(ARA) – Memorial Day might be the unofficial start of summer, but as far as parties go, it’s hard to beat the celebrations that come with the fireworks of July 4. So fire up the grill, ice down some beverages, and look to the night sky in observance of America’s 235th birthday. Need some inspiration? Below are the top five places to see fireworks this year:
A top five fireworks list is not complete without including the nation’s capital. Attracting more than half a million people each year, Washington, D.C., is a beautiful backdrop for the Fourth of July celebrations. The all-day event starts with a parade down Constitution Avenue between Seventh and 17th streets featuring marching bands, military personnel, and some special VIPs. Festivities start on the National Mall at 10 a.m., and all visitors are required to enter through a security checkpoint. The U.S. Navy Band performs a free concert near the Washington Monument, and the National Symphony Orchestra performs on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building. Starting at dark, fireworks launch from the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and can be seen throughout the National Mall area. Check out Away.com’s Top 10 4th of July Fireworks Viewpoints for spectacular views of the display.
If you want to celebrate America’s independence for more than one day, then head to Philadelphia. The Wawa Welcome America festivities stretch from June 24 through July 4 and include live performances, historical presentations, Taste of Philadelphia featuring foods from the area’s top restaurants, multiple fireworks shows, and other events such as Philly at the Movies, Wawa Hoagie day, photo exhibits, the All-You-Can-Eat Ice Cream Festival, and of course, a parade. The grand finale fireworks conclude the 11-day celebration on July 4. Most activities are free; if that’s not patriotic fun, than what is?
New York City
Online travel company Orbitz named New York City in their Top Ten Summer Destinations for 2011; so head to the Big Apple to see the famous annual Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks show that will go on in style this year over the Hudson River. The digitally synchronized show starts at 9 p.m. and is expected to include more than 40,000 fireworks lasting a full 25 minutes for the millions of spectators. For prime viewing spots check out local restaurants, the Empire State Building or an NY Waterway Cruise. Before the fantastic show, take the orange or yellow subway line out to Coney Island to watch the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest that has been a patriotic tradition since 1916.
During summer, thousands of people flock to Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard, escaping their regular lives and reveling in the beauty of the island. July 4 can be a busy weekend on the island, full of cookouts and fun in the sun, but don’t forget about the annual parade and fireworks. The parade starts at 5 p.m. heading down Main Street and Pease’s Point Way. After the antique cars and bands pass by, claim your spot near the Memorial Warf to watch the fireworks display that begins at dusk over the Edgartown Harbor.
The Waterfront Celebration for the Fourth of July can be found on Pier 39 and the Fisherman’s Warf. Starting at noon on Pier 39, live entertainment and other activities for visitors begin. But when the sun goes down, stop your dancing and look up at the magnificent fireworks display over the bay, put on by the city of San Francisco. Another grand way to see the fireworks is on a bay cruise that showcases the evening skyline before stopping to give guests the prime viewing spot.
Bonus: Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe’s Lights On the Lake is the largest light show in the West. Fireworks are launched off barges near the South Shore and can be seen from anywhere on the lake.
If you can’t make it to one of these locations, check with your local city website for fireworks displays in your area. Or, watch “A Capital Fourth”, the Washington D.C. fireworks, on your local PBS television station and stay cool and mosquito free inside.