Seattle Fourth of July fireworks

No. 3: Seattle - Family 4th Fireworks

Perhaps all that needs to be said about Seattle's Family 4th celebration is that when it looked like it was going to die in 2010, the community stepped up and did something about it.

After word came that the festival would be canceled without a title sponsor, Seattle businesses and residents stepped up and raised $500,000 in less than 24 hours to ensure the show would go on. They raised the same amount this year to guarantee the celebration would take place for yet another summer.

That outpouring of support is no surprise given the beauty of the fireworks show, which are set against the natural amphitheater of Lake Union and synchronized to an inspiring score of traditional anthems and popular favorites.

The show is nationally acknowledged as one of the best in the country and features innovative and technologically advanced fireworks, everything from Italian electrical storms to shells suspended by parachutes.

Boston Fourth of July fireworks

No. 2: Boston - Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular

You might say Boston takes its annual fireworks extravaganza pretty seriously.

After all, some 20 city, state and federal agencies collaborate to oversee the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular, which features four barges launching more than 10,000 firework devices in a 21-minute show.

Boston Harborfest, which kicks off in late June and continues through the Independence Day holiday, features more than 200 events besides the fireworks. You can expect concerts, kids' days, a chowder cook-off, cruises, tours and more.

But it's the fireworks that are the main event, with 400,000 to 700,000 spectators lining the Esplanade on the Charles River for the free show featuring live music from the Boston Pops Orchestra.

While the best seats for the concert won't give you a view of the fireworks, 30 sound towers will ensure every spectator on both the Cambridge and Boston sides of the river can have their concert and enjoy the fireworks too.

Washington D.C. fireworks over U.S. Capitol

No. 1: Washington DC - A Capitol Fourth

Thomas Jefferson hosted the first official Independence Day celebration on the lawn of his mansion more than 200 years ago.

Today that tradition lives on with the free A Capitol Fourth concert on the West Lawn of the Capitol Building.

The concert, featuring special guest performances accompanied by the National Symphony Orchestra, is followed by one of the nation's largest and most visually-impressive fireworks displays, lighting up the sky over the National Mall and the Washington Monument.

If you can't make it to D.C. for the Fourth of July, don't worry, the concert and fireworks is broadcast live every year by PBS and National Public Radio

And the fireworks are only one part of the festivities. Visitors to D.C. around Independence Day can also take in the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, where everything American, from food, crafts, concerts and more, is showcased along the National Mall, or the National Independence Day Parade down Constitution Avenue.