July is arguably one of the best months to be in the United States—the days are long and sizzling, the spirits are high, and fireworks are officially in-season. Fourth of July celebrations are around every corner, but there are some that stand out from the rest. Ahead, bucket list-worthy July 4 festivities well worth the crowds.
Fireworks at Centennial Park in Atlanta
No matter what your holiday vice—amazing food, enough live music to make your ears ring until the next 4th, or a festive beverage (or five)—Atlanta has got plenty entertainment come Independence Day. Of course, the fireworks are the real reason to brave the heat past dusk.
Kaboom Town in Addison, Texas
You can expect all of the usual Fourth of July accouterment at this celebration just north of Dallas, but make sure to stick around for the fly-bys from the World Class Warbirds—vintage military aircrafts.
Dinner Cruise Near Navy Pier in Chicago
If you're looking for something a little quieter, but still want to take in a grade-A fireworks show, a dinner cruise near Chicago's Navy Pier should be on your list. There are a number of cruise liners to choose from for your holiday float—check out Odyssey Cruises, Spirit Cruises, Shoreline Sightseeing, and Valara Yacht Charter, to name a few.
Go Fourth on the River Extravaganza in New Orleans
Combine the French Quarter, fireworks, live patriotic music, and fireworks cruises, and you've got what could be the best Independence Day plans ever. If you're visiting New Orleans this July 4, make sure to take a ferry to Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World; here you can go behind the scenes to see how the city's vibrant parade floats are made.
Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks in New York City
If there ever were a Fourth of July bucket list item, this might be it. Thousands of people perch around New York City's piers and rooftops to catch a glimpse of the Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks show—the United State's largest pyrotechnic display. The show takes place off the East River near the Brooklyn Bridge—plan you seating accordingly, and grab a place early!
Let Freedom Sing in Nashville
Music superstars come together to celebrate the nation's birthday in the most perfect of places: Music City. Sheryl Crowe is the 2016 headliner of this year's Let Freedom Sing celebration in Nashville, joined by Maddie & Tae, Erin McCarley, Andrew Combs, Ruby Amanfu, and the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. Don't miss one of the nation's biggest firework displays. The best part? It's all free.
AmericaFest in Pasadena, California
For this incredible party, the Rose Bowl Stadium fills up with people in red, white, and blue. This year is the 90th anniversary of AmericaFest, so get your tickets early. In the past, spectators have been treated to a motorcycle stunt show, plus crafts and inflatable rides for kids. Go for the festive food and atmosphere, stay for the massive fireworks show that starts at 9 p.m. Military (with a valid ID) can receive up to four free tickets. Regular tickets run $13, and kids under 5 get in free.
Capitol Fourth Celebration in Washington, D.C.
On Independence Day, the East Lawn of the capitol lights up in celebration of the nation's birthday for the annual Capitol Fourth. The entertainment is always top-notch—some previous acts include Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, Little Richard, Tony Bennett, Dolly Parton, The Bee Gees, Little Richard, and Steve Martin. Pro tip: If you're looking to steer clear of the Washington, D.C. crowds, check out the rooftop party at Embassy Row.
Tahoe South's Lights on the Lake in South Lake Tahoe, California
Lights on the Lake was named on of the best Fourth of July celebrations by the Today Show and the American Pyrotechnics Association—and for good reason. The fireworks can be seen all over town, but the event website shares some of the best viewing spots. If you're looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, take a helicopter ride and take the sights in from above.
Wawa Welcome America in Philadelphia
The Welcome America event is far more than an awesome fireworks show (although, it is most definitely that, too). Leading up to Independence Day, the event makers take an opportunity to celebrate Philadelphia, holding local food events, concerts, and movie nights. There's also a storytelling event, called Go 4th and Learn, sharing a series of historical tales focused on Independence Day.
Independence Day Organ Concert in Washington, D.C
If you're looking to take in some tunes outside of the big bash on the East Lawn of the capitol building, head to the annual Independence Day Organ Concert at the Washington National Cathedral. You haven't heard Star Spangled Banner until you've heard it played on an organ.
Erika Owen is the Audience Engagement Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @erikaraeowen.