Gone are the days of cheek by jowl revelry and fantastical firework viewing parties as you line up with strangers and loved ones alike along the riverfront.
But you can still get your oohs and ahhs this holiday weekend, either in the Big Apple or from afar — here’s how.
Macy’s 4th of July 2020 Fireworks
For the first time ever, Macy’s is putting on a nightly fireworks show in each borough, which began June 29, before a final burst of colorful pyrotechnics erupt on the 4th of July, this time from the Empire State Building. The smaller, unannounced fireworks displays were capped at five minutes long and the surprise factor was intended to keep residents from gathering.
John Legend, Black Eyed Peas, the Killers, Lady A, Tim McGraw and Brad Paisley will be performing throughout the special as we all fête America’s birthday from afar.
—Tune in Saturday to NBC from 8 to 10 p.m. EST/PST to watch the full week’s worth of illuminations. You can also stream the festivities on subscription platforms including Hulu+ Live TV, YouTubeTV, FuboTV and Sling TV. Free trials are available for all the services.
Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog-Eating Contest
The annual Coney Island 4th of July International Hot Dog-Eating Contest is closed to the public but you can still watch it on TV. The event will take place in an undisclosed location with coronavirus precautions in effect — such as capping each of the contests at five eaters as opposed to the standard 15 to allow for social distancing. How much they scarf down will not be limited, however, and good luck trying not to barf vicariously.
—The telecast starts at noon EST Saturday on ESPN.
In person events
Reopening of the 9/11 Memorial
The National September 11 Memorial & Museum, which honors the lives lost in the terrorist attacks, has been shuttered since mid-March. The site is a powerful reminder that this isn’t the first time New Yorkers have endured tough times.
On Independence Day, 9/11 family members, the larger 9/11 community and coronavirus front-line workers will be invited to visit the Memorial from 1 to 8 p.m. prior to it reopening to the public on Sunday. Face masks and maintaining social distancing will be required for visitors. The museum remains closed at this time, so visit 911Memorial.org/explore to take a virtual tour and learn more from home.
—180 Greenwich St. (enter near the corner of Greenwich and Vesey Streets); 212-312-8800. Open seven days a week starting Sunday, from 1 to 8 p.m.
Look, we yearn for our Jones Beach summer concert days just as much as the next guy, but until that glorious day comes, channel your nostalgia and cruise into a spot at this newly opened drive-in theater.
Perched on the East River, the views alone are enough to keep you giddy after many cooped up months. But, oh yeah, there’s a movie, too.
On the 4th of July, there will be two showings of “Jurassic Park.” Cars are capped at seven guests and the first showtime is at 9:30 p.m., which costs $100 a car, and gets you parking access as early as 7:30 p.m. to savor Manhattan’s twinkling vistas and fireworks atop the Empire State Building. The night owls can book for 12:30 a.m. at only $55 a car. Purchase tickets online.
You’ll be asked to wear a mask outside of your car and follow social-distancing protocols.
The theater has one screen, a food truck on the premises and bathrooms for guest use. Currently there’s only room for cars and motorcycles, although a seating area is on the horizon.
—1 Oak St., Greenpoint; 347-462-0353, SkylineDriveInNYC.com
Profundo luxury pool lounge at Ravel Hotel
A pool party may not be for everyone this 4th of July, but for those who feel comfortable, Ravel is partnering with Vestibular Diagnostics to provide private COVID-19 testing for all guests and staff. Reservations are required and before entering, you must test negative. Masks are mandatory and daybeds and tables have been set up with at least 6 feet of distance between them, with hand sanitizer stations galore throughout the property.
Now, forget about the pandemic for a while with some superb entertainment over the long weekend, including DJ duo Bedouin spinning Friday evening and a “Red, White and Luke” set with DJ Laidback Luke from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Chase the spirited fun with custom cocktails and eats from the hotel’s new restaurant Perivóli. Adjacent to Profundo, expect hits like grilled octopus and branzino in the garden or small plates and cocktails poolside.
Lest the Champagne get to your head, the disposable menus with QR codes for safe and reduced-contact service will surely jolt you back to the present moment, but hey, you’re on a roof that isn’t your home — your March 2020 self would be kvelling.
—8-08 Queens Plaza South, Long Island City; 718-289-6118, RavelHotel.com/profundo
Gitano Garden of Love Summer Pop-Up
If you can’t go to Tulum, Mexico, bring the Yucatan vibes to NYC. In a 24,000-square-foot outdoor restaurant and mezcal bar, land in another world as you eat chichi fare and sip cocktails with loved ones for the first time in lord knows how long.
Make your reservation in advance and rest assured knowing the spacious situation here is likely better than your local park crowds: Tables are set up 6 feet apart and there’s no-contact ordering to keep you safe while still having fun on the wood pergola dining decks enshrouded by 25-foot coconut palms. As you catch a moment of zen by the reflecting pond and meditation area, you may almost forget you’re still sporting a mask. Almost.
—76 Varick St.; 917-860-6082, GrupoGitano.com/nyc
Classic Harbor Line
If you’re still getting used to the idea of outdoor dining, this isn’t for you, but with 50% capacity on all boats and a face mask edict, some might feel comfortable with the idea of hitting the waters to salute the holiday.
For the 4th of July, the cruise line is dispatching four of their turn-of-the-century style yachts for fireworks viewing and fun. Tickets cost $125 and all excursions are 90 minutes. Aboard the Yacht Manhattan & Manhattan II, each duo or group is assigned a private table with cushioned seating and large openable windows and skylights, protected by Plexiglas dividers. Only personal bottled water is permitted onboard.
On the Schooner Adirondack & the Yacht Kingston, each party is assigned a private seating zone and outdoor bar service is available. Toasting a special occasion, or, you know, your canceled wedding? Have a sunset picnic on Pier 62 before departing.
—Pier 62 (West 22nd Street & the Hudson River); 212-627-1825, Sail-NYC.com
New-York Historical Society, July 4th @ Home
The oldest museum in New York City is marking our country’s birthday with a lineup of free family-friendly virtual events. Register on their Web site to get the Zoom link. Some offerings include a speech by Frederick Douglass delivered by historical interpreters, a deep dive into Jackie Robinson’s activism legacy with the Jackie Robinson Museum and a patriotic singalong.
—Tune in from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday (after registering for free online) at NYHistory.org.
Lincoln Center’s ‘Voices of a People’s History of the United States’
Lincoln Center “Voices of a People’s History” video premiereLincoln Center
Brush up on your high school history savvy with inspired spoken-word performances from 17 recently graduated seniors of Maxine Greene School for Imaginative Inquiry in NYC. During the broadcast, these AP US History students will present self-selected readings from Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove’s anthology, “Voices of a People’s History of the United States.” The texts will include the works of such luminaries as Martin Luther King Jr., Sojourner Truth, LGBTQ activist Vito Russo and undocumented youth advocate Gustavo Madrigal-Piña.
Students received year-round mentorship gearing up for this event. While the coronavirus may have derailed their original May show at the David Rubenstein Atrium, this online programming gives these students’ voices — and the torches of the greats they build upon — an even bigger reach.
—Tune in at 1 p.m. Saturday at LincolnCenter.org/Lincoln-Center-At-Home or Facebook.com/LincolnCenterNYC
South Street Seaport Afternoon of Sea Chanteys and Maritime Music
Sign up for South Street Seaport Museum’s monthly Sea Chanteys and Maritime Music from wherever you find yourself this socially distanced Sunday. During the free singalong, hosted by singers from the New York Packet, you can toast America as you listen in, request a song or pipe in with your own sea song.
The session will feature “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which was inspired by the large US flag above Fort McHenry during the US victory during the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812.
—Tune in from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at SouthStreetSeaportMuseum.org.
SLT Full Body 4th of July Kickoff Party
Twenty bucks gets you a 50-minute full-body streaming workout to help combat all that feasting you’ll be doing later. This sweat sesh from the popular NYC studio makes savvy use of equipment found at a standard barbecue (think: beer or soda cans as weights, paper plates as gliders and a beach towel). The event includes Independence Day-themed music and special giveaways.