Fireworks have been an American tradition since the first Independence Day celebration. We love our fireworks just as much as the coleslaw, hot dogs and potato salad that come along with them. And what’s not to love? Colors exploding in the sky, showering the world with glowing sparks to the “oooh-aaaah” delight of families spending the evening together is a welcomed event.
Summer is cabin season, and many people will take the holiday as a chance to leave the city behind. Many people will have their own fireworks, setting off smaller shows on the shores of lakes all across the state. But if you’re not tucked away at the cabin come July, here are the best places to see some grand ol’ fireworks.
Downtown Saint Paul’s 4th of July Fireworks
Harriet Island Regional Park
950 Lilydale Road
Saint Paul, MN 55118
Date: July 4 at 10 p.m.
The fireworks show over downtown Saint Paul is one of the most awe-inspiring sights with the river and the bluffs alight and the skyline blinking in response. Sadly, the Taste of Minnesota no longer accompanies the fireworks. There have been talks of bringing back the festival, but either way, this show is one of most incredible you’ll find. Take advantage of one of West 7th’s awesome patios before, during (you’ll be able to see everything from the rooftop patio at Louis) or after the show or bring a blanket and hunker down in the park. After the sun goes down and that first rocket shoots into the sky, you’ll be glad you stayed in the city. Want to avoid the crowds? Head to the top of the Smith Avenue parking ramp at 145 Smith Avenue North. You’ll get a great view of the fireworks as they burst over the Xcel Energy Center.
Red, White and Boom
Xcel Energy Water Power Park
Minneapolis, MN 55414
Date: July 4 at 10 p.m.
Another show that takes full advantage of the Mississippi is Minneapolis’ Red, White and Boom grand finale fireworks. The festival, which starts with a 5k run at 6 a.m. on July 3rd, hosts events, live music and more for friends and family of all ages through the 4th. The Saint Anthony Main riverfront will have fantastic views as the fireworks are set off from Water Power Park, and the beautiful, historic area is the perfect setting in which to enjoy them. Both of the nearby bridges, the Stone Arch Bridge and the Central Avenue Bridge, are also prime viewing locations. A good way to avoid the inevitable traffic jam is to take public transit or to bike down to the river: Minneapolis has some of the best bike trails in the state.
White Bear Lake’s Manitou Days
Memorial Beach Park
4940 N. Highway 61
White Bear Lake, MN 55110
Date: July 4 at 10 p.m.
Manitou Days, the cultural festival that features three weeks of events starting June 13, culminates with a grand fireworks display over the lake on July 4th. The downtown area of White Bear will be packed with people enjoying good food and music. The lake is the perfect place to sit back, relax and take in the beautiful views of the water as fireworks reflect off the surface. Get to the beach early in the day as it fills up fast.
Minneapolis Aquatennial Target Fireworks
West River Parkway
Minneapolis, MN 55406
Date: July 20 at 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
One show, and one that some argue is the best show, isn’t a 4th of July event. The Minneapolis Aquatennial, held from July 12-20, doesn’t compete with the rest of the state for best fireworks on Independence day, it instead gives us one of the largest and most spectacular shows in the country a couple weeks later. There will be other Aquatennial events throughout the week leading up to the show, but if you want fireworks, this is the place to go. On July 20th, live music starts at 6 p.m. with food and lively company. The party goes until 10 p.m. when the dark skyline will explodes with colors and lights. If you haven’t seen it, you should. It really is a sight to behold.
Delano 4th of July Celebration
Delano, MN 55328
Date: July 6 at 10:30 p.m.
Feeling truly patriotic? The oldest 4th of July celebration takes place in Delano and there is no shortage of Independence Day spirit. The 30-minute closing firework show on the July 6th is one of the best in the state, ending with a giant rocket, something like “bombs bursting in air.” Find a spot near the river if you can, it’s worth the bugs for the picture-perfect setting. The charming town also hosts a parade, the oldest and largest 4th of July parade in the state, and other family-friendly events. It’s the perfect getaway from the city, while still offering all of the fun of the holiday.
Adrian Schramm is a resident Saint Paul writer with a passion for all things local. Through his work with Saint Paul Almanac and Minneapolis Examiner at Examiner.com, as well as in the kitchens of bars and restaurants around town, he has discovered what truly makes the Twin Cities tick.