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CityPASS Home  »  City Traveler Blog  »  Best Cities to See 4th of July Fireworks

Best Cities to See 4th of July Fireworks

Since July 4, 1777 -- the first birthday of the United States of America -- fireworks have been a part of our nation’s celebratory fabric. The Congressionally-sponsored fireworks were commissioned to celebrate the first anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and delivered a rousing light show to the colonists in a patriotic pyrotechnic display. At the conclusion of the very first 4th of July celebration, 13 rocket fireworks were launched into the air -- one for each of the 13 original colonies.

Today, the tradition continues nearly 240 years later. However, what was once 13 colonies has grown to 50 states -- each with their own way of celebrating America’s birthday. Here are our picks for five of the most astounding and entertaining fireworks displays scattered throughout the U.S.

Chicago’s Navy Pier

Chi-Town loves its fireworks. In fact, they love them so much that the Navy Pier regularly hosts summer fireworks twice a week during the summer months on every Wednesday and Saturday of the week. These fireworks displays are set to the tune of music, making it both a visual and audio experience.

However, Chicago’s 4th of July fireworks display is truly a sight to see. This year’s display is sponsored by the Illinois Lottery. Families, couples, and groups of friends can experience this patriotic exhibition in a number of ways. Whether you choose to see the spectacular light show from atop the Chicago Navy Pier’s famous 15-story high ferris wheel, or from the deck of a sightseeing cruise vessel on the water, is entirely up to you.

Washington DC FireworksPhoto: dpbirds

Washington, D.C.

Colorful, celebratory explosions rain down on the nation’s capital for a glorious 17 minutes every July 4. Washington’s annual celebration costs roughly $255,000 with 66,000 pounds of fireworks launched from the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. The display can be seen for miles around the Beltway, although those who are lucky enough to see the Independence Day fireworks from the National Mall are typically afforded the best view.

Seattle / Tacoma Freedom Fair

A short drive from nearby Seattle, the Tacoma Freedom Fair has been an annual event that’s thrilled countless residents of Washington state for over 30 years. The event begins early in the day, at 10 a.m. with an action-packed air show, live music, food fair, and exhibits -- all leading up to a 10 p.m. blast-off of what’s been heralded as the Pacific Northwest’s largest fireworks show over the Puget Sound.

Macy's FireworksPhoto: John Dalton

New York City’s Macy’s Fireworks Display

Thanksgiving and Christmas aren’t the only two holidays that the legendary New York City department store celebrates! Beyond Macy’s turkey day celebration, they also put on one of the most amazing firework displays in the country. NYC is home to the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but Macy’s also puts on one of the most amazing fireworks displays throughout the U.S. Previously, Macy’s annual 4th of July fireworks spectacular lit up the New York skyline over the Hudson River. This year, it’s taking the show on the road to fill the sky above the East River with a breathtaking array of multi-colored bursts. This change of scenery marks the first time in five years that New Yorkers in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn will be able to have a view of the 4th of July extravaganza.

San Francisco FireworksPhoto: David Yu

San Francisco at the Fisherman’s Wharf

One of the longest fireworks shows in the country, San Francisco’s Independence Day celebration at Fisherman’s Wharf is jammed with 21 minutes of non-stop pyrotechnics, attracting over 600,000 viewers. The celebration kicks off at Pier 39 with live music in the early part of the day. At 9:30 p.m., the fantastic light show begins as the fireworks chart their course from Municipal Pier to light up the waterfront for miles around. Don't miss this event, known as one of the most grandiose San Francisco attractions in July.

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