My boyfriend's birthday is over July 4th weekend. I am looking for ideas of things to do or places to go to in NYC to celebrate that will make his birthday memorable. I want to stear clear of the traditional ways to celebrate - going out to dinner or getting together and going to a bar/club. Any help is appreciated!

Heather, Hoboken, NJ

The Fourth of July is all about the fireworks. If you feel like fighting the crowds, The Macy's Fireworks are happening on the 4th (details haven't been released yet). We learned last year, though, that you don't actually have to be sitting along the FDR drive to see them; some Manhattan rooftops offer a great view (or, alternately, one part of the Ask staff saw the fireworks from Jersey City last year... you may not even have to leave the safe confines of Hoboken!).

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You could pop over to Coney Island for the annual hot dog eating contest and see if reigning champion Takeru "Tsunami" Kobayashi wins three years in a row. While there, you can go to the Astroland amusement park, where 4th of July festivities are planned for the whole weekend.

Other things to do in July:
-Shakespeare in the Park. This year's production is Much Ado About Nothing starring Kristen Johnston, Jimmy Smits, and Sam Waterston(!). Tickets are free, and you wait in line the morning of the show at the box office. (We suggest getting there early if you go on a weekend.)
-Also in Central Park, and also free, SummerStage presents the New York Pops doing a show called Hooray for Hollywood at 3pm on July 3rd. The Pops will perform music from movies.
-If you're in the mood for Latin music, check out Celebrate Brooklyn! On July 3rd, Bacilos, Cabas, and Radio Mundial are performing in Prospect Park as part of the Latin music series.

More events will likely be advertized as the weekend gets closer. Good luck and have fun!