With Memorial Day now behind us, we can forget about the most popular places to travel for that holiday weekend to focus on the next big event of the summer: Fourth of July. Cheapflights.com has selected its top 10 places to watch celebratory fireworks for Independence Day, and we're sharing them with you.
1. Washington D.C.
Thomas Jefferson hosted the first official Fourth of July celebration on the lawn of his mansion more than 200 years ago, and now fireworks soar over the D.C. skyline each year as the National Symphony commemorates our independence. Fireworks begin at 9 p.m.
More than 200,000 people take to the shores of the Charles River every Fourth of July in the city that rocked the American Revolution and threw the wildest tea parties in the country. Boston Harborfest kicks off at the end of June and continues until the Fourth, celebrating the city’s colonial and maritime heritage. Most events are free, and the Boston Pops plays a special evening of new songs and Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture while fireworks ascend above the Charles.
3. San Francisco
There are a few options if you’re in the Bay Area for the Fourth. The best in show (depending on your preference) goes to the fun at Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf. Local bands play and other live performances start at 1 p.m., and fireworks begin at 9:30. For a prime viewing locale, sign up in advance to take an Alcatraz Cruise in the dark.
4. San Diego
There’s nothing like summer in SoCal – and San Diego is the beach town that celebrates the Fourth in pure sunbathing style. Carnivals, ferris wheels, parades and county fairs spring into action days before the event, and on July 3, firework fanatics camp out on the sand all the way from Mission Beach to Pacific Beach to hold superior viewing real estate. The Big Bay Celebration starts at 9 p.m. as lights skyrocket from the Harbor and Shelter Islands.
5. Cape Cod, Nantucket, and Martha’s Vineyard
These islands showcase New England tradition at its finest. Lighthouses, sand, parades and picnics welcome tourists and locals alike to celebrate the Fourth in style. Check out the annual barbecue at the Old Whaling Church on Martha’s Vineyard for a taste of New England-style cooking. For more nautical events, attend the Hyannis Boat Parade or Nantucket’s Independence Day Celebration on Jetties Beach to see boats and yachts get all dressed up for the occasion. Between all three islands, the best spot for firework-gazing is to hop on a cruise from Woods Hole to the Vineyard Sound for $40.
Technically the birthplace of our country, Philadelphia does not disappoint when it comes to Fourth of July celebrations. Festivities last the entire week leading up to the Fourth, and events like concerts and movies fill the calendar. Fireworks start around 10:30 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, but the best views can be seen from Lemon Hill, Boathouse Road and Kelly Drive. This year, the Goo Goo Dolls will play a concert at 8:30 p.m. leading into the display.
Chi-town has a reputation for doing things right, and it does it again with the Fourth of July. While the Navy Pier has fireworks shows throughout the entirety of the summer, the ones on the Fourth are blatantly worthy of more attention. Take a dinner cruise before the show, or head outdoors to catch them from the shores of Lake Michigan while the symphony plays outside.
8. U.S. Virgin Islands
This archipelago might not be the first place you think of when you recall true blue American pastimes, but it gives a fantastic twist to the summer holiday. St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John are the only U.S.-owned islands in the Caribbean, and usually celebrate with more coconut rum than they do beer. Visit St. John for the biggest parties, both on July 3 (Emancipation Day) and July 4, when marching bands, parades and dancing troupes happily infiltrate Cruz Bay.
9. Lake Tahoe, Nevada
“Lights on the Lake” is considered to be the largest light show in the West. Droves of partiers flock to the south shore of Lake Tahoe to see brilliant fireworks shoot from a barge – so high and bright that they can be seen from anywhere on the lake. Music is broadcasted by local radio stations, and shores and docks fill with food vendors and entertainment. Grab a paddleboat and watch from the water for a truly captivating experience.
10. New Orleans
It doesn’t have to be Mardis Gras for New Orleans to have a good time. NOLA beats out other firework displays because it doesn’t just showcase their lights in a typical way – it doubles the action by having two barges battle it out in a fireworks competition on the water. Grab some jambalaya and experience this bluesy town’s unique version of the Fourth.