Free and For Cheap on the 4th: Where to Be and What to Do on a Budget 🇺🇸🌭🎆

It's July 4th again, and that means the people (and tourists) of New York will be out and about doing all things American. 

Most of these activities come with a price tag, and some are pretty hefty.

If this is not your cup of tea - or should I say tea party - then don’t worry. The city has plenty of things to do that won’t leave you feeling like the tax collector just paid a visit.


What would this great nation be without the people who got it to where it is? You can learn about New York’s history as an American city in a variety of walking tours and museum exhibits all across the city.

Live American Revolutionary history with the “Revolutionary New York” tour with Big Onion Walking Tours. This tour is only available on select days throughout the year, so July 4th is a great opportunity to see it. The outlook is best for students on this one – at $15, they get a $10 discount from the standard ticket price.

If you have a history itch to scratch but no money to scratch it with, you can check out any number of New York’s free walking tours for a look at one part of the history’s city. For example, learn about the city’s contributions to American art and pop culture in the 60s with the Greenwich Village tour of “Beats, Bohemians, and Icons.”

Hot Dog Eating Contest


Maybe history just isn’t for you, but incomprehensible feats of steely stomachs are. 

If so, you should probably stop by the annual Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest. Will Joey Chestnut retain his dominance, or will a new champion be crowned? 

Go to Nathan’s Famous at Coney Island to find out – the party starts at 10, with competitions kicking off at 11 AM Admission is free, and the hot dogs are plentiful.

Update: This year's women champion is Miki Ludo,  eating 37 hot dogs in 10 minutes 

NYC Parks


Independence Day is a great day for getting outside and enjoying the outdoors. Take advantage of the day off by making grabbing a blanket and some friends and heading to any one of New York’s beautiful parks.

Central Park’s meadows are perfect for this – lie in the sun, have a light lunch, and bring along a Frisbee, football or soccer ball and get moving. The best part about this – apart from the food you bring, it’s totally free!


If the sun is a little too hot for you, you could also take advantage of NYC Parks’ extensive selection of public pools. Whether you head to Astoria, John Jay, or McCarren Park, you can be sure to stay cool on America’s birthday.

Apple Pie


What’s more American than it?

We recommend hitting up Pies ‘n’ Thighs in Brooklyn, just north of Prospect Park, for a slice for $4.50 – with vanilla ice cream available, of course.

If that’s not enough, they are just as well known for their fried chicken, another Independence Day classic. As if that wasn’t enough, Pies ‘n’ Thighs is located down the street from the brand new Domino Park, where you can catch great views of the East River fireworks.


New York has plenty of coastlines, making it easy to find a place to watch the fireworks over the East River.

Macy’s recommends viewing their show on the east coast of Manhattan between Houston St and 48th St. The show starts at 9:25 PM, and may not have the amenities of a rooftop or a cruise – but hey, it’s free.

If you’re looking for something to do during the show, consider the LIC Flea & Food Market; admission is free, with food and drinks available to purchase from vendors.

If you RSVP to the event, you are entered to win Flea Bucks that can be spent at the market – an extra chance to save!



If a high rise view is calling your name on the Fourth, don’t fret about the cost associated with most rooftop parties - Sky Room in Times Square is offering free admission to those who RSVP and arrive by 6 PM.

You must be 21 and older to attend. Recent grads - take to the skies to celebrate your independence from the British Empire and educational institutions in style.

Be sure to check out our article, Party Like it’s 1776, for more 4th of July tips, and be sure to experience New York to its fullest!

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