The Fourth of July is the perfect time to take a break, bundle the family together and head out to enjoy an old-fashioned, Americana-style summer celebration. Depending on where you live, the perfect destination might just be a quick road trip away; or it might involve a few hours on a plane. But wherever you decide to go, be sure to choose a city or town that really knows how to celebrate the Fourth, with a parade, fun food stalls, interactive events for the kids, music — and of course, a glorious fireworks display in the evening.
There’s something particularly inspiring about celebrating July Fourth in the nation’s capital — thanks in part to “A Capitol Fourth,” a star-studded event held each year on the West Lawn of the Capitol. It’s more than a concert; it’s a big birthday party for the nation, with thousands of enthusiastic, flag-waving attendees. The concert is capped off with a stunning fireworks display over the Potomac River, framed by the city’s historic skyline.
Where else in the world can you stand and look at the exact view that Kathleen Lee Bates saw when she composed the words to “America the Beautiful”? You’ll really see the purple-mountain majesties she wrote about, along with sweeping views from one of the highest peaks (14,115 feet) in the Rocky Mountains. The best way to celebrate is to drive up the Peak — or better yet, take the historic cog railway. Once you’re back down, you can enjoy the fireworks at multiple locations in nearby Colorado Springs.
Before 1776, Williamsburg was a vital colony and now its preserved as a historic site, with original houses and architecture. A Williamsburg Colonial Fourth starts with an 8K run, followed by a Colonial-style parade, concert, and bell-ringing ceremony. The nighttime fireworks, launched over the York River, are alone worth the visit.
The island of Key West celebrates the Fourth in the best small-town way, with a locals’ parade and hot dog picnic. There’s also a Key Lime Festival, where you can feast on the island specialty while enjoying special themed events — including a scavenger hunt! The evening fireworks display, launched from White Street Pier, so the rockets burst in the moonlight over the Atlantic, creates a spellbinding sight you’ll never forget.
Savannah’s Fourth of July provides a wealth of family-friendly activities, including a day-long celebration on famed River Street, with food, music, and fun. You can also opt for a river cruise — during the day to see the dolphins or at night to see the splendid fireworks display over the waterfront.
For small-town fans, it doesn’t get any better than Fort Davis on the Fourth, where you might even see a horse and buggy traveling alongside the cars. Activities include a fun run, a local’s parade, plenty of food stalls, and an Old West gunfight staged hilariously in the afternoon. You’ll also enjoy a splendid fireworks display under the Texas stars.
This historic island, famed for its starring role in the romantic cinema masterpiece Somewhere in Time, celebrates the Fourth in 1880s style. Highlights include a 38-gun salute, patriotic band concerts, an ice cream social, barbecue, and even a popular stone skipping contest, covered by ESPN, no less. The day ends with a fireworks display, with beautiful Lake Huron in the background.
One of the nation’s biggest celebrations, the Boston Harborfest celebrates Boston’s pivotal Colonial history with historic reenactments, music, food, and Harbor cruises. Be sure to catch America’s most famous Fourth of July concert, given each year by the Boston Pops on the Boston Esplanade. It’s followed by a massive fireworks display, set stunningly over Boston Harbor.
For history buffs, there’s no better place to spend the Fourth of July than right at the site where it all started — Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed. There’s also the circa 1750s Liberty Bell, which called lawmakers to their meetings until the bell cracked in the 1840s. In addition, you'll enjoy concerts, and historic exhibits, plus a huge fireworks show at night.
A beloved destination for generations of New Englanders, Bar Harbor kicks off its Fourth of July with a popular locals’ parade. Depending on the year, afternoon events can include a seafood festival and a craft fair. The day ends with a concert by the Bar Harbor Town Band, followed by spectacular fireworks over the Harbor.
North America’s highest incorporated city (10,151 feet) starts its celebrations with a 5k race, followed by a big parade down Harris Avenue, complete with bands and floats. You can also enjoy scenic train rides, barbecue, and an evening topped off with fireworks framed by the silhouettes of the Rocky Mountains.
A classic Fourth family destination, this riverside metropolis is home to Fair St. Louis, an annual event featuring live music, street food stalls, and a huge fireworks display. St. Louis also has a full roster of family-fun attractions, including the Gateway Arch, where you can ride the elevator to the top and enjoy the breathtaking citywide view. And don’t forget to take a riverboat ride along the Mississippi before you go.
For a real Wild West Fourth, you’ll want to visit the Cody Stampede, an annual event featuring horses, rodeos, parades, and food. You can enjoy live music performances while feasting on authentic Western barbecue and imagining life as it was lived more than a century ago. The evening ends with Cody’s annual fireworks display, launched over the scenic Shoshone River.
What’s not to love about a Coney Island Fourth? There’s Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest, one of the holiday’s most publicized events. Plus, you can enjoy the rides at historic Luna Park—including the iconic Cyclone Roller Coaster. You can also visit the nearby New York Aquarium or stroll along the Boardwalk, where you’ll be in the perfect spot for a great view of the fireworks over the harbor.
Bristol’s July 4th parade tradition started in 1785, making it the oldest continuous Fourth of July parade in the nation. In addition to a parade and drum corps show, visitors can enjoy an array of appealing small-town events, including a vintage baseball game, golf tournament, carnival rides, and a fireworks show over Bristol Harbor.