With apologies in advance to all the dogs out there – one of the highlights of most people’s summers is fireworks displays. Coastal towns often use their harbors for a safer, wider viewed launching platform and this means boaters get a front row seat. Many times you need not even leave your slip or mooring, but can sit aboard with friends and a few cocktails and enjoy from the comfort of your own berth.
Navigating at night is not easy for all mariners, even in the best conditions – so if you do cast off the dock lines – be extra careful out there and lookout for reckless boaters. And certainly don’t be one yourself, please! Designate a skipper!
So here is a little ‘insider’s’ guide to the best spots we know of for watching from your boat! We are borrowing some insight from Boats.com blogger, Carol Cronin, who consulted with Kristin at TotalBoat Show about her fave locations for waterfront viewing. Add your own harbor or favorite spot in the comments below! And thanks, Carol!
From Coconut Grove, on the shores of Biscayne Bay, a boater can see three to four different displays. The closest is in Peacock Park, where you can also enjoy an Old Fashioned Picnic at the Barnacle State Park. (Read more about this precious piece of Florida’s yesterday: The Tenacious Barnacle of Coconut Grove.)
According to the locals, Annapolis and Baltimore have the best fireworks displays in the state. The Annapolis July 4 website lists several great viewing areas, including “aboard a boat in the Annapolis harbor.”
Once darkness falls during the long fourth of July weekend, fireworks are visible up and down Narragansett Bay. This year, Bristol will host its fireworks on July 3, the night before the historic Bristol 4th of July Parade (the oldest in the nation at 230). The rockets blast off from Poppasquash Road, at the head of the harbor. According to local Kristin Browne, the best spot to watch is “from close to—or at—Independence Park. They usually have a symphony first that leads into fireworks. Any spot in the harbor is great for viewing.”
Farther south, Newport and Jamestown often schedule their fireworks on different nights, but this year both will go off on July 4th. Newport’s is usually bigger; the size and duration of the Jamestown display varies from year to year, since it is funded by local donations and a new-for-2015 Jamestown Rocket Hogs GoFundMe page. As the Hogs say… “Send us your money, and we’ll blow it up!” (Update: Jamestown’s Rocket ‘Hogs have changed the date and will now blow up your money on July 5th.)
Boston Harbor is another spot where multiple displays are visible at once. Local sailor Linda Epstein usually watches all of them from her family’s house in Hull, MA, on the south shore. “Hull is in a unique spot for fireworks. You can look out over Mass Bay and see displays from Boston to the North Shore. Of course, fireworks on the Charles River with music by the Boston Pops is hard to beat.”
The Cape is a hotspot for many fireworks displays and all are obviously along the beaches and harbor fronts. Falmouth always has a barge out on Vineyard Sound that they launch from you can tune in on the radio and listen to musical accompaniment. Provincetown is also a great spot and boat trips are available for viewing out on the water with a few less people crowding your view. Both Falmouth and Provincetown are doing their displays on the evening of the 4th. More Cape locations are listed here.
As you would expect, the Texans do fireworks bigger and better than anyone—and more often than most, at least in Kemah, on Galveston Bay. According to resident Watt Duffy, you can watch fireworks “every Friday night during the summer, and hundreds of boats go out to watch. And they have a fantastic show for the 4th.” For more information about these “Fireworks Fridays,” visit the Kemah Boardwalk website.
The two biggest Bays on the west coast, San Diego and San Francisco, both provide plenty of fireworks excitement. San Diego’s Seaworld has an almost nightly display over Mission Bay during the summer. And according to local Diana Waterbury, “July 4 is spectacular.” Visit Big Bay Boom for more info.
The natural ampitheatre of San Francisco is perfect for fireworks viewing from ashore or afloat. The rockets are launched from the end of the Municipal Pier and from barges north of Pier 39. You can let someone else worry about the traffic and navigation by joining one of Blue and Gold’s special fireworks cruises, which leave right from Pier 39 and include a family-friendly non-alcoholic option.
Have a SAFE and Fun 4th of July Weekend and boat responsibly. It can get nuts out there and it’s up to each one of us to be a responsible skipper. Enjoy! And comment below with your favorite spot to watch your fireworks display!