The 15 Best Small-Town July Fourth Fireworks
It's not just big cities like Boston and New York that have stunning light shows for the Fourth. Have a good old-fashioned Main Street, USA, celebration complete with prime pyrotechnics at these destinations.
St. Augustine, Florida
Historic St. Augustine holds the honor of being the longest continually-inhabited settlement in the United States, so it's fitting the town waves its flag high on the Fourth. The party kicks off with an evening concert of big band and patriotic songs. Then, get ready for the big event, billed as one of the largest and best on the East Coast. The show features 5,000 individual shells and explosions ranging from 100 to 2,000 feet high, set to music—see if you can guess what each type of firework display is called. The action takes place over Matanzas Bay and the historic Castillo de San Marcos—spectators can watch from anywhere along the streets and the Bridge of Lions, all closed to traffic.
One of the five original points of entry for the U.S. colonies, Brunswick is steeped in history and historic architecture. So it's not surprising that the small town pulls out big stops for the Fourth. Head to Mary Ross Waterfront Park for a Southern celebration of family-friendly games like sack races and tug-of-war; plus free watermelon, a spectacular sunset, and finally, 30 minutes of fireworks over the East River and Oglethorpe Bay.
Virginia City, Nevada
This Old West mining town also remembers its history on July Fourth, with an old-time parade complete with Victorian costumes and even a shootout. Live music and train rides round out the festivities, but the biggest thrill comes after dark: An amazing 30-minute fireworks display that echoes off Mt. Davidson and Six-Mile Canyon, visible from anywhere in town. You'll feel it in your bones! If you're wondering how fireworks can make such loud booms, here's the answer along with 12 other fascinating facts you never knew about fireworks.
Estes Park, Colorado
The gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park is the perfect base for visitors' July Fourth getaways. This mountain town has a car show, a patriotic concert, and the "Big Bang" concert, this year featuring a Beatles' tribute band and an Andrews Sisters-like harmony singing trio, lead up to the main event. Put your blanket down in Stanley Park, along Lake Estes Trail, or near the marina for the best views of the spectacular display over Lake Estes—but really anywhere you can see the lake, you can see the show. If you're on a trail, be sure to bring a flashlight for the walk back.
Mammoth Lakes, California
Believe it or not, you can actually spend July Fourth skiing at Mammoth Mountain in the Sierra Nevadas. If that wasn't enough of a draw to get you to this scenic location for Independence Day, there's also a parade, a concert featuring a 40-piece orchestra, and, of course, the fireworks show itself. The stunning "Sky Concert" features more than 700 shells for exploding for 20 minutes over Crowley Lake. For more pyrotechnic spectacles, check out the best Fourth of July fireworks in every state.