America's best Fourth of July fireworks displays

America's best Fourth of July fireworks displays

By Katie Jackson, Published June 30, 2016,

It just wouldn’t be the Fourth of July without a well-received rockets’ red glare. This year Pyro Spectaculars, will shoot off more than 100 tons of pyrotechnics in just 40 of its top shows across the country.

Wherever you are this Independence Day, chances are you’re within driving distance of one of these dramatic fireworks displays.

1) Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks, New York, NY

On July 4, more than 3 million spectators will line New York City’s East River to catch the country’s largest fireworks display. The star-studded 40th Annual Macy’s Firework Show will feature performances by Meghan Trainor and Kenny Chesney followed by five barges setting off more than 50,000 pyro effects.

Where to Watch: For front row seats, watch from the 34th Street Helipad. Those who don’t feel like braving the crowds can book the Fireworks Package at Dumont NYC and see the show from the comfort of their very own Skyline Suite.

2) Old Fashioned 4th of July, Aspen, CO

With a backdrop of Aspen Mountain, this resort town’s fireworks extravaganza screams Instagram likes. The show lasts approximately 20 minutes and serves as the intermission for the free family-friendly community street dance beginning at 8 p.m.

Where to Watch: Head downtown to the car-free pedestrian mall between Galena and Monarch Streets. Boasting mountain views, restrooms and a playground, Wagner Park, is also a great place to camp out before the show. 

3) Cody Skylighters Fireworks Show, Cody, Wyo.

Capping off a 5-day celebration—the 97th Annual Cody Stampede—this fireworks show goes above and beyond. The 16-minute-long show is put on by volunteers who spend months raising money to be able to afford the $1,000/minute fireworks.

Where to Watch: No need to drag out the lawn chairs or sit on the ground. The best seating for this show is stadium seating at the Cody Stampede Fairgrounds. Another popular vantage point among the locals is the top of Skyline Drive.

4) Lake Tahoe, Calif.

Lake Tahoe visitors can enjoy back-to-back nights of waterfront lights this Independence Day. Festivities kick off on July 3 with a free fireworks display and beach party at Kings Beach State Recreation Area. On the 4th, Tahoe City hosts its 71st annual fireworks show featuring approximately $50,000 in pyrotechnics. 

Where to Watch: North Tahoe spectators will find plenty of space at Kings Beach’s strand of public sand. Tahoe City’s fireworks are best seen from Commons Beach downtown and Tahoe State Park to the north. 

5) Rockaway Beach 4th of July, Rockaway Beach, Ore.

Not only is this beachfront fireworks display one of the largest in the Pacific Northwest, it’s also one of the few public events where spectators can bring and set off their own pyrotechnics. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the show that was previously recognized by Coastal Living Magazine as one of the best places in the country to watch fireworks.

Where to Watch: The safest bet for a family-friendly experience is the Wayside parking lot. The popular beach access point will be a pedestrian-only, fireworks-free zone.

6) Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic, Austin, Texas

The performer lineup preceding thisfireworks show reads like a “who’s who” of country music legends. Hosted by Willie Nelson, the two-stage concert includes appearances by the likes of Lee Ann Womack, Alison Krauss and Brantley Gilbert. Budweiser, the event’s sponsor, spares no expense for the fireworks ending the all-day party.

Where to Watch: There are no bad seats in Austin’s 360 Amphitheater. Standing room only ticket prices start at $40 while VIP seats run up to $250– or pay $45 for a campsite and catch the show from the comfort of your RV.

7) Pigeon Forge Patriot Festival, Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

If you’re in eastern Tennessee this July 4th, then Pigeon Forge’s Patriot Park is the place to be. This resort town in the shadow of the Great Smoky Mountains is hosting its annual Patriot Festival headlined by Grammy Award-winning country music artist Joe Diffie. The free festival’s Fireworks Spectacular will be broadcast along with a patriotic soundtrack on Knoxville’s WIVK-FM.

Where to Watch: Leave the coolers at home and head to Patriot Park early to get a good space on the lawn. Free parking will be available in nearby lots with complimentary park shuttles running every 15 minutes.

8) Red, White & Boom, Columbus, Ohio

Those who can’t wait until the 4th can head to Columbus on July 1 for Ohio’s largest fireworks show. Red, White & Boom has grown from 30,000 spectators in 1981 to nearly half a million in 2015. The show’s Grand Finale—supposedly the best in the Midwest— is followed by an after party at The Three-Legged Mare.

Where to Watch: Early birds can show up on June 30 starting at 6 p.m. to stake claims on prime viewing spots in Bicentennial Park.  Two miles south and on the other side of the river, the less crowded Berliner Sports Park is a good plan B.

9) National Mall Fourth of July Celebration, Washington, D.C.

Perhaps the most moving fireworks display in the world is found in the nation’s capital. For almost 18 minutes, fireworks fill the night sky blanketing the White House, Capitol, Reflecting Pool, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and other iconic American landmarks. The Air Force Band accompanies the fireworks with a free concert at the Air Force Memorial.

Where to Watch: Avoid the huge crowds and tight security at the Mall by watching from across the Potomac in Arlington’s Long Bridge Park. The best, albeit priciest, panoramic viewing is from the presidential suites at the Ritz-Carlton in Pentagon City.

10) Wawa Welcome America, Philadelphia, Pa.

This week-long celebration of America’s 240th birthday features block parties, concerts, food vendors and three nights of fireworks. The festival wraps up on July 4th with a Declaration of Independence reading by Leslie Odom, Jr.—star of the Broadway hit, Hamilton. Then it’s time for the Grand Finale—15 minutes of fireworks accompanied by a musical score and patriotic quotes.  

Where to Watch: On July 1 and 2 the public is invited to watch from Penn’s Landing along the Delaware River. On July 4th, the show moves to Benjamin Franklin Parkway with the best seats being the famous “Rocky Steps” in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 

Katie Jackson is a travel writer. When she’s not working, she’s chasing after a Leonberger named Zeus. 

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