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As July 4 approaches, many Austinites have begun to plan their Independence Day activities. While there are a number of fireworks displays across central Texas, none compare to the magnificent show put on (almost) every year at Auditorium Shores, hosted this year by H-E-B, AT&T, and the Austin Symphony Orchestra.

However, as attendance for the Auditorium Shores show is often over 100,000 people, you might want to think twice about braving that crowd. If you’re looking for a more relaxing, less populated area to watch the show from, any of these ten locations will do just fine…

10.) Juniper Street

auditorium shores lady bird lake fireworks new years eve celebration artillery shell zilker park butler park

Right off of E. 11th Street downtown, the surprisingly small Juniper Street is said to provide a great view of the show, if you can find an open parking space.

9.) Barton Creek Square Mall

<I>Photo: <a href="" target="_blank">Flickr user Joey Parsons</a>, creative commons licensed.</I>

Photo: Flickr user Joey Parsons, creative commons licensed.

Apart from providing a solid view of the show, I’m told that the parking lot at Barton Creek Square Mall is also relatively quiet—sounds perfect for tailgating!

8.) Downtown Rooftop Lounges

fireworks austin viewpoint lookout viewing frost bank tower artillery shell

Caption. Photo: Flickr user Peter Hall, CC licensed

Many downtown bars allow paying customers rooftop access to view the fireworks. Third Base sounds like a good bet, but you’ll have tons of venues to choose from, most of which feature live music in true Austin style.

7.) Any Of These Parks: Zilker Park, Shoal Beach, Sand Beach Park, Butler Shores, Rock Island, Lamar Beach, Deep Eddy Park

Photo: Flickr user Gino, creative commons licensed.

Photo: Flickr user Gino, creative commons licensed.

It’s recommended that you scout out a location ahead of time at these spots, as the tree cover can be problematic depending upon where you lay your blanket. There are still lots of great viewing areas in Austin’s amazing parks, so if you’ve got a favorite give it a shot!

6.) Lady Bird Lake Trail

<I>Photo: <a href="" target="_blank">Flickr user jaredten</a>, creative commons licensed.</I>

Photo: Flickr user jaredten, creative commons licensed.

Find a quiet area anywhere along the shoreline on Lady Bird Lake Trail. Don’t be afraid to explore a little to find that perfect spot away from people.

5.) Parking Garages

Photo: Flickr user Sean Loyless, creative commons licensed.

Photo: Flickr user Sean Loyless, creative commons licensed.

Some downtown parking garages allow tailgaters to watch fireworks from their rooftop levels, for a fee of course. Try the garage near 360 Condominiums, or the Chase Bank parking garage at 5th and Guadalupe.

4.) St. Edwards University

<I>Photo: <a href="" target="_blank">Flickr user NapInterrupted</a>, creative commons licensed.</I>

Photo: Flickr user NapInterrupted, creative commons licensed.

Become a “hilltopper” and watch from the St. Edwards University campus. Take a blanket or chair out to the sports fields, or commandeer the bleachers.

3.) Downtown Condominiums

Auditorium Shores Fireworks from 360 Condominiums. Flickr creative commons.

If you live in a condo facing the Lake, or know someone who does, sit out on the balcony for a bird’s eye view. The Austonian and 360 Condominiums both provide breathtaking views.

2.) Congress Bridge

fireworks new years fourth july

Watch the fireworks from the Congress Bridge. While the bridge is bound to be crowded, at least you know that 100,000 people won’t be there. The view is so spectacular that you won’t mind standing for the whole show.

1.) Lady Bird Lake

Auditorium Shores Fireworks from Lady Bird Lake, near the railroad bridge. Flickr creative commons.

This is the best way to watch the Auditorium Shores fireworks, hands down: Rent a canoe, kayak or paddle board from a spot like Rowing Dock or another rental company by the lake, and launch either from the north side of the lake and row to S. First Street or launch from the south side and row to Lamar.

If you’d rather not do this alone, hook up with a community group like Hill Country Outdoors. Alternatively, you could always catch a leisurely ride on a Lone Star Riverboat, if paddling or possibly falling in isn’t on your agenda.

Happy Fourth of July!


*Note: The photos above don’t necessarily show the view you’ll get from any of the locations listed. Also, since these are all collected responses from Austin Internet users, let’s just agree that the author of this piece is not responsible if the spot you pick turns out to be crowded and/or lame. Go early, people!

Featured photo: Flickr user Gino, creative commons licensed.

Rebecca L. Bennett