Cultural Experience | New York City

Four Things To Do This Fourth of July… in NYC!

 On Becoming a Full Fledged New Yorker over the 4th of July.

By Jessica Smith, College of William and Mary

Living the unpaid intern life, a year after exploring the Mediterranean (a word I still can’t spell on my own), I find myself in yet another unknown world: New York City. The Big Apple, concrete jungle, you name it – I’m still completely lost at all times, speed walking with tunnel vision to and from Penn Station. I’ve spent the last three weeks with a friend from school, who lives in Summit, NJ (another one of my new philosophies post-study abroad – exhaust all available resources), and while I’ve spent $0 on rent so far this summer, I haven’t experienced The City for what it’s worth. This week, I move into NYC officially (still with friends, still $0), and my first full day as a full-fledged New Yorker will be the big 4th of July. Independence Day. Not really the day we became a nation? Alright, beyond the technicalities, I’ve spent countless hours Googling and Pinteresting up a storm of ideas for my first holiday (and so American!) in the 212; here’s my top 4 for this 4th.

macys fireworks 4th of july image

photo courtesy

1. Macy’s Fireworks: It’s safe to say this is the spectacle of the night, with this ranking high on every Internet search. As for a timeline, the fireworks should be starting around 9PM, lasting around 30 minutes, with great seats in Hoboken and between 24th and 42nd. Also safe to say that if you want that great seat, you better snag it by 5PM. Picnic, anyone? In addition to a stunning lights show, Macy’s also has a stellar Top 40 lineup of live performances, perfect for every 14 year-old at heart (that’s me, no shame) – Selena Gomez, Taylor Swift, Mariah Carey, and Tim McGraw. Macy’s might have a monopoly on the night, but I’m not complaining. Sure beats my usual cookout at home.


2. Speaking of cookouts, The Fourth brings us a menu of the absolute, all-American bests. You know what I’m talking about. FOOD. This summer though, I’m already craving a GovBall discovery, Asiadog. While fusing some not-so-American tastes (Hello, kimchi!), their Korean BBQ style Bulgogi burger can become my new red, white, and blue delight, reminding us all of the melting pot that is the US of A. For hot dogs, try out the Wangding, if not for its name alone. And for a more typical American hamburger, I’m dying to try Bareburger’s Western burger, topped with bacon and Carolina slaw. Nom on.


3. To combat the inevitable food baby (or at least to make yourself feel better about the day’s food and beverage consumption), NYCRUNS is hosting The Firecracker 5K and 10K on Roosevelt Island. 5K starts at 8:30AM, 10K at 9:00AM; all participants who have registered by June 30th will receive an awesome beer mug (because who needs another lousy 5K t-shirt?), which is definitely encouraged for use throughout the day. You can still register now; just expect the mug later this summer.


4. And while we live in a time marked by capitalism, the evolving notion of the American Dream, and moneymoneymoney (a la The Apprentice opening song) in general, there’s still something about the F word. Free. In addition to the free fireworks, head over to Coney Island to witness history – or at least the Annual Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest. And there’s nothing like grabbing your own snacks from the kitchen and heading out to Central Park to people-watch on this most glorious day. Find a friend with a roof deck or balcony and turn up the music (may I suggest this playlist? ) or mooch off the friend who has the Netflix account to watch American Horror Story (okay, not quite patriotic, but so. good.).


Whatever you decide to do, don’t forget the most important F word of them all. Fun. Corny?  Yes. But really, The Fourth is for celebrating, eating more than you should, hanging out with friends, and remembering that we get to do this every day.

Jessica Smith

College of William & Mary | 7 stories

Jessica is a rising senior at the College of William & Mary (Williamsburg, VA), studying English and Film Studies. In addition to writing for The College Tourist, she is interning in NYC for Rent The Runway. In 2012, she studied abroad with Semester at Sea, traveling to eight, different countries along the Mediterranean on the MV Explorer. Her favorites include iced coffee, live music, all forms of social media, and Mexican food.

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