Going to be in Beantown for the 4th of July? Check out our handy guide for celebrating our nation’s birthday in the beautiful historic city of Boston. From fireworks and whale watching cruises to walking tours and bike rides, you’ll be out and about and all around! Enjoy the best Boston attractions on your summer vacation for less with Smart Destinations.
Each year the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular is the centerpiece of Boston’s 4th of July celebrations. A free, fabulous live music extravaganza with orchestral performances by the renowned Boston Pops and accompanying vocal performances by local and national stars begins at 8:30 pm Friday, July 4th, on the Charles River Esplanade. For a full list of songs performed by the Boston Pops, check out the Firework Music score. If you’re in town earlier, there’s also a free concert on Thursday, July 3rd (although it won’t have any fireworks along with it!)
The fireworks themselves will be shot from a number of massive barges that float in the middle of the Charles River. Expect a stunning, half hour-long display of colorful fireworks, set off to finely choreographed music. Keep an eye out for special red, white, and blue fireworks! Bring a camera to capture a few shots of this iconic Boston attraction.
If you’re looking to watch the fireworks and/or the music performance live, you have a few options. Since the band shell will be set up on the Esplanade, you can grab a blanket and some chairs and set up shop on the Esplanade itself, the Boston Common or in the Boston Public Gardens (Charles MGH, Park Street or Boylston T stops) to claim a space. Be warned – this is an extremely popular way to celebrate the event and to save a spot you’ll need to get there early in the day. For directions to the Esplanade, in addition to info on parking and other important details, visit the Boston 4th of July event website.
If you can’t or don’t want to devote an entire day to picnicking in the name of claiming that perfect spot, you have several other options. You can set up along the Charles River on the Cambridge side – an especially popular option with families and locals, as it’s often closer to many of the hotels and you can leave after the fireworks much more efficiently than if you were stuck in the massive crowds on the Common. MIT’s campus is a prime location for viewers – conveniently located just off the Kendall Square T stop, it’s also a fantastic view of the fireworks. If your Cambridge hotel is in the right spot, you’ll even get a great view from your balcony or window. Insider tip: the T is free after the fireworks to ensure that everyone can get home or back to their hotels safely and conveniently!
But the fireworks don’t start until 10:30 pm – what to do the rest of the day? Don’t worry, there are plenty of festive Boston attractions to round out your July 4th celebrations. Since July in Boston will be quite warm, you’ll enjoy spending much of your day outdoors. Check out a Boston bike rental and cruise along the Charles River bike path to watch the firemen and celebration officials set up the fireworks. Or, enjoy a bit of the water yourself with a USS Constitution Cruise through the Boston Harbor.
You could also opt to explore the wealth of historical attractions in Beantown – after all, Boston played an integral role in the American Revolution and our move towards independence. Take a Freedom Trail Tour to retrace the footsteps of our early patriots and important historical landmarks, including the Paul Revere House, the Old North Church, the Old South Meeting House, and the Old State House Museum. Remember to check online or call ahead to confirm that each attraction is open on July 4th – while most will be open to cater to visitors in town for the holiday, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. And if, at the end of it all, the kids are just too tired to make it to the fireworks spectacular, you can always tune into the CBS starting at 8 pm to watch the show from the comfort of your hotel or home.
So come to Boston to celebrate the 4th of July and be part of the holiday magic in the place where it all began!