The exclusive pier party begins at 4pm and ends around 11pm. Tickets are $89. For more information, visit circleline42.com.
Brooklynites who might feel slighted at the lack of shells launching (on their side of the river) in the East River sky can take solace in such North Brooklyn parks as East River State Park, Grand Ferry Park and Transmitter Park, which offer clear views of the fireworks. Though you may have to stretch your neck over the railing or stand on your tiptoes to peek up the river, the 69th Street Pier in Bay Ridge is another great spot to watch the patriotic pyrotechnics. This South Brooklyn pier tends to get crowded fairly quickly—so be prepared to stand, as benches are scarce.
For more information on where to view the fireworks, visit macys.com.