Day 3 – 4th July! – Coney Island – Macy’s 4th July Fireworks

July 4th, 2022

Happy Independence Day! The day we had waited to celebrate in one of our favorite cities in the world was finally here! This trip and this day had been planned for several years and had suffered several cancellations, mainly due to the dreaded Covid! But finally, the day dawned and we were in New York on the 4th of July!

4th July Macy's Fireworks

Coney Island

We woke up still relatively early to head over to Coney Island for 9 am. We got to the Subway just after 8 am and arrived approx 40 mins later. We had been warned by locals and tourists alike that going to Coney Island on 4th July might not be the best idea due to the crowds. Coney island on the 4th of July though had been a bucket list activity for Steve so we decided to get there early as we had to be back in Manhattan for the Fireworks later anyway. When we arrived, many shops and attractions were still closed.

The beach was already full of people enjoying the strong sun, even at 9 am. There was also a steady stream of people heading over to Nathan’s Hot Dogs, queuing for the hot dog contest at 12 pm. Nathans Hot dogs and the contest is so famous, the contest is aired on ESPN3 live each 4th of July.

This was not going to be part of our data as we just didn’t have the time to sit down at watch an empty stage for 3 hours.

Luna Park

Most attractions and rides including Luna park were not opening until 10 am so we took the chance to wander down to the Pier, particularly while it was still quite quiet. Photos op’s done, we made our way over to Luna Park to get our wristbands, admission is included in the GoCity Pass. Luna park is divided into different sections along the seafront and is free to wander in and out. Wristbands must be shown to get onto the rides and not all rides are included in the admission from the PASS. Between the 2 of us, we sampled a few of the major rides in the park.

The PArk was super quiet at this time of the morning and every ride was a walk-on, in fact, for most rides, we would be the only riders, and on some, we even had to wait on the ride for more people to join!

Luna Park is a historic Beachfront Amusement Arcade, it’s not a modern and fancy themepark with all the latest rides but in some ways, this makes it all the more thrilling. On modern rides, you always feel pretty safe, but in these rusty, ancient, sea corroded rides that sense of security is somewhat lost!

Annoyingly the main attraction, the Cyclone is not included on the Go City Wrist band, so we had to pay extra to ride this iconic historic ride. But almost all the others were included, we rode the Soarin’ Eagle, which was rough as anything, the terrifying Zenobia. The really quite tame Astro Tower, which offered great views of new york but the drops were too tame. We roe the Atlantic aviator the Tickler and Electro Spin.

We also wanted to ride Deno’s Wonder Wheel, the inspiration for the horrifying Pixar-Pal-A-Round at Disneyland but this is a separate park. The wristband allowed us to come and go as we pleased throughout the morning. It was great being on the pass as otherwise, we think the $69.95 cost of the wristbands, is a little over the top!

We Talk about the Go City Explorer pass in yesterday’s post, and do a summation of how much we saved, or check out the full review here.

Nathans World Famous Hot Dogs

It was just after 11 am when our still jet-lagged tummies were getting hungry. There was only one place we were heading for lunch: Nathans! With their main shop on Surf and Stillwell Avenue busy with the contest, their other location on the seafront seemed the best option. The queues were already forming with little space to eat outside so we joined the queue. We ordered a ‘dog’ each with a side of ‘dirty’ fries and 2x VERY LARGE sodas for the heat! Being World famous, Nathan’s was obviously very popular and the seating area is small but we managed to find somewhere to sit and eat our food before moving on with our drinks to allow others to sit down.

We have to say, these are more famous for being famous than for being great hot dogs. They are fine, but that is about the best we can say. Some things you just HAVE to do though!

We wandered down the seafront some more and Steve went on a few more of the rides. At this point, it was VEY HOT and getting very busy so we decided to head back to the hotel just after 1 pm so we had time to chill and get ready for the fireworks. As we entered the Subway station to make our way back to Manhattan there were THOUSANDS of people heading out into Coney Island. We were literally the only people walking the opposite way. To the point a police officer stopped us saying we were going the wrong way, he was pretty surprised when we said “no we want to leave!”

We made a good choice to visit early, while we would have loved to have stayed and spent the day by the beach, we had other Priorities!

Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks

Apart from a visit to Coney Island, there was really only 1 thing to do on the 4th of July in NYC: watch Macy’s Firework Display! Macy’s fireworks are ALMOST as famous as its Thanksgiving Parade. Each year, fireworks are launched from 5 barges blazed with Macy’s signage on the East River, the Manhattan skyline providing the perfect backdrop to the patriotic celebration in lights. The Fireworks show is free entry with Macy’s organizing several viewing location points. There are, of course, many other viewpoints for the fireworks across the city. Steve had done his homework and chosen Long Island Pier as our viewpoint, with midtown directly across the river and downtown to our left.

We arrived at our viewpoint just after 4:30 pm. Despite there being 5 hours until the scheduled start of the show at 9:25 pm, there were plenty of people heading to the pair. Roads were closed off by police for crowd safety and the Pier was working on a free but limited wristband entry only. The wristbands are free but the Pier closes at 6 pm, no re-entry is allowed but has Portable Restrooms available within the cut-off area. With drinks, snacks, and A LOT of photography equipment, we found a spot near the end of the Pier.

We were by no means the earliest people there, many people had cool boxes, chairs, blankets, etc and had been in the for the long haul! Traveling on a plane to New York meant we didn’t have these comforts available to us but we did our best with the drinks and snacks we had. And so we waited. The sun slowly began to go down (and cool down!) and as sunset approached we could see the barges getting into position with the NYPD assisting with a helicopter fly past. The coastguard also provided a water show to keep us entertained during sunset.

As time went on, a large group of photographers with fancy camera gear started talking to Steve and graciously let him place his camera alongside theirs in a prime spot (very kind considering they had been defending their spot since 10 am that day!) With me armed with the Go Pro for video footage we were primed and ready as 9:25 inched closer.

The fireworks show did not disappoint and was worth that wait (the literal 5 hours as well as the 2-year pandemic delay LOL)! Sometimes in life, you reach moments that you have been dreaming about for such a long time, that they could never be as good as you imagine. But finally standing on the edge of that Pier was as amazing as we could have wanted!

Once the show was over it was time to leave and the Police were pretty instant of everyone clearing out of the area quickly. So we, along with probably thousands of other people began our walk back to the Subway. This was not a highlight of the evening. It was crowded and slow-moving. When we finally reached the Subway station it was queued out of the entrance and at a standstill.

4th July Macy's Fireworks

I said to Steve that we needed to keep moving and walk to the next station. He was dubious that the next station would be any better but standing in that mass of people seemed futile either way. We continued walking to the next Subway station and to our utter shock, walked straight in, onto the platform, and even got seats on the train!! It was nearing 11 pm at this point and we could not believe all those other people were still queuing at the other station, nor could imagine how long they would be standing there!

Tired but happy, we walked from our Subway stop back to our hotel via a 99Cent Pizza Shop for a much-needed late-night snack! Once we got back to our hotel, we hungrily munched our way through the Pizza while in bed, looking at photos we took of the Fireworks. (And people assume traveling is all glamour LOL). Our heads hit the pillow at midnight, needing as much sleep as we could get before our early departure to Washington D.C.

99cent Pizza

Walking Total – 18,602 Steps – 9.8 Miles

A crazy day with an awful lot of walking. It felt a lot worse, as the 5+ Hours we had spent on the burning hot pier, we were stood, so our feet had that painful burning ache you get at theme parks from standing in queues. We were also still recovering from yesterday’s near Marathon!

Live Blog – Trip Report

<<< Day 2 – 9/11 Museum, The Highline, Hudson River Cruise, Top of the Rock, Central Park at Sunset

Day 4 – Train to Washington DC >>>

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