Secret places to enjoy fireworks show pop minus the crowds

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Nothing dims the glow of a fireworks display like sweltering in an hour-long traffic jam or getting stuck behind a car blocking the bridge or circling for the last available parking space.

Sure almost everyone gets a bang out of Fourth of July fireworks -- but then there's the matter of the maddening crowds.

But there are some out-of-the-way places to get your fireworks fix, far from the spectacular views offered from the North Shore, Grandview Avenue or Station Square.

These vantage points aren't as panoramic as the views from the North Shore, the best place to see fireworks exploding at around 9:30 p.m. off a barge near the Allegheny River at the Point at part of the three rivers regatta. But the hassle factor is less.

Here are a few unsung places -- at least they were until we blabbed -- where you can get some pyrotechnic pop with less people. this is not a complete list by any means, given all the hillside crannies in the city.

Click image above for larger version.

1. Grandview Golf Course in North Braddock offers great views of the city fireworks, the ones exploding at nearby Kennywood and displays at surrounding small communities. It costs $5 to watch from the 18th hole or golf club or parking lot, but that includes $3 worth of tickets for food and drink. Plus, there's DJ entertainment and the option for a $16.95 cookout buffet.

2. Tenth Street Bridge on the South Side end also is a popular spot.

3. The Hill District has some great vantage points for watching fireworks. Try the end of Ledlie Street, off of Bedford Street, which attracts a couple hundred people. Less crowded is the reservoir at Williams Park on Milwaukee Street.

4. Mirror Street in Greenfield offers a nice view of the point.

5. To avoid all the car traffic, get on a kayak. Kayak Pittsburgh is organizing a Fourth of July paddle that starts with a leisurely paddle upstream at 7 p.m. and then a front-row seat of the fireworks at the point at sunset. Cost is $50 for members and $75 for non-members. Of course, you can't kayak home.

6. You might get lost along the winding roads, but once you reach it, Catoma Street in the Fineview section of the North Side offers some a fine vista. It is definitely worth the trip up and up and up.

7. And if you want to go to the popular spots, try timing it differently. You might be able to miss the crowds if you book a later dinner at a Mount Washington restaurant and linger over coffee and dessert while the crowd clears out.

Cristina Rouvalis can be reached at OR 412-263-1572.


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