The Ultimate Guide to a Dazzling Independence Day in Boston

From festivals to your own viewing spot by kayak on the Charles, here’s how to celebrate Fourth of July in Boston this year.

Fireworks over Boston
Fireworks over Boston | Mike Halsall/Flickr
Fireworks over Boston | Mike Halsall/Flickr

There’s no better place to celebrate Fourth of July than in one of America’s most historic cities. Boston has landmark taverns said to be frequented by Paul Revere himself still open today, along with plenty more venues where to learn about the founding of America. And this year, we have nearly a week-long extravaganza to look forward to with festivities kicking off on Friday, June 30.

From historic reenactments to under-the-radar locations for viewing the fireworks, here are all the fun things you can do in Boston to celebrate Fourth of July starting as early as now.

Boston Harborfest
Boston Harborfest | Photo Courtesy of Meet Boston

Friday, June 30 to Tuesday, July 4
Kicking off Friday, June 30, the four-day long Boston Harborfest is back to celebrate Boston’s maritime and revolutionary history with hundreds of activities taking place around some of the city’s most famous landmarks. As one of the country’s largest Fourth of July festivals, the family-friendly event features historical reenactments, Freedom Trail walks, boat tours, live entertainment, markets highlighting local artists, concerts, and plenty more.

Check out Meet Boston for a schedule rundown, including another fireworks display happening on Saturday, July 1 at 9:15 pm over the Boston Harbor.
Cost: Free

USS Constitution
USS Constitution | Zack Frank/Shutterstock

Tuesdays through Sundays, 10 am–6 pm
Spend the day at the USS Constitution Museum in Charlestown’s Navy Yard to soak up old memories of “Old Ironsides” and witness firsthand historic artifacts and materials straight from the ship. Recounting stories from the oldest commissioned warship afloat, the USS Constitution Museum also has active duty crew members onsite with a dedicated exhibit to learn more about their day-to-day activities and assignments. While you’re there, Charlestown—one of Boston’s most historic areas—has even more historic stops from Bunker Hill to the lesser known like Warren Tavern, one of America’s oldest-known taverns that has been said to be visited by George Washington and Paul Revere.
Cost: Tickets start at $10 to $15 per adult

The Revere Hotel
The Revere Hotel | Photo Courtesy of The Revere Hotel

Go sky-high for an elevated fireworks experience

Sunday, July 1; 2 pm and Tuesday, July 4
Various locations
Jaw-dropping rooftops bars are already a summer go-to but for this year’s Boston Pops Fireworks display, take your pick from View Boston at the Prudential Center, Lookout Rooftop and Bar, and XV Beacon's roof deck (limited to hotel guests only). Another rooftop opportunity worth noting is The Rooftop at The Revere Hotel, which on Sunday, July 1, will be hosting a special Fourth of July Sunday Funday from 2 pm to 4 pm featuring a DJ and patriotic cocktails and small bites.
Cost: Free to $50

Tuesday, July 4; 12 pm–10pm
Charles River Esplanade
Leading up to the fireworks, spend the day along the Esplanade with Night Shift as they’ll be open with extended hours starting at noon on the Fourth. With a wide variety of choices from Hazy Pale Ales to IPAs, you can also try some of their new releases including IPAs Shark Jumper (aroma of lemon bars, lemon peel, and sweet pineapple) and Owls in Boston (citrus, pineapple, and a hint of pine). Also, pups are welcome!
Cost: Free to enter

Tuesday, July 4; 1:35pm
The Red Sox will host the Texas Rangers at 1:35 pm on Independence Day, with a special Fourth of July-themed Red Sox bucket hat giveaway happening for those that can’t get enough merch. For post-game activities, make your way around The Fenway, with a long list of dining and drinking options that will keep you busy leading up to the day’s grand finale—none other than a wicked fireworks display, of course.
Cost: Tickets start at $46

Tuesday, July 4; 4 pm–8:15 pm
Allston/Brighton and Kendall Square
If you’re looking to skip the crowds but still experience the Boston Pops fireworks displays, what better way to get in on all the action than on the Charles River? Check out Paddle Boston’s Allston/Brighton and Kendall Square locations for an evening kayak rental on the Fourth–and if you’re up for it, earlier in the day, you can also launch off at Condon Shell in Medford, Newton’s historic boathouse and Nahanton Park, Somerville’s Blessing of the Bay Boathouse, and Waltham’s Moody Street Dam.

Heads up: there’s a security zone around the fireworks barge between the Mass. Ave and the Longfellow Bridges, and kayaks (and all boats) must be inside it and anchored by 8:15 pm. If you arrive at the bridge anytime after, you won’t be allowed in.
Cost: $105 per person

Boston Skyline with fireworks
Boston Skyline with fireworks. | Matthew Landers on Unsplash

Tuesday, July 4; 8 pm
Charles River Esplanade
It’s not only one of the best Fourth of July events in greater Boston, it’s also one of the most anticipated celebrations the city has to offer. Taking place at the Hatch Memorial Shell, it kicks off with a jam-packed lineup of musical guests including this year’s headliner group, En Vogue, and patriotic sing-alongs by the U.S. Army Field Band and Soldiers’ Chorus. And to conclude the night, at approximately 10:30 pm, conductor Keith Lockhart will lead the Pops with their annual tradition—playing Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture while the fireworks display goes off in the distance. You can’t really top that.
Cost: Free

Escape the city for some nearby fireworks shows

Tuesday, July 4
Various locations
If you’re looking to escape the city for Independence Day festivities, catch some of the best fireworks happening nearby on the Fourth with displays at Provincetown Harbor at dusk; Pilgrim Memorial State Park in Plymouth at 9 pm; Albemarle Field in Newton at 9:10 pm; Derby Wharf in Salem at 9:15 pm; Legion Memorial Park in Everett at 10 pm; and Salisbury Beach at 10:15 pm.
Cost: Free (check town’s website for parking information)

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Jillian Hammell is a contributor for Thrillist. Follow her on Instagram.