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While a quaint New England beach town or activity-packed mountain resort might be the first place that comes to mind for an Independence Day getaway, travelers to (and residents of) major urban centers like Houston and Chicago can enjoy a wide variety of concerts, parades, fairs and fireworks displays. Here’s why you should consider heading to one of these six cities to celebrate the 4th this year.

New York City

Fly Into: John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), LaGuardia Airport (LGA) — if you have to — or Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR).

Check Out: 60,000 fireworks will explode over the East River on Independence Day courtesy of Macy’s, now getting ready for its 41st year of the event. Boat cruises from Pier 17 offer dramatic views, and any bar or hotel with a rooftop is holding special celebrations, including a Japanese-American barbecue complete with sake keg at the The Kitano. Aside from fireworks, there are a ton of July 4th happenings in NYC, from Midsummer Night Swing featuring the Louis Armstrong Eternity Band at Lincoln Center to Nathan’s Famous hot dog eating contest on Coney Island.

Stay: In Brooklyn, the buzzy William Vale Hotel’s July 4th package includes an East River-view balcony room, a bottle of Champagne and snacks (package starts at $499 per night). The holiday weekend is also a good time to check out Public, a brand-new hotel brought to you by famed hotelier Ian Schrager, whose grassy courtyard and spaceship-y corridors have been all over Instagram lately (from $200 per night).

You won
You won’t need a telescope to see the fireworks from the William Vale Hotel’s rooftop. Image courtesy of the hotel.

Chicago

Fly Into: O’Hare International Airport (ORD) or Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW).

Check Out: Chicago hosts a huge fireworks spectacle on Navy Pier, following a free outdoor concert at Millennium Park, where the 73-year-old Grant Park Orchestra will perform a patriotic playlist. Most of the Windy City’s boat tour companies offer cruises on Lake Michigan for optimal fireworks viewing — you can expect to pay upwards of $100 per person for the ones that include dinner, the wrong move when Chicago offers some of the most creative restaurants in the country. Instead, try dining at Parachute, Elske or Smith and book the boat ride on the side.

Stay: Located across from Millennium and Grant Parks, the Hilton Chicago is so close to the Independence Day action, you’ll be able to hear the symphony and see the fireworks from your room — be sure to book one of the suites facing Lake Michigan. Lake-view rooms from $139 or 36,000 Hilton Honors points per night.

Fireworks over Lake Michigan are best viewed from one of Chicago’s many boat lines. Image courtesy of the Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.

Los Angeles

Fly Into: Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

Check Out: Befitting LA’s sprawl, there are fireworks going off all across the metro area on July 4th, from the Rose Bowl, where Americafest starts in the early afternoon with a motorcycle stunt show and kid’s crafts, to Pacific Palisades, which has synchronized skydivers and a parade down Sunset Boulevard on its schedule. Fireworks also cap a Pentatonix concert at the Hollywood Bowl and an al fresco screening of Jurassic Park at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

Stay: Book a stay at the Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey, a quintessentially California property right on the harbor, where all but two room and suite categories feature at least partial marina views for viewing the dazzling del Rey fireworks over the ocean. Or if you feel inclined to change out of your plush Ritz robe, post up at the resort’s Cast & Plow restaurant for Nicoise-style scallops and margarita floats made with Cali Cab. Marina-view rooms from $416 or 50,000 Ritz-Carlton Rewards points per night.

Fireworks at the Hollywood Bowl in LA, home this year to a Pentatonix concert. Image courtesy of Los Angeles Tourism.
Fireworks at the Hollywood Bowl in LA, home this year to a Pentatonix concert. Image courtesy of Discover Los Angeles.

Washington, D.C.

Fly Into: Dulles International Airport (IAD) or Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA).

Check Out: The nation’s capital pulls out all the stops for July 4th, including the Independence Day Parade along Constitution Avenue, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival (which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year), the free Capitol Fourth Concert, whose 2017 acts include The Beach Boys and John Stamos — for all the Full House fans out there, that’s Uncle Jesse minus the Rippers — and starting at 9:09pm, 17 straight minutes of bombastic fireworks.

Stay: The Kimpton Mason & Rook Hotel (from $169 per night) in Logan Circle has stately rooms, a bike-share program and a rooftop pool and restaurant, Radiator, that’s hosting a month-long American-themed food and beverage programming that includes red, white and blue sangria — made of white wine with cherries and blueberries — and various styles of hot dogs. On July 4th, the rooftop makes a great perch for fireworks viewing with free access for hotel guests. Also consider the Mandarin Oriental, whose “Fantastic Fireworks” package includes a fireworks-view room, snacks and late checkout (from $435 per night).

Catch a swim before the fireworks on the rooftop of Mason & Rook hotel. Image courtesy Kimpton.
Go for a swim before watching the fireworks from the rooftop of Kimpton’s Mason & Rook Hotel. Image courtesy of the hotel.

San Francisco

Fly Into: San Francisco International Airport (SFO).

Check Out: San Francisco’s Pier 39 turns 39 this year, marking an extra-special celebration at the city’s main fireworks location with live music, 180-degree viewing and multiple cruise launches. For a cool alternative to cruises, City Kayak offers two-hour kayak tours of the Bay during the show. Across the bridge, the final night of the Marin County Fair culminates on the 4th with Pyro Spectacular’s display.

Stay: There are plenty of hotels within walking distance of Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf, including a Sheraton, Holiday Inn and a new Hyatt Centric. Expect inflated prices for the holiday weekend, so consider staying across the bay, where rates start at $199 (or 35,000 Marriott Rewards points) a night at the Courtyard Marriott Larkspur in Marin County or $169 (or 39,000 Hilton Honors points) a night at the DoubleTree Hotel by Hilton Berkeley Marina.

Just before the fireworks at the Marin County Fair, only of the July 4th happenings in the Bay Area.
Just before the fireworks at the Marin County Fair, only one of the Bay Area’s July 4th happenings. Image courtesy of Marin County Fair’s Facebook page.

Houston

Fly Into: George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), William P. Hobby Airport (HOU).

Check Out: CITGO Freedom Over Texas is Houston’s flagship Independence Day event, featuring performances by the US Air Force Band of the West, County Music Award-winning artist Hunter Hayes and “Cake By the Ocean” singers DNCE, culminating in a massive fireworks display at Eleanor Tinsley Park. Not to be outdone in the oil-sponsored fireworks field, ExxonMobil hosts the fireworks during the Summer Symphony Nights July 4th-themed performance at the Miller Outdoor Theater.

Stay: Downtown, the Lancaster Hotel’s July 4th package includes transportation to and from Eleanor Tinsley Park to see the fireworks, plus an extended happy hour and free parking (from $153 per night). Nearby, the handsome Sam Houston is a newer member of Hilton’s Curio family that’s also worth checking out (from $135 or 36,000 Hilton Honors points per night), as is the gigantic new Marriott Marquis (from $273 or 35,000 Marriott Rewards points per night), whose Texas-shaped lazy river might be the best place to take a break from Houston’s intense summer heat.

Even fireworks are bigger in Texas. Image courtesy Flickr.
Even fireworks are bigger in Texas. Image courtesy of Texas.713 via Flickr.

Where will you be seeing the 4th of July fireworks this year? Sound off, below.

Featured image courtesy of Visit Houston.

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