July 4 is right around the corner, and we have some ideas on how to spend your free day in the city. Sure, there are the classic picks like fireworks and Coney Island, but we’ve chosen a few offbeat activities to consider before the Independence Day spectacle begins. Here are a few museums, parties, and picnics to enjoy on July 4 in New York City.
Visit Fraunces Tavern Museum
Fraunces Tavern is a 300-year-old institution that takes you all the way back to this country’s early history. Tour the Fraunces Tavern Museum this Independence Day, including the Long Room where General George Washington told his troops goodbye at the close of the Revolutionary War. A George Washington portrait gallery, a display of historical American flags, and an exhibition about Revolutionary double agents are now on view. While you’re around, you can also visit the Fraunces Tavern bar and restaurant and feast like our first President! 54 Pearl St., 212-425-1778, frauncestavernmuseum.org
July 4 Block Party with Empire Outlets
Entertainer Lenny Hoops performed at Empire Outlets over Memorial Day Weekend. Enjoy special holiday outdoor performances at Empire Outlets.
Empire Outlets, New York City’s first and only outlet mall, will light up July 4 weekend this year! Come to this waterfront destination on Staten Island for a three-day block party this Independence Day weekend. This event will coincide with the grand opening of Nordstrom Rack, the discount brand of the fine department store Nordstrom. Families can hop on the free Staten Island Ferry and enjoy food, music, and fireworks just a short walk from the St. George Ferry Terminal on Staten Island’s North Shore. The block party will begin at noon on Independence Day. During the day, visitors can indulge in food and drink from a wide range of vendors and a pop-up Beer Garden. Kids can enjoy playing with sidewalk chalk, making tie-dye crafts, getting face paint, and building large-scale sandcastles all day long. There will be live music by Spotlight Theatre Company and HitList, as well as DJs playing sets on the waterfront; fireworks will start around 9pm. 55 Richmond Terrace, empireoutlets.nyc
9/11 Memorial & Museum
Photo: Jin Lee
Beat the heat and see a New York treasure at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in Lower Manhattan. This essential destination reminds us of American unity, resilience, and bravery. See artifacts recovered from the September 11 terrorist attacks, including items from first responders, and the story of New York’s rebuilding efforts since 2001. 180 Greenwich St., 212-312-8800, 911memorial.org
Have a Picnic
Whether you’re in town on a visit or enjoying your day off work, July 4 is one of the greatest picnic days of the year. Take a spread to Sheep Meadow in Central Park, listen to jazz in Washington Square Park, or check out an under-the-radar park. As for provisions, you have plenty of options all over the city, but here’s a few specific places to buy food and drink for your patriotic picnic.
Eat Ribs at New York’s Best Barbecue Spots
July 4 food is (a) hot dogs and (b) barbecue. We’ll let Joey Chestnut take care of the hot dogs at Nathan’s hot dog eating contest, but as for barbecue, the field is wide open. From Brooklyn to Flatiron to Harlem to Brooklyn again, here are our 10 favorite barbecue spots in the city where you can chow down on some brisket for the holiday.
Salsa at Lincoln Center
Midsummer Night Swing is back for the summer! This July 4, you can fit in some salsa before the fireworks at Lincoln Center’s massive outdoor dance party. This Independence Day, “Rey del Bajo” Bobby Valentin Orchestra will be lighting up Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center with his signature salsa. If you’re shaky on your steps, there’s a free dance lesson included with the price of your ticket; it starts an hour before the performance. 60 Lincoln Center Plaza, 212-875-5456, lincolncenter.org
Party at Nowadays
You might know the venue Nowadays by its Mister Sunday dance party, a reliably rad summer tradition held in its large Brooklyn backyard. Expect a good time at Nowadays’ July 4th party as well, with music by Butter of Bed-Stuy’s Mixtape Shop and some surprise special guests. This free event lasts from noon to 10pm. 56-06 Cooper Ave., 347-523-8535, nowadays.nyc
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
Celebrate American ingenuity at the science and engineering museum aboard the USS Intrepid. This aircraft carrier-turned-museum is currently featuring a mixed-VR exhibit about the first black American woman in space, the carrier’s service during the Vietnam War, and the actual submarine onboard, the Cold War-era USS Growler. The museum is open and welcome to families during the day on July 4! Pier 86: W. 46 St. & 12th Ave., 877-957-SHIP, intrepidmuseum.org