Fireworks are best seen from the water, preferably from a private yacht with your own crewman pouring champagne. Yacht brokers Sparkman & Stephens (they're also naval architects) have lots of boats and will rent you one with a crew for the three-day Fourth of July weekend. You could take the Galileo, for instance, a sleek 123-foot ketch. Sail from Greenwich with a first-day run to Oyster Bay, where you drop anchor for the night. Spend the morning kayaking, and after the chef serves brunch, head down the East River to Sandy Hook to moor for the night. On the Fourth, take a swim at one of five lifeguarded beaches (there's even a nude one), fish, bird-watch, hike, or poke around Fort Hancock, built in 1895. Back onboard, your captain will find a perfect place in New York Harbor for the fireworks. After the grand finale, simply grab your duffel, hop off at 23rd Street (East or West Side!), and catch a subway home. The Galileo sleeps six and she's yours for three days for $17,500about $5,700 per couple. The price includes a crew of six, three gourmet meals a day, and a fully stocked open bar. A less expensive alternative is a J-44 sloop called Monhegan, available with a captain from Sound Sailing Center in Norwalk, Connecticut. The boat has three double-berthed staterooms, plus a pilot berth in the main salon. The price for the three-day weekend is $3,200.
DETAILS Sparkman & Stephens (212-661-6170; www.sparkmanstephens.com); Sound Sailing Center (203-838-1110).