A picture of 4th of July fireworks and the NYC skyline
4th of July fireworks in New York City
In our first part of this blog series about Independence Day we presented some of our favorite activities to celebrate the 4th of July 2012 in New York City during the day. In this second part of the series, we will talk about one nightly event only. Namely, if you’re in NYC on the evening of the 4th of July, you simply cannot miss Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacle! Macy’s boasts the largest fireworks display in America, with over 40,000 fireworks exploding across the sky over the Hudson River for almost half an hour. To enjoy the fireworks display to the fullest in NYC, you have to know the best places to watch! So that’s why we’ve assembled a list of the top locations to watch Macy’s Fireworks on the 4th of July, 2012.

Macy’s Annual 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular

Map of top locations to watch Macy’s Fireworks Show in NYC
A map of the top locations to watch Macy’s Fireworks Spectacle on July 4th 2012 in NYC. The fireworks barges are shown in yellow
Ever since 1976, Macy’s has sponsored New York City’s annual 4th of July Fireworks. This year’s theme of the spectacle is Ignite the Night and the fireworks will kick off at approximately 9 pm. If you want to be sure to get a good spot, however, you’ll have to arrive a lot earlier. The fireworks are set off from four barges on the Hudson River roughly between 18th Street and 59th Street. This means that the best places to watch the fireworks will be the west side of Midtown Manhattan or the east side of New Jersey. In Manhattan, New Yorkers start claiming viewing spots early in the morning on the 4th of July. But less-frequented spots will still be relatively quiet in the early evening. Regardless of the location you choose, try to get there by the end of the afternoon to avoid disappointment.

Where Not to Watch the Fireworks

Manhattan has several great options to watch Macy’s Fireworks, but first we’ll talk about what locations not to go to. Manhattan’s piers seem like the perfect place to watch the events on the Hudson River, but be warned: all Hudson River piers will be closed off, with the exception of Pier 84 (this pier has limited access and will undoubtedly fill up quickly). The Hudson River Park promenade will also be closed off, so forget about watching the fireworks from the Hudson River Greenway or parks. The only exception is Dewitt Clinton Park, which will be reserved for people with disabilities.

Best Spots in Manhattan to Watch the Fireworks

An image of a crowd waiting for the 4th of July fireworks show in NYC
People gather on West 42nd Street & 12 Avenue to watch the 4th of July fireworks in NYC
That said, one of the easiest accessible, most popular and free spots to watch the fireworks is 12th Avenue (West Side Highway). The highway will be closed to traffic starting 2 pm between 22nd street and 59th street [see pin 1 on the map], which means there will be plenty of space for people to get a good view of the fireworks. Nonetheless, since this is one of the more popular spots it tends to get crowded quickly during the afternoon, so be sure to get there well in advance! You can access the highway from a number of access points along 11th Avenue, namely on 24-26 Streets, 27-29 Streets, 33-34 Streets, 40-42 Streets, 44-50 Streets, 52-54 Streets and 56-57 Streets. To get there by subway, take the A, C or E train to any station between 23rd Street and 59 Street. These stations along 8th Avenue are as far west as you can get by taking the subway in Manhattan, so you’ll have to walk another four blocks west to 12th Avenue.

There are also several paid options to consider if you don’t want to show up early to ensure a good spot. The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum offers amazing views from Pier 86, with tickets starting at $160 (seats and food included). There are also numerous boat cruises that offer 4th of July specials for prices starting around $100 per person. Another great way to watch the fireworks is to find a high-rise building in Manhattan with a direct view of the Hudson River. There are some rooftop parties which offer exactly this, but party tickets can get quite expensive.

To avoid the crowds altogether you can also choose to celebrate the 4th of July from the comfort of your own home away from home. We have a loft studio in Midtown West with a view of the Hudson River available for the whole month of July! The alcove studio sleeps two and is located on the 11th floor of a prewar building on 37th Street & 10th Avenue. The building has a spectacular rooftop terrace, but to see the fireworks you won’t even have to leave the apartment as the windows offer a direct view of the Hudson River!

Best Spots in New Jersey to Watch the Fireworks

Fireworks light up the sky above Manhattan, NYC in this picture taken from New Jersey
The view from New Jersey on the 4th of July: spectacular fireworks ignite the skies above Manhattan, NYC
If you want to watch the fireworks and have the Manhattan skyline as backdrop, a PATH train or bus journey to New Jersey may well be worth the trip. There are several locations in the state New Jersey across the river that offer excellent views of Macy’s Fireworks. Weehawken Waterfront Park [see pin 2 on the map] puts you almost directly across from the firework barges. Right next to Weehawken Waterfront Park is Hamilton Park [see pin 3 on the map], which lies on a cliff so you’ll have a panoramic view of Manhattan and the fireworks. You can easily get to Weehawken by taking a bus from the Port Authority Bus Terminal or by catching a ferry.

Another option to watch the fireworks is Maxwell Place Park in Hoboken [see pin 4 on the map], which is a very scenic walk (about a mile) away from Hoboken’s PATH station, which can be easily reached from several stations throughout Manhattan. For more information about getting to New Jersey, check New Jersey Transit or the NY and NJ Port Authority. There are also numerous ferries running from Manhattan to New Jersey, but on the 4th of July there might be limited service so be sure to check the schedules well in advance.

If for some reason you cannot make it to any of these viewing spots, you still don’t have to miss the show. You can tune in to NBC between 9 pm and 10 pm to watch Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular with performances by Katy Perry and Kenny Chesney on TV. You can also listen to the show and musical accompaniment of the fireworks live by tuning in to the radio stations Fresh 102.7 and 1010 Wins. For more details concerning the show, performances and viewing info, download the official Macy’s Fireworks App. Whatever viewing option you choose, you can be sure celebrating the 4th of July in New York City will be a night to remember!

Where will you be watching Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks?