From intimate to extravagant, 4th of July celebrations happen all across America, making it an opportune time to see how other cities honor Uncle Sam’s birthday. If you’re looking to switch up your routine this year, make our founding fathers proud and party like it’s 1776 in one of these eight exhilarating Independence Day destinations.
The Emerald City might be known for coffee, grunge music and perpetual rainy weather, but you can add 4th of July celebrations to the mix as well. The crown jewel of Seattle’s patriotic festivities is unquestionably Seafair Summer Fourth at Gas Work Parks. Utilizing about 8,500 pounds of fireworks, this 21-minute extravaganza has been voted as one of the best fireworks shows in the country by both USA Today and Business Insider. This event is free, but if prime viewing is your main concern, consider coughing up $40 to $60 for reserved seating. Another alternative is to set sail on a sightseeing cruise starting from Elliot Bay and concluding under the cascade of glistening explosions.
New York City
There’s really no wrong time to experience the Big Apple, but if you have the chance, you can’t miss NYC’s Independence Day celebration. In its 43rd year, the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks continues to attract over 3 million people to watch the dazzling 25-minute spectacle both in person and on national television. From the performances by chart-topping artists to the nearly 50,000 pyrotechnic effects, this 4th of July party is truly a sight to behold. If you’re looking to escape Manhattan, head out to Coney Island and marvel at the fireworks display right on the beach. Also, be sure to get there early to witness the shocking but always entertaining Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest.
As far as 4th of July bashes go, Key West checks all the major F’s: food, fireworks and fun in the sun. To find all of this in one place, look no further than the annual Key Lime Festival, a five-day culinary celebration consisting of scavenger hunts, cocktails, samples and cooking classes. New York City might host the most famous hot dog eating contest ever, but Key West is home to the key lime pie eating contest. Anybody can enter, so if you’re a sweets lover and up for the challenge, you don’t want to miss out. To top off the string of festivities, head over to the Rotary Club of Key West to find a prime spot to catch the fireworks display over the White Street Pier.
The Bay Area knows how to live it up when America’s birthday rolls around. The July 4th Celebration at Pier 39 is the place to go for all the patriotic festivities. All afternoon, you can dance to live music, enjoy sea lion watching and witness several street performers. Once the sun sets, stare at the night sky as 10,000 fireworks burst over the bay from two locations. While you can get there early and grab a spot along the pier, making a reservation at one the nearby restaurants might be a better option if you want to stay indoors. To step up your outing, there are many opportunities to experience the fireworks show on water including a whale tour and yacht sailing.
When it comes to historical grandeur in America, there are only a few places that can hold a candle to Boston, so the city doesn’t hold back for 4th of July. Make sure you have your sights set on The Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular to get your patriotic fix. Going strong for over 40 years at the 3-mile Esplanade of the Charles River, this event is headlined by an exhilarating performance by the Boston Pops Orchestra, followed by a dazzling spectacle of over 10,000 fireworks hitting as high as 1,500 feet. Attendees can exceed over 500,000, so if you’re looking for something a little less bustling, try the Marblehead Fireworks & Harbor Illumination instead. Situated 15 miles outside of the city, this celebration offers tons of family-friendly fun with live music, delectable bites, art galleries and children’s activities.
It’s America’s birthday, so you know the nation’s capital pulls no punches when it comes to patriotic revelry. The marquee event to catch is the National Mall Fourth of July Celebration, an all-day festivity ending with a glittering scene of bursts and booms against D.C.’s skyline of iconic monuments. Prior to the fireworks, be sure to catch the National Independence Day Parade held between 7th and 17th Streets. Also, find a spot on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol for A Capitol Fourth, a free concert featuring a line-up of star-studded acts. The National Mall offers the best vantage point for the fireworks show, but of course, it’s the most crowded. However, there are several rooftop bars in downtown and areas along the Potomac River that make excellent alternatives.
There’s no lack of Southern charm in Charleston, and you’ll experience a full serving of it when Independence Day rolls around. Grab your beach chair and go to the Uncle Sam Jam at Mount Pleasant Pier for a thrilling night of live music, dancing and stunning fireworks. You can also head to North Charleston’s Riverfront Park for its free 4th of July Festival, home to a huge array of food trucks and the Lowcountry’s largest fireworks display. To step up your celebration, get tickets to hop aboard the historic warship, USS Yorktown, and be mesmerized by the shimmering explosions from the flight deck. Upgrade to VIP and enjoy a complimentary bar, fully catered meal and access to the closest area of the fireworks show.
The heart and soul of San Diego’s 4th of July celebration is without a doubt the Big Bay Boom, one of the largest fireworks shows in the country. The explosions are launched from four different barges placed around North San Diego Bay, so they can be easily seen from a variety of areas including Harbor Island, Coronado Ferry Landing and Embarcadero North. Before hitting one of those spots, dig into some old-fashioned fun at the Historic Old Town Fourth of July, which offers a retro selection of games and contests such as cherry pit spitting, egg tossing and cow chip throwing. For thriller seekers, spend your afternoon at SeaWorld® San Diego to ride exhilarating coasters during the day and conclude the night enjoying a 15-minute spectacle choregraphed to a musical soundtrack.
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