The Best Cities to Celebrate the Fourth in Your Boat

There won’t be nearly as many fireworks for Fourth of July celebrations this year, but there are still plenty of ways to safely enjoy some great cities and celebrate Independence Day on the water. Most of the larger fireworks shows are canceled in an effort to discourage large gatherings, but many smaller displays are still going on and watchable from a distance. Even if you can’t catch a light show, you can still enjoy an onboard barbecue, some adrenal-pumping watersports, or just a casual cruise to take in the beautiful skylines of some of America’s greatest cities.

Chicago, Illinois

Chicago is legendary when it comes to celebrations. With some restrictions, Navy Pier’s pavilion, beer garden, shops, and food corridor are now open to visitors, but the attraction’s acclaimed fireworks have been scrapped for this year. It’s still a stunning sight to cruise Lake Michigan and admire the lights of the Centennial Wheel and legendary skyline, and a few small pyrotechnic displays will launch from the area and can be viewed from a safe distance.

Tampa Bay, Florida

Most years, waterfront displays in the Tampa Bay area are plentiful and dazzling. Even with many canceled and postponed-until-Labor-Day events, you can catch a number of smaller shows in the area as you cruise from Tampa to St. Petersburg. Or just enjoy the city lights as you explore the palm tree-lined shores of the charming towns and harbors.

Marina del Rey, California

Sadly, the enchanting Marina del Rey fireworks display will not light up the night sky in 2020, but the area is still a delightful place to spend the Fourth. There are a few smaller displays going on in the Southern California region, or you can always check out our post on the area and plan your July 2021 visit.

Seattle, Washington

Seattle has an impressive skyline that’s made even better by a beautiful fireworks presentation that illuminates the Space Needle. The sky will stay dark this year, but you can still cruise Puget Sound or Lake Washington, take in the sensational scenery, watch a rebroadcast of epic shows from years past, or tune in to a livestream of a concert by local band Black Diamond Junction followed by a fireworks show over Port Angeles, Wash., harbor.

Boston, Massachusetts

The legendary Boston Pops concert and fireworks show is taking the year off, but Boston is still a wonderful city to explore by boat and honor the most patriotic of holidays. We recommend cruising the rivers and harbors and joining the USS Constitution Museum’s virtual celebration which includes a 21-gun salute and tour of the famous ship. Or crank the speakers with a prerecorded “Boston Pops Salute to Our Heroes” concert to honor the frontline workers who have lost their lives during the pandemic.