Who knows what odd demonstrations of patriotism we’ll see this Fourth of July? Considering the country isn’t entirely, ah, united, there’s a chance the typical well-meaning attempt to explode colorful shapes in the sky could be overtaken by protests, counter protests, counter-counter protests, and then a bunch of variously competing declarations of patriotism and meta-patriotism among festival goers.
Our hope, however, is that the special spirit of the Fourth of July will prevail. You know, that magic tingle you feel when you and a crowd of a thousand strangers “Oooh” and “Ahhh” at smiley faces and cowboy hats and those shimmery fireworks that look like Sideshow Bob’s hair? If anything can unite a country as ideologically frayed as a pair of distressed jeans, it’s our national, collective appreciation for shiny things and loud noises.
To steward in at least a little bit of good will, we’ve gathered a bunch of the best Fourth of July celebrations from around the country. But we haven’t stopped there. What you really want to do is find places to drink locally (as most fireworks displays reasonably don’t allow alcohol; something about explosions and intoxication don’t generally mix). Bearing in mind some of these are in big cities, where drinking options are aplenty, we picked out just a few for convenience and America-ness.
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OK, this is a big one, probably broadcast on local network TV. Though if you live in the New York metropolitan area, it’s kind of silly not to stick your head out the window and see how many beautiful explosions money can buy.
Drink At: BinNo220, a winebar in the designated South Street Seaport viewing area; Brooklyn Bridge Garden Bar, not a “discovery” of a bar but a coveted seat in a great viewing area; Alewife in Long Island City for a laid-back craft beer pub scene and easy access to Queens viewing.
Not just things exploding beautifully in the sky, but live music, helmed by the Boston Pops but this year featuring special guests Demi Lovato, Little Big Town, and a Jonas brother. We’re not sure which one, but it’s a Jonas, come on.
Drink At: Cuchi Cuchi, extensive vintage cocktails just across the Mass Ave bridge; CafeArtScience, also across the river, home of freaky cocktail creations by Todd Maul; not the actual “Cheers” interior, but an institution and chill pub a short walk from the festival.
If you’re gonna do big city fireworks, why not do them in the nation’s capitol? It’s seventeen minutes of fireworks launched from the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, visible from a bunch of historic D.C. landmarks and also a few places in Virginia.
Drink At: Off the Record, nearby funky cocktail den; Old Ebbitt Grill for the history, plus raw bar Happy Hour; ChurchKey for the ridiculously well-curated craft beer list.
Small Dallas suburb that explodes—pun intended—come the 4th of July. And that shouldn’t surprise, since the fireworks display is top-notch, the event is unticketed (aka free), and there are food and beverage (including beer and wine) booths on festival grounds. And then there’s the fact that the fireworks are bookeneded by performances by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and something called “Party Machine Band.” (Plus, the name Kaboom Town! is just fantastic.)
Drink At: The festival itself!
A two-day, free music festival in Nashville, aka “Music City.” This year’s headliner is none other than she-who-soaks-up-the-sun, Sheryl Crow. Super family-friendly, plus a massive list of food vendors including some food trucks we wish would wind their way up north after the show…
Drink At: City Winery Nashville, wine and music before even more music; Greenhouse Bar for bacon devilled eggs and actual greenhouse drinking proximate to the venue.
There is such a thing as the American Pyrotechnics Association and they have rated Lights on the Lake one of the top five fireworks displays in the nation. Best part, if you’ve got a boat, you can drift out onto the lake and watch the fireworks twinkle and sprinkle down from above.
Drink At: Himmelhaus for Bavarian pretzels and German beer; Whiskey Dicks for local dive bar flavor plus decent craft beer.
In the town of Marblehead, Mass, they don’t just do fireworks—they illuminate the border of the harbor, created a beautiful glow along the water. Fireworks follow, of course, best seen by a boat (just make sure you’re in the safe zone).
Drink At: Maddie’s Sail Loft for laid-back booze and top-notch New England seafood; Jack-Tar American Tavern for chill, wide-open (even al fresco) dining and drinking (plus “America” is in the name).
When Chicago celebrates, or eats pizza, everything’s a bit bigger. This is the 100 year celebration of Navy Pier, so chances are this year’s fireworks are going to be a bit glitzier and glammier. Bonus points for the ferris wheel and boat cruise viewing spots, not to mention plenty of nearby places to drink.
Drink At: Harry Caray’s Tavern because Will Ferrel, perfect proximity, and an extensive drinks list; GreenRiver for nearby, seriously crafty craft cocktails; The Broken Shaker for cocktails from the Best American Hotel Bar.
Portland knows how to party, with a four-day Fourth weekend blues fest, complete with Zydeco, blues guitar, and something called a harmonica blow-off. Plus, because this is progressive patriotism, the festival benefits the Oregon Food Bank.
Drink At: Thirst Wine Bar & Bistro for creative food and a local-heavy Pacific NW wine list; Multnomah Whiskey Library for more than just (but plenty of) quality whiskey.
Most of us might know Santa Fe better than Las Cruces, but they do the Fourth up right in Las Cruces—a two-day festival (featuring none other than Tony! Toni! Toné! this year) and an electric light parade full of cool glowing floats. Plus fireworks the next day, of course.
Drink At: Bosque Brewing Co. Tap Room for local New Mexico craft beer; Pecan Grill and Brewery for a Spanish BLT and a green chile vodka Bloody Mary.
Header image via abc7ny.com