Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest July 4 at Nathan’s Famous. Nathans site says it at 12 and the Visitor and Convention Bureau says 3pm. More sites say it is at 12. Check ESPN which will cover it on a tape delay. It is online at http://espn.go.com/watchespn/index/_/source/espn3/ Having never tried it, check if registration is needed. What does it say about America that among our most cherished Fourth of July traditions is a contest to see who can consume the greatest number of hot dogs in 10 minutes? What does it mean that adults have dedicated themselves to devising new strategies, stretching their stomachs and training—really training—to the point where they can eat more than 60? Cynical folks might say it proves we’re gluttonous or frivolous, but we prefer to think it shows we have perfected the art of fun and don’t take ourselves too seriously. If you’re with us, we’ll see you at Coney Island! For more info, visit nathansfamous.com
Best fireworks viewing: 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.
Pier 84: 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 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; visit ticketmaster.com
Fort Wadsworth: 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. 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. visit circleline42.com
Brooklyn Shores: 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
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