Image: Trump Chicago Hotel
William Huber
Chicago used to have just one big show ? over Grant Park ? but the Navy Pier show is now stealing some pyrotechnic thunder. A great spot to see it is the Trump Chicago Hotel, which sits on the river and has a straight shot down to the pier.
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updated 7/1/2010 3:08:43 PM ET 2010-07-01T19:08:43

What began as a lark for the Barbarich family evolved into a 28-year tradition: staying at Pennsylvania’s Hotel Hershey for July 4th and watching fireworks from a suite overlooking the lawn.

“We have the best view ever,” says Pat Barbarich, a New Jersey real estate broker and grandmother of two. The head count for her and husband Dave’s family party in the hotel’s Milton Hershey Suite now stands at 24. The best part? “Sitting where we do, it looks like the fireworks are shooting right at you.”

This year, municipal budget cuts mean that cities around the nation — from Palm Springs, Calif., to Jones Beach on NY’s Long Island—are shuttering their shows (the average July 4th show price tag tops $100,000). So folks determined to oooh and aaaah may now have to travel to find their Technicolor dream sky. And if you’re going to book a hotel, why not choose one with an amazing vista?

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So Travel + Leisure scoured the country looking for the best hotels to watch fireworks. And we uncovered 11 with a high “boom-boom factor” — that is, properties where the rooms, the rooftop bars, and even the gym may have picture-perfect panoramas.

Some of these hot spots roll their primo seats into packages. The W Hotel in Washington, D.C., for example, offers a Boom with a View package, which includes concert tickets to its own rooftop concert before the big show over the National Mall, for $619 (price tag for a room alone: $249).

Slideshow: Best hotels for July 4th fireworks

But hotels don’t necessarily add on high-cost bells and whistles. In hilly cities like San Francisco, where great views abound, prices across the board are reasonable (always ask for a Bay-facing room). And a few spots across the country even charge less over the holiday weekend — largesse that we attribute to good ol’ patriotic spirit.

Of course, affordable spots with great views are likely to get booked up fast. So we’ve also searched for hotels where you can just snag a stool and order a beer — sometimes, the sky-scraping bar is the best place to be for the big show (and since bars don’t take reservations, the early bird gets the perch).

Plenty of these hotels just have great views, no matter when you visit. In Austin, the pyrotechnic-friendly perches at the Hyatt Regency also offer front-row seats for the legendary nightly ascent of the one-million-plus Mexican bats from the Congress Avenue Bridge. Sure, those bats don’t come in red, white, or blue, but we’ll take any excuse to kick back and enjoy a summer sky.

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