It’s almost Independence Day, the biggest celebration day of the summer. That means the time has come to pick out the best patriotic outfit, barbeque the best hot dogs, and sprawl out on the lawn to watch fireworks! Although I was disappointed to hear that the annual fireworks show at Missoula’s Southgate Mall has been cancelled this year, there are plenty of other great shows just a short road trip away. We gathered up a list of what will be some of the best places around Missoula to enjoy the Fourth of July.
Photo Credit: North Star Fireworks
Located just 70 miles north of Missoula, Polson is a beautiful small town situated on Flathead Lake. The fun actually begins a day early this year, with country singer Jared Blake performing at Sacajawea Park on Sunday. The free concert is set to start at 2 p.m. with fireworks to follow. On July Fourth people in Polson can take advantage of the annual parade, which begins at noon and a free ice cream social at the Polson Museum to follow. Of course, the big finale is going to be the firework show, which has a budget of $10,000 this year, raised by donations from the community. Grab your blankets and pick a spot anywhere on the lake near Polson for outstanding views of the show.
Great Falls, MT
With a population of about 60,000 people, Great Falls is not that much smaller than Missoula and hosts a great annual Independence Day event every year. Starting at 11 a.m. there will be a “Celebrating America’s Icons” themed Fourth of July parade on Park Drive. After the sun goes down, People’s Park and Rec Foundation will put on its $18,000 fireworks show. We’ve been told the best place to watch this is at Elk’s Riverside Park – be sure to claim your seat early!
Coeur d’ Alene, ID
Although this town is not in Montana, it is only about a two and a half hour drive from Missoula and is home to one of the most beautiful lakes in the West. Their fourth of July celebration is an all-day event and is made possible through local donations collected by the Chamber of Commerce. The American Heroes Parade kicks off the celebration at 11 a.m. Following the parade there will be food vendors along the lake and live entertainment featuring many different musical styles. There are many different beach fronts around the lake that offer a great view of the fireworks. For those who prefer to watch on the water, dinner cruises can be booked through several local cruise companies.
Home to the only other Division I university in Montana, Bozeman is a fantastic place to spend the Fourth. This year’s “Festival of the Fourth” event will kick off with a barbeque fundraiser at 6:30 p.m. at the Gallatin County Fairgrounds. Under the direction of Maestro Matthew Savery, The Bozeman Symphony Orchestra will perform patriotic and pop favorites at 9 p.m. The big finale will be the fireworks display, which is expected to begin around 10:30 p.m. Bozeman is known for hosting one of Montana’s biggest fireworks displays and draws thousands of people every year.
Perhaps the largest fireworks show in Montana can be viewed in Laurel. Although this town is the furthest in distance from Missoula, the drive is worth it for the size of this fireworks show. For early-risers, Laurel offers a homemade pancake breakfast starting at 6 a.m. (don’t worry, they serve until 11 a.m.). Other events taking place throughout the day are the Chief Joseph run, kiddie parade, food and craft fair, and of course, the grand parade at 11 a.m. The annual firework show has been hosted by the Laurel Fire Department for over 50 years and includes music synced with the fireworks. People usually gather around the local football field and Thompson Park to watch. With about 40,000 people in attendance last year and a $60,000 budget, we recommend you get there early to secure your spot!