10 Best Cities to Watch Fourth of July Fireworks by Boat

When it comes to fireworks, Independence Day celebrations are hard to beat. As great as they are on land, though, they’re even better from the water. Here are 10 of the best boat-friendly places for watching fireworks this Fourth of July.

Boston, Massachusetts

boston fireworks fourth of july
Fireworks over Boston by Mike Halsall on Flickr/Creative Commons

The world-famous Boston Pops holds free concerts on July 3 and 4, followed by the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular at 10:30 p.m. on the 4th. All take place on the Esplanade alongside the Charles River.


Chicago, Illinois

The pyrotechnics show off Navy Pier lights up Lake Michigan. If you’re close enough to shore, you might hear the music to which the spectacle is synchronized. Navy Pier hosts fireworks shows every Wednesday and Saturday night this summer, too.


Kemah, Texas

Grab the kids and spend the day at the Kemah Boardwalk before returning to your boat at the adjacent Kemah Marina to watch the fireworks. The show, over Galveston Bay, starts at 9:30 p.m. Like Chicago’s Navy Pier, the Boardwalk hosts fireworks every Friday through July.


Lake Tahoe, California & Nevada Border

The Lights on the Lake literally lights up the southern waters of Lake Tahoe. Between the highly touted display and the Sierra Nevada Mountains, it’s no wonder the show is considered among the country’s best.


Marina del Rey, Califorina

This 20-minute spectacle attracts onlookers from miles around. Start time is 9 p.m. Check the Visit Marina del Rey website for tips on when to arrive, as well as options for kayak and paddleboard rentals if you decide to spend the day.


Miami, Florida

miami fourth of july fireworks
By Louis Arroyave on Flickr/Creative Commons

South Floridians have lots of options when it comes to boat-friendly places for watching fireworks. The Fire on the Fourth Festival, over the Atlantic Ocean in North Miami Beach, is popular. You can also raft up with fellow boaters at Miami Marine Stadium.


New York, New York

The largest display in all of the USA is the annual Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks. Because the show encompasses the Brooklyn Bridge as well as four barges along the East River, there are lots of good vantage points.


Rockaway Beach, Oregon

USA Today names Rockaway Beach’s celebration one of the nation’s best. The city, in northern Oregon, sends up the fireworks after a day marked by a big parade, wiener dog races, beach treasure hunts, and more.


Seattle, Washington

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Seafair Festival, so you know the fireworks over Lake Union will be extra special. They start at 10:15 p.m., visible from both the Gas Works Park and Lake Union Park areas.


Tampa, Florida

Tampa’s new mayor has big plans for the first city-run Boom by the Bay celebration, encompassing four different fireworks displays over 2.5 miles along the water. Since the event was just announced this month, keep tabs on the official Facebook page.


Washington, D.C.

washington dc fourth of july fireworks
Photo Courtesy of the Library of Congress

This year the iconic show, which promises to be bigger and longer, too, takes place from West Potomac Park, rather than the Washington Monument. That’s great news for boaters. You’ll be in good company on the Potomac River, since several sightseeing boats organize trips, too.

Regardless of where you go, be mindful of possible Coast Guard waterway restrictions, and remember to follow these simple safe boating tips. Have a happy and safe 4th!


Category: Overnight Cruising , Day Cruising