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A gathering of friends and family outdoors, around a barbecue; it’s the essential foundation of any Fourth of July celebration. Of course, there is one thing conspicuously absent from the preceding list: Fireworks.

Depending on the state, the best fireworks display may very well be in your own yard or neighborhood. For the truly monumental, however, you have to visit one of these top shows.

One of the best spots to watch an Independence Day celebration is in the city that started it all. The Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular brings 200,000 spectators to the banks of the Charles River for a show that also includes—not surprisingly—a number of musical acts as well.

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The Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks show—launched from the Hudson River—in New York City, gets a nod for being one of the largest displays anywhere. The show reportedly uses 75,000 pounds of fireworks—three times as many as other large shows.

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New Orleans on the 4th of JulyWikiMedia Commons/ Tulane Public Relations

The Go 4th on the River celebration in New Orleans is a riverside party that only the Big Easy could pull off. The festivities culminate in a fireworks show dubbed the “Dueling Barges” in which two floating platforms try to outdo one another.

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Every year Addison, Texas puts on a display it has appropriately named “Kaboom Town.” The 30 minute fireworks show is accompanied by musical performances and an air show.

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The Lights on the Lake fireworks show at Lake Tahoe, Calif. has been rated one of the top five in the country by the American Pyrotechnics Association. The show features a series of unique, custom, fireworks fired in a combination that can’t be seen anywhere else.

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If you’re looking for a fireworks show that is both more laid back and adventurous than the professional displays listed above, the annual gathering on Seabright Beach in Santa Cruz, Calif. is the show for you. This is a fully unregulated bring-your-own-fireworks event in which dozens of families launch their own collections out of sequence, directly from the beach. The result is a visceral Fourth of July experience that cannot be beat.