July 4th has always been one of my favorite holidays. What’s not to love about sunny weather, backyard barbecues, parades, national spirit and–of course–fireworks?!
A brief history of fireworks
While fireworks have long been a hallmark of Independence Day celebrations in the United States, the explosive concoction is believed by most experts to have originated in China nearly 2000 years ago. Legend has it, a cook accidentally combined charcoal, sulphur, and saltpeter while experimenting one day in the kitchen. Stored in a bamboo tube, the volatile mixture exploded upon contact with flames.
Whether or not this account is accurate, it is evident that "black powder" was used in China for both military and entertainment purposes at least as early as the 13th century. The explorer Marco Polo is believed to have carried the mixture west to Arabia and England. From there, its use spread throughout Europe and eventually to the United States. Today, fireworks can be seen at celebrations around the world from Tokyo to India to South America.
Big city blowouts and island retreats
While there are a few lists of the best places to watch fireworks across the United States, we like this one of the "Top Ten Places to Celebrate July 4th" for its consideration of both fireworks displays and other fun activities, and its inclusion of famous and less well-known locales.
Making the cut are:
2. Cape Cod & Islands
4. Mount Rushmore
6. Queen Mary 2
7. San Diego
8. San Juan Islands
9. U.S. Virgin Islands
10. Washington, DC.
Tell Us: Where are your favorite places to celebrate the 4th?
Sparklers in Illinois? Rockets in Florida?
When I was a kid, I always wondered why I could play with sparklers while camping in New Hampshire and would see huge billboards for fireworks stores on the interstate, but I couldn’t buy fireworks in any shops near me. While professionals put on magnificent shows around the nation, laws governing the amateur use of fireworks vary by state. Check out this map with a breakdown of state restrictions to find out where fireworks are allowed and where they’re banned.
Have a safe, happy holiday!