Happy July 4th!! What does the 4th of July mean to you? For the non-Americans reading this, well it’s just another day. But for the patriotic folks wearing red, white and blue, it’s all about celebrating, enjoying some fine local cuisine with your friends and ending the day with an extravaganza of fireworks. That pretty much summarizes the July 4th experience in America. However, where are the best 4th of July destinations around the nation?
Don’t worry, after reading this post you will have a variety of well-known locations along with a few unique spots that you may not have considered before to enjoy the festivities in the next few years.
History of July 4th
Let’s start with a brief history lesson! It may be pretty obvious to 99.9% of people reading this, but July 4th has been an integral date in American history since 1776.
In June 1776, representatives of the 13 original colonies who were at the time fighting the Revolutionary War, adopted a resolution that would declare their independence from Great Britain. The Declaration of Independence drafted by Thomas Jefferson was adopted on July 4th hence, the reason why we annually celebrate Independence Day!
How to Celebrate?
Today, typical celebrations include lavish firework displays, local barbecues and of course, family gatherings. But we don’t typically follow the norm and given that 50% of us technically doesn’t celebrate July 4th, we tend to use this holiday as an opportunity to travel!
Thanks to a number of our fellow travel bloggers, we are delighted to share a collaboration of top destinations around the United States that are a great place to celebrate July 4th. Not only do you get to travel around and see different places, you have the opportunity to celebrate July 4th among like-minded individuals who just love having a good time.
Best 4th of July Destinations
We are delighted to introduce a variety of destinations around the States that our friends from around the world consider as awesome spots to celebrate July 4th. Let’s take a look at where you should be celebrating an upcoming Independence Day.
Whether you are an avid historian who would love to visit the streets of Philadelphia or Boston, or perhaps you are just a party animal who wants to celebrate in Las Vegas or New York City, we have a great array of locations that we think you will be raring to visit.
New York City
Is there any better place to start any celebration than New York City? We are delighted that Carole Terwilliger Meyers from Berkeley and Beyond has shared her experiences of celebrating the 4th of July in Central Park, an iconic location in the heart of New York City.
Hands down my favorite place to celebrate Independence Day is Sheep Meadow in NYC’s Central Park. I organized a July 4th picnic there that was originally going to just include my daughter and her husband, but by the time the day arrived it soon turned out to be much larger.
My son and his family were there from Los Angeles on business and to visit his wife’s side of the family. Our former exchange student was in town from Paris with his family, and my sister and her family were in town after visiting the East Coast. Add to that a large number of other friends and co-workers, and we had one big pot-luck picnic to celebrate July 4th!
Since my son had a fabulous suite at the nearby Mandarin Hotel courtesy of his job, he invited everyone to gather there in the evening to watch the fireworks over the Hudson River. WOW, is all you can say!
Thanks Carole for sharing what sounds like an awesome way to celebrate July 4th in Central Park before seeing the stunning fireworks over the Hudson River! It’s our favorite city in the States, so I think we are sold. If you need a few more ideas on how to spend time in this iconic park, check out our post on must see spots in Central Park.
It’s where it all started in 1776, so it’s no surprise to hear that Philadelphia is on our top list of destinations that you should consider visiting to celebrate July 4th. Suzanne Fluhr from Boomeresque shares a few reasons to support why Philly is a no-brainer when considering options for July 4th.
In my hometown of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, we can’t imagine anyone wanting to celebrate the Fourth of July anywhere else. After all, it was right here that our country’s Founding Fathers put their collective necks on the line by declaring independence from Great Britain on July 4, 1776.
Philadelphia boasts the most historic square mile in the United States. In fact, we are so proud Philly is the nation’s birthplace, we start celebrating July 4th on June 27th.
On July 4th itself, Philadelphia’s celebration will start at 10:00 a.m. on the steps of Independence Hall with the Celebration of Freedom Ceremony. Then, stick around for a parade through the historic district which will have 6,000 participants this year.
Starting at noon, we invite everyone to join a block party (actually more like a 5 blocks party) on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps—the Rocky Steps.
Pace yourself, because from 5:00 to 10:00 p.m., there will be the Wawa Welcome America concert followed by a suitably exuberant fireworks display. And, it’s all FREE!
Thanks Suzanne for sharing why Philly is such an integral part of American history and why we should all be considering heading there for a future July 4th celebration.
It’s hard to imagine a place better than Boston, Massachusetts to celebrate July 4th. After all, where else would you want to spend Independence Day than the birthplace of the American Revolution?
Shannon O’Neill from World Travel With Shannon shares a few interesting events and activities that you can expect to experience if you head to Boston for the 4th of July festivities.
It’s a celebration that takes place over the first four days in the month of July every year starting with the Boston Harborfest Celebration which takes place from July 1st – 4th and culminating on July 4th with the famed Boston POPS performing at the Hatch Shell followed by a 23-minute fireworks display televised around the world.
The Boston Harborfest Celebration includes many free events as well as a few paid events including reenactments, sailing on tall ships, free tours of the Freedom Trail, and so much more.
On the morning of July 4th, be sure to catch the flag raising ceremony and parade at 9am and the reading of The Declaration of Independence at 10am. The reading takes place from the balcony of the Old State House just as it was read the very first time on July 18th, 1776.
If you find yourself with a bit of extra free time between all of the many events in Boston during your stay, there are a multitude of things to do such as stopping by Mike’s Pastry. You won’t regret it!
Thanks Shannon for sharing another awesome destination to celebrate Independence Day. Boston is one of our favorite cities and we could certainly envision relaxing on the Boston Common before enjoying a firework display across this beautiful city.
We strongly recommend reading our explore Boston in 24 hours post as this gives you an insight into some of the top attractions worth exploring while you are in the area.
Ok, so by now you are probably well accustomed to many of America’s leading cities offering awesome July 4th celebrations. But what about some of the lesser known locations around the nation? Beth Daubner from Lifes Endless Adventures shares a couple of reasons why the beautiful destination of Mackinac Island in Michigan is the perfect getaway spot to enjoy this iconic day.
One of the prettiest places to spend your 4th of July weekend is Mackinac Island, Michigan. Mackinac Island is a quaint little island with thousands of tourists each year that come just to watch the fireworks. The island doesn’t allow any motorized vehicle so you have to travel by bike or horse and carriage.
The atmosphere is spectacular. Before the fireworks start everyone sits on the grass by the water waiting where there is a picturesque view of the city and bridge lit up across the water. There are so many others there, sitting by the lapping water, it’s hard not to feel at ease. Once the fireworks start, it’s hard to look away because there are so many!
It is truly a magical experience. Away from all of the hustle and bustle of the city and traffic, it’s easy to just lay back, relax, and take in the view.
Thanks Beth for introducing us to Mackinac Island. I can certainly attest that this isn’t a destination I would immediately have thought about, but given it’s quaint appeal I am sure we will consider visiting in the near future.
If you are looking for a destination in the heart of Florida, perhaps Sanford is the perfect spot for you. Located north-east of Orlando, Sanford is a smaller city in the heart of Seminole County.
Ann Belle from Kids Travel Books shares a few reasons why Sanford is one of her favorite locations for July 4th celebrations.
It’s been a few years, but one of my favorite spots in the Central Florida area for July 4th celebrations is in Sanford, FL. The crowds usually start gathering along the Riverwalk on Lake Monroe, which is adjacent to Fort Mellon Park. The kids love the splash pad, the adults love sitting on the grass and watching the water. The downtown area’s popular German restaurant, Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Cafe, sells grilled burgers.
Sanford boasts the second-largest fireworks show in greater Orlando, second only to downtown Orlando’s show. However, I like it more. The fireworks are lit over Lake Monroe providing a perfect backdrop to the gorgeous firework display. It’s amazing!
The other great thing about this celebration? Parking is easy!
Thanks Ann for highlighting why Sanford, Florida is such a popular spot to visit and enjoy the holiday celebrations.
It may be nestled on the edge of the breathtaking Great Smoky Mountains National Park and an unusual location to celebrate Independence Day, but Gatlinburg, Tennessee is actually a very iconic location. Rob Gerhard from TravelLatte shares the story about the history of Gatlinburg and why you should consider visiting here sooner rather than later.
If we told you the very first Fourth of July Parade was in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, you might think we skipped out on history class once too often. But that statement has been 100% true for more than forty years!
Nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains, the city of Gatlinburg is a gateway to the National Park, nearby to Dolly Parton’s hometown of Pigeon Forge, and home to a variety of attractions, including Ripley’s Believe it or Not and Aquarium of the Smokies.
Every Fourth of July, the city kicks off Independence Day with a midnight parade, claiming the title of the first in the country!
After the parade, and a good night’s rest, you have all day to explore the city and enjoy the attractions before wrapping up the holiday with traditional Fourth of July fireworks. The city expects about 100,000 people at the parade each year, but hotel rooms are available as late as June.
If you go, take some lawn chairs and supplies to stake out your spot early; folks start lining the parade route as early as sunrise! A sure sign that it’s a celebration not to be missed.
Thanks Rob for encouraging us to head on over to Gatlinburg to celebrate July 4th each year before anyone else! We can certainly agree that this part of Tennessee is gorgeous and with the Smoky Mountains waiting to be explored, there is a myriad of reasons to visit. You will also have a pretty big decision to make – whether to sample Moonshine or visit Ripley’s Museums! Which will you go for?
It’s the heart of Summer and you just want to head to the lake and experience 100+ degree weather! If that sounds appealing, perhaps Lake Havasu in Arizona will be the ideal location for you. Ben Warner from Huge Party Travel shares his experiences partying on the lake and why this location is just a whole bunch of fun over the 4th of July weekend.
Lake Havasu, where California and Arizona meet, and where you’ll find a 4th of July for adults-only to celebrate independence.
During the 4th of July, massive amounts of boaters and party folks will flock to Lake Havasu. The weather is hot, an average high temperature of 104F (40C). The year we went it was 116F (46C)!
Most of the madness will require a boat. We rented a boat, paid for a sober captain, and set out to Copper Canyon and the Sandbar. There we found thousands of people enjoying their freedom, drinking cocktails and dancing to loud music.
No boat? No worries. You can find the same fun at Bridgewater Channel, a sliver of sand lines the channel and allows land lovers their opportunity to let loose.
If you survive the long day head to Kokomo, an outdoor bar which features a pool, strong drinks, loud music and great people watching!
Lake Havasu isn’t for everyone, but if there was ever a time to celebrate freedom by releasing your inhibitions, this is the place. Plus, you will likely fly into Las Vegas to get there. Two crazy destinations in one!
Thanks Ben for sharing a very different experience but one that really does look like a lot of fun if hanging out on a boat with good food and drink is the experience you are looking for.
If you are ready for a real ‘small town’ experience, Shara Johnson from SKJ Travel has the perfect spot for you! Central City in Colorado has probably never been a place you considered visiting previously to celebrate July 4th, but after hearing what Shara has to say perhaps you will be convinced otherwise.
While many cities around the country stage grand parades, concerts, rodeos, and massive fireworks high overhead the city buildings or in stadiums, if you want to get back to the real roots of the country, to the spirit of the old days when the USA was founded, ditch the 21st century city throngs and go to a small town.
My favorite is the old mountain mining town of Central City, the original capital of Colorado, and its sister town, Black Hawk. Surrounded by abandoned mines and processing mills, they’re now small-stakes gambling towns.
Central City has retained much of its original character, still using many buildings from its glory days in the 1800s, and provides a nice historical backdrop to the day’s activities, with a “downtown” of about 2 blocks square.
I like Black Hawk’s fireworks display because you can watch them from a hilltop as they’re shot off from the valley … so no stiff neck having to crane it back to see fireworks overhead — they’re right in front of you, filling your entire field of vision. There’s a large flat area where people just park their cars and set up lawn chairs.
Thanks Shara for providing such a useful insight into Central City, Colorado. I am always intrigued by the unique character of ‘small towns’ across the United States and this looks like a perfect place to relax and enjoy a spectacular firework display on July 4th!
Whether you want to relax by the lake or prefer to watch an amazing firework display over the city of Boston, there are plenty of destinations each that you inspire you to get out and travel.
We are intrigued to check out some of these locations though I have to admit that we have such a soft spot for New York City that hanging out and watching fireworks over the Hudson River sounds pretty awesome to us!
Regardless of whether you are traveling or staying at home and celebrating with your friends and family, we want to wish you all a very Happy 4th of July and look forward to hearing about your experiences around the United States!
What is your idea of a perfect July 4th celebration and where are you celebrating this year?
Hey guys – Happy 4th of July! Thanks for including us – and everyone for the great ideas for celebrating Independence Day!
Great list, but I can’t believe Washington, D.C. isn’t on it! The National Mall has fireworks and live music on July 4th. Plus, what better place to celebrate the USA than its capital?
That’s very true Erin! I agree that Washington DC is a no-brainer but at least we have a few other alternatives to choose from 🙂