Maybe it’s a guy thing, but I really love fireworks. When I was a kid, I always looked forward to the Fourth of July with great anticipation. Sure the barbecues and pool time are great, but it’s the fireworks that really define the Fourth.
Big, small, ornate, booming, choreographed to music or just launched from the neighborhood cul-de-sac, nothing quite says Americana like Fourth of July pyrotechnics (and singed eyebrows).The sights, the sounds, the smells—all combine to create an exhilarating experience.
Following is a list of some of the best BIG shows in popular U.S. vacation destinations. So gather up the family, get the glow sticks ready for the kids, and head out for an evening of oohs and aahs.
10. Lights on the Lake—Lake Tahoe
9. Freedom Over Texas—Houston
An all day shindig with country performers and food and brew, culminating in a rockin’ aerial display. http://www.houstontx.gov/specialevents/cfot/index.html
8. Friendship Festival—Buffalo, New York
The Friendship Festival celebrates “nearly 200 years of peace” between the United States and Canada. It’s a week-long celebration that ends in a fireworks display on the Fourth, visible from both the U.S. and Ontario shores of Lake Erie. http://www.friendshipfestival.com/events.html
7. Go Fourth on the River—New Orleans
Just when you thought New Orleans couldn’t get any better, it does. Live jazz and great food paired with “dueling fireworks barges” on the Mississippi. Yeah, that definitely sounds like fun. http://www.go4thontheriver.com/
6. Fourth of July Waterfront Celebration at Pier 39—San Francisco
A solid fireworks display to be sure, but what makes this one special is the music of Tainted Love—possibly the world’s greatest ‘80s cover band. Warning: potentially dangerous combination of hair spray and explosives. http://www.pier39.com/Events/events.htm
5. WaMu Family Fourth at Lake Union—Seattle
Hailed by Time magazine as one of the “Top Five Fireworks Displays” in the country, this free admission, family-friendly celebration is in its 20th year of bringing together the local community for a unique day of commemoration. http://www.wamufamily4th.org/
4. Welcome America—Philadelphia
What better place to celebrate the Fourth of July than in Philly: the birthplace of our nation, Rocky Balboa and the cheese steak. http://www.americasbirthday.com/
3. Central Pennsylvania Fourth Fest – State College, PA
This extravaganza bills itself as “the greatest volunteer fireworks show in the nation. ”Where do I sign up? Central Pennsylvania Fourth Fest combines live entertainment, the Firecracker 4K fun run, food and drink with thousands of pounds of high explosives launched by amateur pyros. Rock on! [http://www.4thfest.org/]
2. Macy’s Fourth of July Fest—New York City
See one of theworld’s biggest fireworks displays in the greatest city in the world. ‘Nuf said. http://www.ny.com/holiday/july4/
1. Fireworks on the Mall—Washington D.C.
Yes, the crowd is insane, and you’ll want to claim your precious patch of real estate on the National Mall way early, but this is a show not to be missed. The fireworks are set against the backdrop of iconic U.S. landmarks and coupled with patriotic music performed by the National Symphony Orchestra. Having grown up in the D.C. suburbs, it’s one of those experiences I’ll always remember. http://www.nps.gov/mall/planyourvisit/fireworks.htm
Happy Fourth of July!