That can only mean one thing: Boating season is officially upon us. If you’re planning out your on-the-water excursions for the next few months, your fourth of July itinerary is probably top of mind. And to truly enjoy blissful yacht getaways, you need to plan ahead. The open waters aren’t exactly a free for all—to catch a fireworks show on the water, you might need to make a marina reservation, stock your yacht for the trip, and chart out navigation.
Step one, of course, is to hone in on a destination. Are you looking for a low-stakes fourth of July close to home? Or are you hoping to take the week off and sail up the Pacific coast? To help you choose your fourth of July yachting destination, Departures has rounded up the best places to watch Independence Day fireworks from your boat. Not only do these destinations allow yachters to dock on the water for front-row fireworks seats, but they also have plenty going on to keep the whole family entertained.
Miami in the summer is all about their signature latin flavors, cocktails by the beach, and dancing the night away. For a memorable fourth of July on the water, you’ll want to be set up in Biscayne Bay, where they’ll shoot the fireworks off barges over the water. Most people watch from Village Green, but the boats in Biscayne Bay have front row seats.
Charleston, South Carolina
Any excuse to visit Charleston is a good one, and their fourth of July festivities are just one more reason Charleston is such a coveted area. North Charleston’s fireworks are set off from Riverfront Park, which is known for their Greater Charleston Naval Base Memorial. For boaters, you’ll want to scout a spot on the Cooper River, where you’ll have a full view of Riverfront Park.
Taking your family to Maine for a few days in the summer promises a vacation filled with fresh lobster rolls, salty air, and small-town charm. The Kennebunk fireworks are some of the best in the state—they’re launched from Narragansett Point—and boats lining the stretch of the Atlantic by Gooch Beach and Kennebunk Beach have a spectacular view. Leading up to fourth of July, book a few nights at Cliff House Maine for an enviable New England spa experience.
A weekend of sour beers, farm-to-table food, and of course, the Waterfront Blues Festival is what you’ll encounter in Portland for the fourth of July. This year, the Waterfront Blues Festival runs from July 4 to July 7, so you can take in the fireworks from your yacht on the fourth of July, and then head into town to enjoy some live music the next day. There’s plenty of space for boats to anchor on the Willamette River—the fireworks show will be along the west bank of the river.
Cape May, New Jersey
Rent a beach house on the Jersey Shore and post up for a week of Cape May fourth of July festivities. From fresh-shucked oysters at Beach Creek Oyster Bar and Grille to visiting the Cape May Lighthouse, it’s truly a spot that’s fun for all ages. The fourth of July parade along Beach Avenue lights up this historic resort haven, and the fireworks are launched right over the Atlantic.
Savannah heats up in the summer, but it’s also the perfect destination for some classic southern fun. The must-see fourth of July show is at Tybee Island—you’ll want to dock your boat near the eastern beaches of the island to see the fireworks launched from Tybee Beach Pier. Be sure to check out some of Savannah’s best BBQ joints while you’re in town, including Sandfly BBQ and Blowin’ Smoke Southern Cantina.
Annapolis has everything in the summer—a waterfront breeze, crab cakes, and an adorable town to explore. The fourth of July fireworks are launched from a barge in Annapolis Harbor, which is why watching from aboard your boat on the Annapolis Harbor is the best way to see the show. For a terrific Annapolis dining experience, check out Carrol’s Creek Cafe along the water.
Marina Del Rey, California
Think Los Angeles is too congested to find a relaxing fireworks show? Think again. In Marina Del Rey, you can pull your boat into the marina and watch one of the best LA fourth of July displays. Pro-tip: For a spectacular night on the yacht, pick up a few “Trust Me” boxes from Sugarfish Sushi and enjoy a perfectly packaged, high-end meal on the water before the fireworks start.
About half an hour north of Seattle, Everett sits right along the Puget Sound. Choosing the Everett fireworks over the Seattle fireworks may mean you’ll have less boat traffic to reckon with. Best viewing from your yacht is from the Puget Sound by Jetty Island. And because you’re in boat country, you’ll want to get the lay of the land and secure any necessary reservations ahead of time.
Visiting Hingham in the summer is like taking a Cape Cod vacation without encountering the hordes of people who flock to the Cape in the summer. Hingham is the quintessential seaside Massachusetts town, from the colonial mansions to the waves crashing against the rocky beaches. The fourth of July fireworks are launched from Button Island, and anchoring your boat right in Hingham Harbor promises your whole family a great view.