7 of the Best Fourth of July Celebrations Across the Nation
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From world class airshows to city-wide parades and fife corps, the nation sure does know how to throw a big birthday bash. In honor of the red, white and blue, we're highlighting some of the greatest Independence Day celebrations and fireworks displays across the country, so you can plan your Fourth of July festivities in style. From the shot heard round the world to the biggest bang for your buck, find the perfect July 4 for you.
During Boston Harborfest, now in its 38th year, visitors can attend musical reenactments, dramatic readings, Freedom Trail walks, boat tours and more from July 1 through 7. (If you have a penchant for colonial fife music, this is the city for you.) The celebration culminates with the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular, a concert and fireworks show along the Charles River Esplanade, on Independence Day. This year’s headliner, Queen Latifah, will be accompanied by the much-celebrated Boston Pops Orchestra. The show often ends with an epic cannon-laden finale of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture and a fireworks finale for all of Boston and Cambridge to enjoy.
Where to Stay: Many points hotels in Boston offer travelers views of the fireworks. Consider a night at the Boston Marriott Copley Place, which offers rooms from 50,000 points per night during July 4. Just be sure to request a river-facing view on a high floor. From here, you're less than a 20-minute walk to the concert. You can also cash in IHG points for a night at the Kimpton Nine Zero Hotel; or exchange 60,000 Marriott points for a stay at the Category 7 Liberty Hotel, a Luxury Collection property facing the Charles.
New York City, New York
Macy’s, the host of many citywide celebrations, pops off with a serious firework display along the East River every year on July 4. First launched in 1958, the show designers have had a lot of time to perfect their game, and this year they plan to launch a whopping 70,000 shells from the Brooklyn Bridge and four barges in the East River. To kick things off, Jennifer Hudson has been tapped to perform "Over the Rainbow" with fireworks to follow. Start planning your own viewing party in Dumbo or in Midtown's Seaport District for the best glimpse of the show.
Where to Stay: Some of the best views (and hottest July 4 parties) will be held at the 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge. Book a night with the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card to earn 3x or 2x points respectively. If you want to use points, there are plenty of hotels in downtown Manhattan to consider, like the Millennium Hilton New York Downtown, which is asking for 62,000 points or $199 on July 4.
If you’re looking for a particularly patriotic display with drum corps, floats, giant balloons and marching bands, Washington DC’s National Independence Day Parade should be your July Fourth destination this year. You’ll find many a flag-waving opportunities along the parade route on Constitution Avenue NW. If you’re looking for a star spangled musical salute, be sure to check out PBS’s "A Capitol Fourth" on the West Lawn of the US Capitol. Hosted by John Stamos, this event has acts ranging from Carole King to Vanessa Carlton to Sesame Street to the National Symphony Orchestra. Make sure to make your way over to the National Mall for an epic view of the fireworks starting at 9:07pm.
Where to Stay: Points travelers are spoiled for choice in DC for Fourth of July festivities. You can't beat the location of the W Washington DC (from 60,000 Marriott points per night), but the Grand Hyatt Washington is also a smart option, especially for families. Rates here start at 15,000 Hyatt points per night, and you can even use your Category 1 to 4 award from the World of Hyatt Credit Card to cover the night.
Music City holds an appropriately melodic birthday bash for the nation each year. The annual Let Freedom Sing! concert and fireworks show features a block party along downtown Broadway. With Brett Eldredge as the headliner and a show-stopping fireworks display choreographed to song selections from the Grammy award winning Nashville Symphony, it’s sure to be quite the musical event. If you’re looking for some local fun during the day, check out the 14th Annual Music City Hot Chicken Festival. Enjoy Nashville’s take on hot, buffalo chicken, fire trucks on parade, cooking competitions and even a Hot Chicken art show.
Where to Stay: Great options for points travelers celebrating our nation's birthday in Nashville include the Noelle Hotel, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel; the Westin Nashville (from 50,000 points per night) and the Thompson Nashville, which now participates in the World of Hyatt program and is available from 25,000 World of Hyatt points per night.
If you’re heading to Chi-Town for your July 4 festivities, make your way to the Navy Pier for the annual lakefront fireworks starting at 9:30pm. For the best views, make a reservation on one of the many cruises hosted by boat companies such as Shoreline Sightseeing, Tall Ship Windy and Spirit Cruises. For those staying ashore, take a spin on the iconic Centennial Wheel, which boasts spectacular views of downtown and Lake Michigan.
Where to Stay: If you're planning a Fourth of July trip to Chicago for the family, book a room at the Embassy Suites, which is just five blocks from Navy Pier and offers standard two-double bed, two-room suites for between 39,000 and 60,000 Hilton Honors points per night. Included in the rate are a hot made-to-order breakfast for everyone, and the hotel’s evening happy hour with complimentary drinks and snacks. For fireworks views without the crowds, try a lake-facing guest room on the 11th, 12th or 14th floor of the Loews Chicago Hotel. If you have the Platinum Card® from American Express, you can book a through Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts and receive 5x points on prepaid hotels plus a slew of benefits and a unique property amenity (in this case, a $100 food and beverage credit).
Attention all AvGeeks: Addison “Kaboom Town!” Texas hosts an an extensive airshow on July 3 with aerobatic maneuvers, skydiving, day show flyovers and a spectacular night flight by Gene Soucy Airshows. This tiny enclave just north of Dallas attracts half a million visitors from all over Texas with its world-class fireworks display. This lauded spectacle has even received accolades from the American Pyrotechnics Association. For travelers with small children, the celebration hosts a carnival with face painting and games, while adults can check out one of the many viewing parties hosted by the town's litany of breweries, restaurants and hotels.
Where to Stay: Bed down at the Le Méridien Dallas by the Galleria (from 25,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) — just 10 minutes away from all the action.
San Diego, California
San Diego claims to have the largest fireworks display in southern California, and quite possibly the West Coast. A quartet of barges makes it easy to get a great view from a number of popular viewing spots along the bay. For a bit of military history, step aboard the San Diego USS Midway Air Museum, a real aircraft carrier and museum that hosts an annual family picnic-style fireworks viewing. For the best pyrotechnic views, reserve a dinner on the Hornblower 4th of July VIP Fireworks Dinner Cruise — or make reservations at one of the many participating restaurants for dinner and an electric show. During the day, head to San Diego’s Historic Old Town. The highly photogenic neighborhood hosts a Gold Rush-inspired day of egg tosses, cherry pit-spitting contests and contra dancing.
Where to Stay: A slew of points hotels are official Big Bay Boom sponsors this year. Try the brand-new SpringHill Suites by Marriott Downtown/Bayfront from 50,000 Marriott points, or the Hilton San Diego Bayfront.
Additional reporting by Laura Itzkowitz and Melanie Lieberman.
Feature photo by 3dan3 / Getty Images.