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In the United States, the most patriotic night of the year is also the most dazzling, with Fourth of July fireworks lighting up the skies from sea to shining sea. Many cities stage awe-inspiring displays of bombs bursting in air, attracting huge crowds in parks and public spaces, as well as on roads and public transportation. To leave the hordes behind this Fourth of July, head to the highest floors of these American hotels to earn and use your points as you gaze in wonder at the rockets’ red glare.
For a relatively hassle-free view of the fireworks on the National Mall, head several blocks away and take the elevator to the P.O.V. Roof Terrace at the W Washington DC. You can’t make reservations here, so in order to snag a red leather couch or spot out near the railing, it’s best to arrive well ahead of the 9:10pm fireworks kick-off and linger over a spherical ice-cube cocktail. Factoring in downtown D.C.’s usual Fourth of July crush of humanity on the Mall and Metro, be aware that available rooms at this Category 5 Starwood property start at $369 or 12,000 Starpoints per night; even SPG members who don’t stay here, though, can use the Starwood Amex (either the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express or the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express) to earn 5 Starpoints for every dollar spent on their bar tab.
For a potentially less expensive night with a wide-reaching view of the festivities from across the Potomac River, consider booking at the DoubleTree by Hilton Washington, DC – Crystal City. The Friday-night cover charge is $10 per person at the Skydome Lounge, the DC area’s only revolving top-floor restaurant, and available rooms (many of which feature river and Mall views) at this Category 5 property start at $129 or 37,500 Honors points a night. Honors members earn 10 points per dollar spent on rooms and room charges (plus a special summer double-points promotion through July 31), but those with Hilton credit cards (like the Citi Hilton Reserve) can earn an additional 6-12 points per dollar on all on-property charges, including their tab at Skydome Lounge.
Editor’s Note: The below information would be correct if only the location of the New York City fireworks hadn’t been moved to the vicinity of the Brooklyn Bridge for 2014. To actually see NYC fireworks this year, the restaurant or upper floors of the Andaz Wall Street would be a good option, as would the Brooklyn Terrace of the Sheraton Brooklyn, which will be open to the public on the Fourth, without a cover charge, from 6pm-2am
To catch an incomparable view of both Macy’s annual fireworks show and the sparkly light show on the Empire State Building, take the elevator to the Sky Room at the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Times Square; set on the hotel’s 33rd and 34th floors, this is the highest rooftop bar in the Big Apple. From 6-10pm, Fourth of July festivities at this lofty hotspot cost $100 per person and include and open bar, full BBQ spread and live DJs.During the holiday weekend, available rooms at this Category 8 property start at $260 or 40,000 Marriott Rewards points a night, but as the Sky Room isn’t directly affiliated with the Marriott, a spend here won’t earn you any Rewards points.
Near Columbus Circle, the swanky, modern and much larger Sky Terrace at the Hudson Hotel is throwing its own fireworks-viewing party for $40 per person from 6-11:30pm, with a one-hour open bar from 6-7pm and live DJs spinning until 11:30pm. The entrance price is one of the least expensive for an NYC hotel rooftop party on the Fourth, though this property (which starts at $225 a night during the holiday weekend) offers no opportunities to spend or earn points.
Billed as “the largest free concert in America,” the Philly 4th of July Jam will be followed by the Grand Finale Fireworks over the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Rather than staking out lawn chair space along Benjamin Franklin Parkway or in a handful of City Center parks, head to one of two neighboring hotels.
The 33-story Loews Philadelphia Hotel is set in the city’s first skyscraper, and many of its upper rooms offer some of the city’s best fireworks views; holiday weekend rates start at $170 a night, and the Loews YouFirst Rewards program offers perks like free room upgrades after only two stays (of as little as one night apiece) at qualifying rates. The hotel’s popular Bank & Bourbon restaurant is set on the ground floor, but in-room dining service will be available on the Fourth of July.
Closer to the Museum District action, all 288 suites at the Embassy Suites Philadelphia feature balconies (ask for a view of the Museum grounds) and holiday weekend rates at this Hilton Category 6 property start at $229 or 45,000 Honors points. Honors members normally earn 10 points per dollar spent on rooms and room charges (plus a special summer double-points promotion through July 31), but those with Hilton credit cards (like the Hilton Amex) can earn an additional 6-12 points per dollar spent at the Embassy Suites.
Shot from four barges, the annual Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular joyfully erupts over the Charles River at 9:35 pm. A great view of these fireworks can be seen from the Hyatt Regency Cambridge, a glassy, almost pyramid-shaped business/leisure property set beside the Charles River near Harvard Square and several area colleges. The hotel’s holiday festivities are open to the public and will include a barbecue on the Charles River (beginning at 5pm and featuring snow cones and and a pie/ice cream bar) and complimentary seating and a cash bar in their Charles View Ballroom, where you can see the fireworks through floor-to-ceiling windows. This 470-guestroom Category 4 Hyatt hotel has availability for the holiday weekend starting at $259 or 15,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points per night. For advice on using a credit card at this hotel, see this post on which credit card is the best for Hyatt stays.
In Music City’s downtown, you could join the throngs at Riverfront Park for hours of concerts and some of the country’s best fireworks, or you could beat the crush and head to one of two nearby hotels.
Opened in September 2013, the tall, glassy Omni Nashville has the city’s only rooftop pool/lounge, which makes a cool and modern splash – but is only open to hotel guests. Note also that while there’s availability (starting at $279 a night) for the holiday weekend, these are blackout dates for the Omni Select Guest program, and a stay here won’t count toward the 20-night total needed for a free night.
If you want to earn or use points, ask for a room with a river view on one of the highest floors of the 25-floor Renaissance Nashville and/or enjoy cocktails and live music at The Bridge bar and lounge, which overlooks downtown Nashville. Over the weekend of the Fourth, rates at this Category 8 property start at $237 a night or 40,000 Marriott Rewards points. If you use the personal or business versions of the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit cards, you’ll receive 5 points for every dollar you spend at this property.
The city’s annual Independence Day party, the Fair St. Louis, is held on the grounds of Forest Park, site of the 1904 World’s Fair. The celebration kicks off at 12 noon, but the fireworks don ‘t start until 10pm – allowing early-bird attendees to stake out the best viewing spots.
Stake out an even better one at Three Sixty at the Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark, which is set beside Busch Stadium, overlooking both Forest Park and the iconic Gateway Arch. Starting at $250 for two people, there will be reserved VIP seating along the east edge and fire pits, but at 8pm, those without reservations can begin trying their luck for an entrance fee of $10 per person. Holiday weekend rates at this Category 5 Hilton property start at $269 or 37,500 Honors Rewards per night. Honors members earn 10 points per dollar spent on rooms and room charges (plus this summer’s double-points promotion), but those with Hilton credit cards (such as the Hilton Surpass) can earn an additional 6-12 points per dollar on all on-property charges, including their tab at Three Sixty.
The Magic City puts on several fireworks shows at 9pm, including America’s Birthday Bash at Bayfront Park and the Miami Beach display at 10th Street Beach.
Beside Bayfront Park, the rooftop pool at the 34-story, 641-guestroom InterContinental Miami, which overlooks the park and Biscayne Bay, is open to the public on the Fourth of July; note, though, that the poolside Bluewater bar closes at 7pm. (You can, however, ask one of the other three restaurants/bar to serve you to-go drinks in plastic cups.) If you choose to stay at this marble-paved luxury hotel, where the lobby is built around a Henry Moore sculpture, room rates start at $159 per night; IHG Reward Nights aren’t available for the nights of July 4th or 5th, but for an extra $10 each night, IHG Rewards members, who will already earn 10 points for every $1 spent on-property, can opt to earn an additional 1,000 bonus points per night. Members using the IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card will earn an additional 5 points for every $1 spent at the InterContinental Miami.
The ground-floor hotel pool and lounge at the Mondrian South Beach, set on bayside West Avenue at 11th Street, has one of the city’s best views of the 10th Street Beach fireworks from its elegant seating areas. Non-guests can attend the hotel’s popular Friday night DJ parties on a first-come, first-served basis, but on the Fourth of July, it’s best to arrive as much as a few hours’ early or make dinner reservations [call (305) 514-1920] in the adjoining restaurant so that you’re guaranteed a seat when the fireworks begin. Holiday weekend rates start at $246 a night, and Visa Signature Hotels members will receive automatic upgrades (when available), free in-room Wifi, a $25 food and beverage voucher, and more.
NOLA’s annual Go 4th on the River celebration will surely be a rollicking party, but come 9pm, if you’re looking for a more genteel view of the Dueling Barges fireworks display over the Mississippi, hightail it a few blocks west of the river to The Westin New Orleans Canal Place. At this 438-guestroom, 29-floor French Quarter hotel, both guests and non-guests can linger in the 11th-floor lobby or grab drinks (like a New Orleans-brewed Abita beer) and/or dinner in the adjacent Green Bar; if you’re a hotel guest, you can also take the recently renovated elevators up to the rooftop pool. During the holiday weekend, room rates at this SPG Category 4 property start at $129 or 10,000 Starpoints a night. And again, SPG members who don’t stay here can still use their personal or business Starwood Amex to earn 5 Starpoints for every dollar spent on their Green Bar tab.
For a view high above the city’s fireworks at Navy Pier (which start at 9:30pm), settle in on a banquette beside an outdoor firepit at the Dec Rooftop Lounge + Bar at The Ritz-Carlton Chicago. Set along the Magnificent Mile in the Water Tower Place skyscraper, this 438-guestroom Four Seasons property features a 52-foot-long indoor lap pool, a kids’ program that includes daily cookie baking with the on-site pastry chef, and 90 luxury suites on floors 15-30, many with stellar views of the pier. Dec is open to the public, so a visit here wouldn’t require an overnight stay, but if you want to make a holiday weekend of it, rates start at $295. Members of Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts who stay at The Ritz-Carlton Chicago will receive their third night free, as well as (based on availability) perks like early check-in, late check-out and a room upgrade.
When the City by the Bay’s annual Fourth of July celebration kicks off along the San Francisco Bay waterfront at 9:30 p.m., the biggest crowds will gather in the Aquatic Park (at Jefferson and Hyde Streets) and at Fisherman’s Wharf, just off Pier 39. None of the hotels that are the closest to the action – including Kimpton’s Argonaut Hotel, or the Fisherman’s Wharf Hyatt, Radisson and Sheraton – have public spaces with exceptional fireworks views, so instead, consider aiming a bit higher. The bay and fireworks views from the Top of the Mark, the elegant restaurant and bar (with a menu of 100 different martinis) on the 19th floor of Nob Hill’s Mark Hopkins San Francisco, are some of the best in the city. While you don’t have to be a guest to enjoy dinner or cocktails at Top of the Mark, during Fourth of July weekend at this 383-guestroom InterContinental property, rooms with views start at $314 or 50,000 IHG Rewards a night. IHG Rewards Club members who pay an extra $10 each night will earn the usual 10 points for every $1 spent on-property plus an additional 1,000 bonus points per night, and members using the IHG Rewards Club card will also earn an additional 5 points for every $1 spent at the Mark Hopkins.
Have a favorite hotel for watching fireworks where you live? Please share in the comments below – and have a wonderful Fourth of July!