One of my fondest fourth of July memories was from years ago. My cousin was born on the summer holiday, so normally we’d celebrate his birthday along with it.

And what better way to celebrate than getting a bunch of fireworks of your own and blowing them up? My older brother always had an affinity for them ever since we were kids, and in preparation of this particular July 4th, we found ourselves a roadside warehouse in Pennsylvania selling huge packs of the stuff. We went there with a few hundred bucks and loaded up on recreational explosives.

After a few minutes of blowing off some bottle rockets, roman candles and sparklers, we had barely scratched the surface of our stash, which stood squarely in the middle of the yard. It was time to bring out the big guns, my older brother decided. So he picked out this one pallet, which contained 8 tubes of dazzling fireworks that shot up into the air on a timed release. We weren’t prepared for what happened next.

The multi-tube topped over, and, of course, pointed towards the horrified party guests (myself included) that soon realized the fireworks weren’t shooting up into the air, but at all of us. I turned over a kiddie pool and pulled two of my younger cousins behind it. We all crouched as fireworks shot at us, bouncing off of the kiddie pool, people’s sandals, elbows, the grill—hell, I’m pretty sure some of it got in the potato salad, but a few sparks also got into the stash of recreational explosives sitting in the middle of the yard. That was an interesting next 120 seconds. After our dramatic reenactment of Normandy was over and the smoke cleared, everyone burst out laughing while checking themselves and their kids for burns. The cops showed up and we received a citation — thankfully they found the entire thing hilarious.

So, as fun as blowing fireworks up is, sometimes it’s better to just let the professionals handle all of the festivities. And if watching incredible displays is your thing, check out some of the most legendary shows the U-S-of-A has to offer.

NYC – The Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular

4 strategic points located near the East River provide prime views of the annual spectacle. The show will start after sundown, around 9:15pm, so if you want a good spot, check out the locations here and arrive a little early to secure the best vantage point for the fireworks.

Los Angeles – Dodgers Game

There are fewer things more ‘Murican than watching a baseball game, but seeing that game followed by a bangin’ display of fireworks only amps up the American-ness. Grand Park LA usually throws a shindig with food, live music, and an awesome fireworks show if you’re down to boogie there this July 4th.

Dallas – Fair Park Fourth

Dallas’ Fair Park celebration is ginormous and if you’re in the area and are thinking about where to go on the Fourth, it’s a pretty awesome option.

Chicago – Navy Pier

Pretty much the end-all-be-all for July 4th celebrations in the city. If you’re looking for an amazing fireworks show, delicious food, and a great vibe, Navy Pier’s the place to be.

Atlanta – Fantastic Fourth Celebration

Stone Mountain Park has four nights of celebrations going on for the Fantastic Fourth which includes laser shows, and a 50 cannon salute before every show.

Washington D.C. – Lincoln Memorial

There are tons of places to check out in Washington D.C. to watch spectacular fireworks shows, but in front of the Lincoln Memorial is probably the best vantage point for anyone trying to get some serious eye candy of the dazzly gunpowder variety the night of the 4th.

Seattle – Seafair Summer Fourth

Booze. Food. Fireworks. ‘Nuff said. There’s also priority seating for people who want to cough up cash for primo views, but general admission is free.

Pittsburgh – Downtown

Jeff Goldbum’s hometown has tons of great spots to watch the fireworks, but festivities start early in Downtown Pittsburgh. The all-day event will feature activities from 12pm up until the fireworks show begins at 9.35pm. Get a full list of what to do in the city here.

North Carolina – Fireworks Friday Night

North Carolina’s got a ton of great spots to watch fireworks, a local favorite is the town of Valdese’s Fireworks Friday Night from 7pm-11pm, check it out here.

Are there any particularly epic 4th of July fireworks celebrations you think are missing from this list?

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