Nothing says 4th of July like a fireworks spectacular, and there are plenty to choose from across the country every Independence Day weekend. It’s no surprise that the best displays draw the biggest crowds, but there’s usually a lesser-known viewing spot away from the crush where you can spread out a little more and enjoy the pops of color without the press of people. To celebrate freedom from crowds this holiday weekend, I’ve shared my picks for the country’s top fireworks shows and the best places to watch them. You can see my full list over on the TripAdvisor blog, but here’s a sampling. Of course, these are just a few of the great fireworks festivals held around the country, so please share your own favorites in the comments so that we can all start making plans for next year!
The show: The Boston Pops kick off the celebration with a free concert at 8pm (this year starring Indigo Girls, Rita Moreno, pop singer Rachel Platten, and country-blues musician and MacArthur Grant recipient Rhiannon Giddens); the real party begins when they launch into Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture and sparklers start lighting up the Back.
The spot: Hotel rooftops are ideal spots to watch the display, since they put you above the fray; check Boston Discovery Guide for recommendations. On the ground, try Memorial Drive in Cambridge or board a boat on the Charles River.
The show: Dueling fireworks barges will take turns trying to outdo each other as they explode color and shapes over the Mississippi River.
The spot: A riverboat paddlewheeler will take you closest to the action, but landlubbers can stake out a view from across the river, on the levee at Algiers Point.
The show: It’s fitting that Philly would have an impressive Independence Day celebration. It’s starts with one of the largest free concerts in America (this year Pitbull, Tony and Grammy winner Heather Headley, and the Philly Pops Big Band are performing) and ends with fireworks against the backdrop of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
The spot: The crowds start to thin out along the Schuylkill River Trail, Drexel Park, Lemon Hill, and along Kelly Drive.
The show: At some point you’ve probably watched “A Capitol Fourth” broadcast live on PBS from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. This year the show features the Beach Boys, Jimmy Buffet, Renée Fleming, the National Symphony Orchestra, and more—and end with fireworks exploding over the city’s monuments.
The spot: It’s certainly fun to be on the National Mall, close to the Lincoln Memorial where the fireworks are based, but it’s incredibly crowded. Your best bet for escaping the masses is to head across the river to the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington.
What’s your favorite place for Fourth of July fireworks?