The 4th of July is almost here, and the weekend leading up to it is the peak of summer activities for many. Millions of people visit the lake, beach, or campground to celebrate and spend time outdoors.
Watching a fireworks display is a classic summer tradition, and in many places, you can enjoy the show without ever leaving your boat or worrying about reserving seating on the beach. If you’re planning to experience a show from the water this year, we have some tips to ensure everyone has a safe and fun time! We’ll also suggest several shows you might consider viewing from your boat.
Before the Show
A bit of preparation can really pay off leading up to an evening fireworks show. When you’re cruising the lake earlier in the day, make sure you know where the fireworks will be released from so you can scout out a few spots for the best view. Depending on the size of the body of water, look for an area of protected water where wind and waves won’t jostle you around, and you can stay easily anchored in place.
Any time you know you’ll be out on the water after dark, it’s a good idea to double check that all lighting on your boat is working properly. Be sure your boat is outfitted with all the lighting required by the United States Coast Guard for safely operating a boat at night.
Make sure you have life jackets for everyone, as well as an on-board fire extinguisher in case of emergency. It is also strongly advised to make arrangements for your pet to stay home or at someone else’s house instead of bringing them out on the boat for the show. If they react poorly to the fireworks, you don’t want to have a frantic animal to tend to.
The 4th of July is a social holiday, so make sure you’re prepared, but have fun! Plan to raft-up with other boats—have everyone bring a dish to pass or enjoy themed boat drinks (always remembering to designate a sober captain). Lastly, don’t forget to follow the raft-up rules on your lake and have the appropriate equipment to do so safely.
During and After the Show
This is an easy one, relax and enjoy! Take in the show and enjoy the unique view from the water. Have some fun finger food and red, white, or blue drinks to celebrate the occasion. If you have a grill on board, fire it up and get some hot dogs and burgers going. Be respectful of other vessels around you, and remember to leave the fireworks to the professionals.
Once the show is over, pack up any food of beverages so they don’t spill while underway. If you’re able to, hang out for a while afterwards to let the lake and boat launch or marina clear out and avoid the mad rush of people trying to get off the water.
Popular Fireworks Destinations
There are tons of firework shows across the US that can be viewed from the water! Check out a few of the most popular ones to add to your bucket list:
- Washington D.C. – Where better to start than our nation’s capital. Every year, there’s a fireworks show at the National Mall, and the best viewing spot is from your boat on the Potomac River. For more information on this show check out the National Parks Service info page.
- Tampa Bay, FL – Tampa’s Boom on the Bay is back, and is packed full of live entertainment, food, and of course fireworks! Get a great spot on the bay and enjoy the show!
- Chicago, IL – Take your boat on Lake Michigan and catch the fireworks show on Chicago’s iconic Navy Pier!
- Seattle, WA – If you are in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle is the place to be for a great 4th of July Fireworks Show on Lake Union!
Check your local lake(s) to find a fireworks show, or take a trip and go see one of the iconic shows above. Either way, we’re sure you’ll love experiencing fireworks on the water with your family and friends and will want to make it your new 4th of July tradition.