Girl at july 4th event, holding American Flag with fireworks in background

Where to Go for 4th of July Vacation: The Best Events and Fireworks

Best Events   |   Best Fireworks   |   Where to Go

One of the great things about the 4th of July is celebrating the holiday can be simple and relatively inexpensive while remaining memorable and fun. If you’re looking to make this year’s festivities a little more special, then Independence Day is also a great occasion for a summer vacation. We’ve put together a list of the best 4th of July events, best 4th of July fireworks and our suggestions for where to go for 4th of July vacation. 

Also read: Top 5 Reasons to Get Travel Insurance

Best 4th of July Events

Kaboom Town;  Addison, Texas
Over half a million people travel to this northern Dallas suburb that typically only houses 15,000 residents for this annual event. The firework display includes 3,500 pounds of fireworks and the Cavanaugh Flight Museum’s vintage military aircrafts, World Class Warbirds, perform an airshow complete with pyrotechnics. Addison features 200 eateries per capita, more than any other town in the United States, where you can catch a live broadcast of the half-hour-long display or grab a bite after the show.

Also read: Why You Should Get Travel Insurance for Trips in the U.S.

Let Freedom Sing; Nashville, TN

“Let Freedom Sing” attracts nearly 200,000 visitors annually and the city has been known to set off more fireworks than New York City, making it one of the nation’s largest fireworks shows. The Nashville symphony live accompanies this impressive display that’s best viewed along Broadway or in Riverfront Park. Event highlights include two free live music stages: Ascend Amphitheater and The Green at Riverfront Park, featuring top acts and a free Family Fun Zone for little ones. Nashville features affordable flights and accommodations, too.

Also read: Travel like a President--Visit a Presidential Vacation Site

Fair St. Louis; St. Louis, MO
Self-proclaimed as “America’s Biggest Birthday Party,” this free event releases 15,000 pounds of fireworks from July 2-4 and takes place on the site of the 1904 World’s Fair, 1,371-acre Forest Park. Festivities start with a fun run and continue for several days, including high-profile musical acts, air shows, exhibitions and educational activities.

Wawa Welcome America; Philadelphia, PA
The city that hosted the signing of the Declaration of Independence holds a week-long celebration prior to the holiday that includes a parade through the historic city center, local food events, movie nights, an Independence Day themed storytelling event and live music. Over half a million people gather for the final night of festivities featuring the largest free concert in the country and a 15,000 shell, 15-minute-long fireworks show performed with the Philadelphia Museum of Art as its backdrop, home of Rocky Balboa’s infamous run up the east steps. 

Also read: Best U.S. Historical Places to Visit with Kids or Grandkids

July 4th Celebration at the Pier; San Francisco, CA
Though San Francisco was far from the action in 1776, it makes up for it with the patriotic power of 10,000 fireworks in 25 minutes launched from two locations over San Francisco Bay, set to a custom soundtrack for the occasion. Family-friendly festivities take place throughout the day around Fisherman’s Wharf, with the center of the action happening at Pier 39. San Francisco is well known for its street entertainers, live music, and bustling shops and eateries, and you’ll find all of that and more at the Wharf on the Fourth. If you plan far enough in advance, reserve a table at a restaurant on the Pier for a guaranteed good show. If you want to watch the fireworks show without fighting as much of a crowd, try hiking up to Pioneer Park for the view.

Bristol Fourth of July; Bristol, R.I.

The oldest, continuous 4th of July celebration in the U.S., “Bristol Fourth of July” started in 1785 with its first parade: a single Revolutionary War veteran. Today, the annual celebration starts three weeks prior on Flag Day, June 14th, and continues through Independence Day with a variety of public activities including concerts and sporting events. The town hosts an annual Fourth of July Ball and Fireworks are held on July 3rd, though the parade remains the celebration’s focal point and features a number of attractions such as a drum corps show and firefighter muster.

Also read: 5 Tips for Planning a Smooth Family Trip

Best 4th of July Fireworks

Lights on the Lake; South Lake Tahoe, CA
Named one of the best 4th of July fireworks shows in the country by the American Pyrotechnics Association, we trust the experts and put this show at the top of our list. The “largest pyrotechnics show in the West” can be seen all around Tahoe, but the best viewing spots are along the south shore, where the natural majesty of the Sierra Nevada mountains act as perfect backdrop to the explosive reflections on serene water. Two notable ways to view the 25-minute show--from the water on one of the paddlewheel boats that call Lake Tahoe home or get real close to the action by booking a helicopter ride.

Also read: Tips for Seeing the Grand Canyon with Kids

Big Bay Boom July 4th Fireworks Show; San Diego, CA
Tourists already flock to San Diego to relax and enjoy the beach during the summer; layer an awesome firework show on top of that and it’s a no brainer for a Fourth of July trip. The main fireworks show in town can be seen along most of the city’s coastline, with fireworks flying from four barges in the bay. The Big Bay Boom lived up to its name and received national attention in 2012 as one of the loudest 4th of July celebrations ever, when all 18-minutes of fireworks accidentally went off in 15 seconds. For an unforgettable day, rent a boat, spend the afternoon cooling off and cruising the bay, and watch the sunset and fireworks from a view that can’t be beat.

Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular

There aren’t many firework shows that are accompanied by live music during the show, let alone a legendry act like the Boston Pops Orchestra. But Boston takes it a step further, with real cannons firing to the beat. The center of the action is DCR Hatch Shell, where the band performs, and with seven barges firing pyrotechnics along the Charles River, great views can be had from Harvard Bridge to the Esplanade. The whole show is amazing, but the cannons really grabbed our attention.

Where to Go for 4th of July

Celebrate in a big city you’ve been meaning to tick off your bucket list.

New York City
It’s the perfect place to take part in classic Americana to celebrate the Fourth, like a baseball game, Broadway show, a New York hotdog, and a ride to the top of the Empire State Building all in one day. If you travel to NYC on Independence Day, you can even go big and get tickets to watch the country’s largest fireworks display—Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular—from the top of the Empire State Building.

Washington D.C.
There’s a lot to do in D.C. on the Fourth. Start the morning off by honoring the founding fathers and viewing some of the country’s most important historic documents at the National Archives. Watch the capitol’s annual National Independence Day Parade along Constitution Avenue. See the Washington Nationals play the national pastime in an annual game on July Fourth. Hear the Star-Spangled Banner at the Independence Day Organ Concert at the Washington National Cathedral. End the day at the Capitol Fourth celebration on the National Mall’s West Lawn with a concert featuring the National Symphony Orchestra playing to a firework show that illuminates the city’s many monuments.

New Orleans
You can’t go wrong with the July Fourth combo of a New Orleans jazz band, delicious food, fireworks and the French Quarter. The Go 4th on the River Dueling Barges Fireworks Extravaganza (you read that right) is the annual Independence Day party in the city where the party never stops. Set up a picnic at City Park or get a coveted ticket for a spot on a steamboat to get up close and personal with some dueling fireworks.

Join the millions of people who celebrate the Fourth at the Navy Pier in Chicago, with a festive day of music, shopping and beaches topped off by fireworks over Lake Michigan. You can even watch the show from atop the 200-foot Ferris Wheel at the waterfront park. Looking for a more intimate way to celebrate? Try a dinner cruise near the Navy Pier and catch the fireworks display after dessert. 

Now that you have some ideas for where to go for 4th of July this year, get planning! We wish you a safe and happy Fourth of July wherever your travels take you. Don’t forget to protect your trip investment with travel insurance and consider if you need medical or emergency medical transportation coverage before you depart. Life is unpredictable—but Generali Global Assistance is here to help.

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