The fireworks shows of cities like NYC and Washington DC unquestionably earn their TV broadcasts every Fourth of July. But while their spectators must face seas of traffic or watch from afar, spectacular small town fireworks displays light up the sky above festivals, parades and more modest crowds all over Main Street USA. To get the same explosive show with all the music, patriotism, and fun as our nation’s capital without the big city hassle, check out some of our favorite small town shows this Fourth of July.
After a breezy day at Wrightsville Beach, head to historic downtown Wilmington for food and live music along the Riverwalk at Water Street. At 9:05, watch the sky over the WWII battleship North Carolina for a booming show that bounces off the Cape Fear River below.
Bristol lives and breathes Fourth of July with the longest running Independence Day observance in the country. The town celebrates all year long with bigger events leading up to the 4th, like pageants, parades, contests, a half marathon and more. But mark the even calendar–their fireworks start at 9:30 on the third, not the fourth, over Bristol Harbor.
If you can’t make it to Bristol on the third, Newport’s July Fourth show starts at 9:15 over the harbor, and Jamestown’s July 5th show kicks off at 9 over East Ferry Beach, both shows lighting up the water in front of a stunning Newport Bridge backdrop.
It’s only fitting that the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame exudes Americana, especially on Independence Day. Take part in any of the many events in and around town during the day, then take a little drive over to Glimmerglass State Park for fireworks over Otsego Lake at dusk.
ESTES PARK, CO
Celebrate America’s independence in the heart of the Rockies with a pancake breakfast, car shows, live music, a rodeo, and plenty of outdoor adventures, then feel the fireworks in your bones as they echo off the Rocky Mountains over Lake Estes at 9 pm.
ST. AUGUSTINE, FL
St. Augustine’s bayfront makes for a perfect historic locale to watch one of the largest fireworks displays on the east coast as they sparkle above Castillo de San Marcos starting at 9:30.
Eight different fireworks displays light up the sky over the Hawaiian city on the Fourth, each providing a spectacular show by land or by sea. For a double feature, head over to Kailua Beach Park for their annual Twilight Airshow followed by fireworks at 8 pm.
Skip the Boston traffic and instead head for one of the darker corners of American history for a great fireworks show you won’t have to hunt for. Park your chair at Salem Maritime National Historic Site for an explosive show over the harbor.
MONTE RIO, CA
Make your way to Monte Rio Beach on July third for a parade of boats decorated with lights starting at dusk, then hang around for a sparkling fireworks show over the Lower Russian River in this outdoorsy corner of Sonoma County.
STONE MOUNTAIN PARK, GA
There’s a good reason nearby Atlanta residents pick Stone Mountain Park’s fireworks over a big city show: All four nights between July 2 and July 5, the park puts on a spectacular laser show on the side of Stone Mountain followed by a booming fireworks display.