Many of us choose to avoid the crowds and watch Independence Day fireworks from afar – way afar. We can catch the Macy’s New York City fireworks or the Boston Pops Spectacular on TV, but nothing quite compares to seeing it in person. No matter how many fireworks shows you’ve seen, you’ll always be awed at just how loud and big and bright they can be. If it’s been a while since you’ve gone out to see the sky light up, let us suggest a few cities you haven’t seen on TV that are worth braving the crowds for.

San Francisco, California
If you don’t mind taking a gamble on the weather, one of the best shows is in San Francisco. Although some years the fog or rain makes visibility a problem, the years that the skies are clear provide an incredible show for the whole city. Fireworks go off at 9:30 from the Municipal Pier and from barges north of Pier 39. Because of its hills, virtually all of the city makes for a great viewing spot – try the Wharf, Ghirardelli Square, Coit Tower, or anywhere along the waterfront.

Las Vegas, Nevada
In a city that sparkles at all hours of the night, Las Vegas somehow steps up its game when it comes to America’s birthday. While most cities have one fireworks show, in Vegas the casinos seem to battle it out – all to the benefit of the spectators. Usually there will be fireworks shot off from the Stratosphere and Caesar’s Palace, but who knows what other surprises you’ll see. Since the 4th falls on a Friday, you can expect the parties to begin on Wednesday and roll through the weekend.

Niagara Falls
While Niagara Falls might not have the biggest fireworks display, it’s still a sight to behold. Throughout the summer there is a fireworks show every Friday, Sunday, and holidays – including Independence Day and Canada Day on July 1. Apart from the fireworks, the falls are illuminated in colorful lights through the night that give it a magical feel. You can see the fireworks from Queen Victoria Park in Canada, from Prospect Point in New York, or from the rainbow bridge.