The highway will be closed to traffic between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m., and it’s recommended that you arrive early to secure a spot. The uptown show is best viewed from between Houston Street and 42nd Street (with entrances at Houston, 23rd, 34th, 38th, and 42nd streets). See the downtown show between the ferry terminal and the Pearl Street exit ramp (where the only entrance is), or from the South Street Seaport.
Brooklyn Heights Promenade
Optimal viewing is south of the Brooklyn Bridge on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade between Joralemon Street and Cranberry Street, and along Furman Street from Atlantic Avenue to Cadman Plaza West.
Gantry Plaza State Park
50-50 2nd St., nr. 51st Ave., Long Island City; 718-786-6385
Even with four piers to watch from, this park—located directly across the East River from the U.N.—still gets packed on the Fourth. Early birds can grab a seat on one of the wooden chaise longues; otherwise, be prepared to be on your feet.
Liberty State Park
Morris Pesin Dr., nr Freedom Way, Jersey City, N.J.; 201-915-3440
A concert featuring the Persuaders, Amy Speace, and others starts at 3 p.m. and ends just before the fireworks go off.
Southpoint Park., Rd. 3 nr. East Rd.; 888-695-0888
The gates to the park, located at the southern tip of the island, open at 5 p.m., and before the fireworks, there’s carnival-type entertainment (stilt-walkers, face-painters, balloon artists), live music, and food from Dinosaur Bar-B-Que.
Harry’s Water Taxi Beach
2-03 Borden Ave., at 2nd St., Long Island City; 212-742-1969
The beach opens at noon, and VIP passes buy you an open bar until 10 p.m., plus a buffet including roasted meats, a whole pig, and barbecued seafood. Resident D.J. Victor Franco spins for everyone, all day long.
Cost: $25; $200 for VIP admission
Rooftop Films: Un-American Films
Solar One, 23rd St. at the East River; 718-417-7362
From 5 p.m. until the fireworks, there’s an open bar and live music by Titus Andronicus, Frances, and Aleks and the Drummer. Then, at 9:30, Rooftop Films screens eight provocative short films. Take note, though: You must arrive by 6 p.m., owing to NYPD restrictions.
168 Delancey St., nr. Clinton St.; 212-254-9920
The rooftop bar here is covering all its bases for a complete Fourth of July. From 5 p.m. to 4 a.m., there will be guest D.J.’s, drink specials, and, of course, views of the fireworks from a prime Lower East Side location. Call ahead to make a reservation.
251 W. 48th St., nr. Eighth Ave.; 212-956-1300
This new rooftop bar is getting in on the Fourth of July action with an evening of burgers and cocktails, not to mention a sixteen-story-high panoramic view.
2 Water St., at Old Fulton St., Dumbo, Brooklyn; 718-858-3510
Dinner across the street at the River Café—where they’re offering a special, four-course menu—would be great, but they’re all booked for the Fourth. Pete’s Downtown is no consolation prize, though: For $65, there’s an all-you-can-eat Italian buffet between 6:30 p.m. and 10 p.m., with equally stunning East River views.
If You’re Staying Home…
Natalie Morales and Tiki Barber host the NBC telecast of the display, with performances by Kenny Chesney, Katharine McPhee, and Jordin Sparks. On the radio, 1010 WINS broadcasts the synchronized music program: “America Dances,” by the New York Pops.