Fireworks, barbeques, parades, and live music—no other holiday spells summer fun quite like the 4th of July. Although you could just as easily celebrate America’s birthday by watching the festivities on TV or setting out some lawn chairs and a grill in your backyard, some Independence Day celebrations are worth the trip, especially if they’re right up the road from you. Here are our picks for the country’s top ten places to ring in the 4th.
10. Mount Rushmore, South Dakota
With the faces of our country’s most venerated presidents etched indelibly in the stone of the Black Hills, this national monument epitomizes American history and pride. Attend interpretive talks at the historic Sculptor’s Studio throughout the day on July 3. At night, watch the B-1 Flyover by the Ellsworth Air Force Base and the fireworks display, which will light up the faces of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt.
9. Greater Williamsburg, Virginia
Celebrate July 4th with living history in the Greater Williamsburg area, the center of political events leading up to the American Revolution. Catch four nights of fireworks from July 1-4 at Boom’n July at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg. Or go back in time and celebrate the colonial way with the fife and drum militia parades in Colonial Williamsburg. In nearby Yorktown, where American independence was won, you can stroll through Historic Yorktown and enjoy live entertainment, a children’s fun center, a patriotic concert, and an additional fireworks display.
8. Miami, Florida
A holiday smack dab in the middle of summer just begs for a beach party. The Miami Beach Fourth of July Celebration (at 8th Street and Ocean Drive) kicks off with a swearing-in ceremony for some of the country’s newest naturalized citizens, and continues with live music ’til nightfall when fireworks begin. Downtown, America’s Birthday Bash gets rolling at 3 P.M., and you can enjoy live multicultural music and taste international food from the many booths. A little further south in Key Biscayne, watch the floats, music, and fireworks during the Fourth of July Parade.
7. San Diego, California
Okay, so make that two beach parties. During the day, Pacific and Mission beaches will be packed with holiday sunbathers. At the Del Mar Fairgrounds, have some good ol’ American fun on the rides at the San Diego County Fair and listen to live music. On the Embarcadero at San Diego Bay on July 3, 4, and 5, the San Diego Symphony presents a Star Spangled Pops concert each evening at 7:30. And on the night of July 4, watch the Big Bay Boom, the biggest fireworks display in the region, shooting out from barges floating in the bay.
6. New Orleans, Louisiana
Like every festival N’awlins hosts, it’s always a roarin’ good time, and the 4th of July is no exception. The city’s Go 4th on the River festival offers concerts at the French Market and a free Mardi Gras-style party with live music, food, and door prizes. The main attraction is the Dueling Barges Fireworks Extravaganza, where tug boats and barges battle it out for the best pyrotechnics show over the Mississippi River.
5. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
It’s only fitting that you celebrate America’s Independence Day in the city where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were first drafted. Enjoy extended viewing hours for the city’s most iconic attraction, the Liberty Bell, and the other historic sites on Independence Mall. Then join in on the free concerts and July 4th parade, which culminates in fireworks above the Art Museum, whose steps were made famous by Rocky Balboa.
4. Chicago, Illinois
Famous for its food, it makes sense that Chicago celebrates America’s birthday with the ten-day Taste of Chicago in Grant Park, which runs through July 4. Sample local specialties like deep-dish pizza, and attend free concerts held on three stages. If you’re too eager to wait until the 4th, you can see the fireworks gleaming over Lake Michigan from Monroe Harbor on July 3, with a performance by the Army Band, or watch the July 4 spectacle from Navy Pier, with its own patriotic soundtrack. You can also head to Millennium Park on the 4th for a concert with the Grant Park Orchestra.
3. New York City, New York
It wouldn’t be The Big Apple without big events planned for July 4th. On July 2, cheer on the Brooklyn Independence Parade or listen to the New York Philharmonic play at the Lincoln Center Plaza. On the 4th, wander down Water Street for the Great July Fourth Festival; taste food from 600 international vendors, and shop for arts and crafts. Each year Macy’s launches more than 80,000 dazzling explosions over the East River between 23rd and 42nd Streets, but you can catch the display from rooftops, parks, riverbanks, and on boats across Manhattan, Brooklyn, or Jersey City.
2. Washington, D.C.
With the monuments honoring our founding fathers as the backdrop, Washington, D.C. makes a beautiful place to celebrate 4th of July—and where better than the nation’s capital? The all-day festival begins before noon with a massive parade featuring floats, bands, and giant balloons on Constitution Avenue. Afterwards find a spot on the West Lawn of the Capitol Building for a concert with special guest performances and the National Symphony Orchestra. End the night with the dazzling fireworks show, lighting up the sky above the iconic Washington Monument.
1. Boston, Massachusetts
Topping off our list is where the American Revolution all began—with the Boston Tea Party. These days, Boston’s patriotic festivities kick off July 1 with Harborfest, featuring more than 200 events over six days, showcasing the city’s colonial and maritime heritage (and chowder reign). On July 4th, stake out a spot at the Esplanade on the banks of the Charles River to see the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular, which features a finale fireworks display that uses more than 20,000 pounds of explosives. A tradition since 1973, the Boston Pops symphony orchestra plays the 1812 Overture as fireworks pop, hiss, and explode over the river.
This article is from Karen at away.com