If your summer holidays include fireworks celebrations of the largest magnitude and you’ve gone out of your way to stand with the crowds to see these huge firework displays on shore, consider a different tact. Instead, try watching smaller firework displays, but not from land — rather from a craft out on the water. You’re guaranteed to be a completely different experience, but one that is still exciting and unique.

Real Stars and Stripes

Fireworks Displays

Photo Credit: Eden Pontz / Discovery TravelingMom

If you look forward to summertime fireworks displays for holidays and celebrations, you may have waited patiently to see the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks in New York City, or stood impressed while watching the nighttime spectacular put on at Disney’s Magic Kingdom night after night.

But consider opting for a new experience by leaving town and heading to a lake area where you are able to gain access to the water by boat or other watercraft.

Check in with locals to find out where they typically go to see the best, but not necessarily the largest displays. Then, via your watercraft of choice (don’t worry about having a motorized boat as kayaks, canoes, and paddle boats serve just the same and are easier to maneuver at night), get out on the water while it’s still dusk. And get ready for some real stars in the sky.

A Call and Answer

Lake vacation

Photo Credit: Eden Pontz / Discovery TravelingMom

We were fortunate enough to be able to see fireworks from Maine’s Lake St. George this year. But in a state like Maine, there are ample lakes to choose from, with plenty of locals and vacationers who want to indulge in the fun. We took our small crafts (two kayaks and a canoe) about a third of the way out in one of the lake’s inlets known as “Small Pond”, and watched and waited for things to begin. As they did, a varying display of fireworks shot up from the right side of the lake.

With four or five to start with, it was quickly answered by others shooting off a responsive display from the left side of the lake. Whoops and hollers followed each call and response, with increasing fervor and competition. Boat horns blasted, an occasional car horn honked, and there was someone on the shoreline jingling a loud cowbell. (More cowbell!)

As it continued getting dark, the fireworks came from other spots on the lake and we could see them over the trees. Stars began showing up for us to study and discover in between the mini-shows.

The Booms and the Birds

While seeing fireworks in the longer running, more mainstream displays such as Disney’s allows you to become accustomed to the loud booms that follow the sparks and lights, seeing fireworks on a forest lake can mean amazing echoes of the explosions that reverberate across the lake and back again. The lake we were on is known for its birdlife, in particular its loons, who have their own distinct yells, and they joined in occasionally for the festivities as well.

Fireworks, Disney, Macy's

Photo Credit: Eden Pontz / Discovery TravelingMom

Be Safe or Be Sorry

While you take it all in, don’t forget your life preserver! These festivities are just the places where you’ll find officials and rangers looking to make sure that you’re not violating local rules, such as the improper amount of life preservers per passengers in the craft or making sure you’re not operating the craft while intoxicated. If you don’t follow the local laws, don’t be surprised if you end up being fined.

We didn’t bother taking night time photos, as they simply can’t capture the true experience.  While the amount of fireworks on display may not be as impressive as what you’d see during the Boston Pops show, or at Washington’s National Mall, the amazing contrast of bright lights against the dark lake, actual stars, the smell of nature and the serenity of the water around you make for an unforgettable fireworks experience.

Where is your favorite spot to see fireworks? Share with us in the comment section below.