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Best Places to Celebrate July 4th

The 4th of July is all about parades, fireworks, and family gatherings as we celebrate America's independence. While your hometown may have its own celebration, here are some places that overachieve in celebrating the holiday.


1. Washington, DC- I lived in Washington for 30 years so I admit to some bias, but the Nation's Capitol knows how to celebrate the 4th. The day starts with a parade down Independence Avenue with participants from all the states and territories. The National Symphony performs a free concert in the evening on the lawn of the US Capitol. You need to bring your lawn chair, some snacks and plan to arrive early. Check with the National Park Service to find out security and other restrictions because they change every year. The evening ends with a spectacular fireworks display. If you can't get near the Capitol, watch from the National Mall or across the river at the Iwo Jima Memorial. Or you can take one of the many dinner cruises and see the display from the Potomac River. Watching the fireworks exploding over the Washington Monument still gives me chills.


2. Chicago - During the day, the Navy Pier has live music and BBQ. In the evening head to Grant Park for a free concert. There are several festivals in Chicago before and after the 4th including the Eyes to the Skies and the Windy City Ribfest so you can spend several days enjoying all the festivities. The rooftop of the Navy Pier is the best place to watch the fireworks.


3. San Diego - San Diego is home to several military bases and does its best to show its patriotic pride. Each year the city holds its Big Bay Boom touted as the largest fireworks display in Southern California. The show can be seen from five locations including Shelter Island, Harbor Island, North Embarcadero, Coronado Ferry Landing, and Convention Center Terrace. If you own a boat, you can even observe the show in the water but you must remain within the 300-yard safety zones around the barges. In addition, the San Diego Symphony Pops hosts a free concert at the Embarcadero Marina.


4. New Orleans - The Big Easy is always up for a party and the 4th of July is no different. In addition to all the specials at the restaurants and bars in the French Quarter, the city hosts the Go 4th on the River, NOLA Fireworks show. The city puts on not one but two fireworks displays at the same, in the form of dueling barges on the Mississippi River. The show is also synchronized with patriotic music! Grab your friends and some lawn chairs and find a spot along the river to catch a remarkable view. Some other great spots for viewing the show include Woldenberg Park, the Moon Walk, or across the river in Algiers.


5. New York City - You may not know it, but New York City was our nation's first capital and still has several Revolutionary War sites to get you in the Independence Day spirit. You can start the day by visiting locations such as St. Paul’s Chapel, Fraunces Tavern, Fort Tryon Park, or you can take a free ferry ride to Staten Island. Then it's time for the Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks who in the East River in Midtown Manhattan. The show features a lengthy firework display along with synchronized music. There are plenty of places to catch a view of the show but some of the best spots include Williamsburg and Greenpoint waterfronts, FDR Drive, on one of New York City’s rooftop bars, or on a boat.


Wherever you choose to spend your 4th of July, Happy Independence Day!