Once again, Discover Boating (www.discoverboating.com), a public awareness initiative of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, has put together its top spots for viewing fireworks. With more than 73 million boaters in the United States, the organization argues that many people will be watching fireworks aboard a watercraft. After all, nearly 90 percent of Americans live within an hour of navigable body of water, according to Carl Blackwell, Vice President of marketing and communications for Discover Boating. Blackwell notes that boat ownership was up five percent in 2006, and that viewing fireworks from a boat is a growing trend. "You're removed from the busy schedule on land and able to spend quality time with family and friends," says Blackwell.
Many of the spots that showed up on Discover Boating's list -- New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Los Angeles -- are obvious choices. You can vote for your favorite at the Discover Boating website by July 6; the winner will be announced on July 13. Here are the other destinations that made this year's list. In addition to listing sites for more information about each city's festivity, we've also listed links to tourism bureaus in case you want to check out the area for a little longer.
Town Lake in Austin, Texas is a natural spot for a fireworks display, and you can bring your own boat or even rent a kayak to see the festivities from the lake. Or you can bring a blanket, pack up a picnic basket and camp out early while the Austin Symphony, the organizers and producers of the event, plays a concert of patriotic favorites.
Head to Memphis, Tennessee for the Independence Day Red White and Blue celebration, produced by the Beale Street Merchants Association. The party is full of great food, an antique car show, and live music; Beale Street after all, is the place where W.C. Handy wrote the first blues song and home to the Memphis in May music extravaganza. Watch the fireworks display over the Mississippi River.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin was named Discover Boating's 2006 Top City to Watch Fourth of July Fireworks from a boat, and the city actually has two fireworks displays. The fourth of July is smack in the middle of the city's 40th annual Summerfest, which starts June 28 with its own Big Bang display at 10:30pm. Summerfest runs through July 8, with appearances from The Black Crowes, Steely Dan, the Fray, and Tool, among others. Gather on the shores of Lake Michigan for the U.S. Bank fireworks; from a boat you can get a great view.
Although Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is a beach-and-golf destination close to the ocean, the fireworks take place a little bit inland at the Broadway at the Beach, a multiplex with shopping, dining, a miniature golf course, and an IMAX theater. You can spend all evening wandering around here -- the multiplex wraps around the 23-acre lake -- so any spot is a good spot to view the display.
St. Paul, Minnesota's "Taste of Minnesota" takes place from June 29-July 4 on Harriet Island. Watch the fireworks every night, including July 4, from a boat on the Mississippi River. Don't miss the Spammobile, which will roam around with miniature spamburgers. Yes, that's spam-hamburgers. Musical acts include George Thorogood and the Destroyers, the Village People, the Charlie Daniels Band, and more.
There are plenty of activities in Tacoma, Washington, during the 4th of July holiday but the Freedom Fair at Ruston Way waterfront stretches for about two miles and includes eight stages of entertainment, food, arts and crafts, and a pole vault competition on the beach. The Tacoma Air show starts at 1:30 and Emerald Queen Grande Finale fireworks extravaganza caps off the festivities in the evening.
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