A Unique Way to Celebrate Independence Day in New York City

As much as I always look forward to the festivities and celebrations surrounding Independence Day in America, this year, the holiday snuck up on me and I totally forgot to make plans. With many of our friends spending the long weekend outside the city, Andy and I couldn't figure out what to do. Tickets to parties at nearby hotels and restaurants were either too expensive or sold out. The friends who hosted last year's rooftop party no longer live in that building. I wanted to see the fireworks above the East River, but I didn't really like the idea of elbowing my way through the crowds at Brooklyn Bridge Park to view them.

I thought about the location of the barges (colorful stars below) and the bridges spanning the East River. They would be closed to pedestrian traffic, but, what about vehicular traffic? It would be too hard to time it just right from the car. The subway trains, however, regularly cross both the Manhattan Bridge and Williamsburg Bridge and would put us within prime fireworks viewing distance.

We boarded a Q train from Atlantic just minutes before the fireworks were to set to go off. As our train crossed the Manhattan Bridge, we were disappointed to discover we were too early. At Canal Street, we raced upstairs and caught arriving J Train towards Williamsburg. As we crossed the Williamsburg Bridge we saw the bulk of the event (Periscoped and sped up in my video below). The view was somewhat obstructed by buildings and bridge pylons (especially for filming) but the overall experience made the trip worthwhile. It was really cool to see the celebrations from a different perspective.

Based on our experience, there are a few things I would do differently next year. First, I'd plan the route beforehand and figure out which subway stops offer free transfers (Marcy Ave. did not). Next, I'd designate someone to make a patriotic tunes playlist because the quiet train wasn't doing the spectacle justice. Last, I'd invite more friends and meet at a bar near the first stop few hours beforehand to kick off the celebration. 

What's your favorite 4th of July memory?

The post A Unique Way to Celebrate Independence Day in New York City first appeared on One Carry-On.

Marie Frei

One Carry-On is a blog managed by Marie Frei, a travel expert and photographer with a passion for exploring off the beaten path locations. The blog covers honest and personal stories about living and traveling as an American abroad, shares her global appreciation for culture and design, and promotes traveling to far-flung destinations with a carry-on as fun, affordable, and easy.