Every 4th of July, Americans unite to celebrate their nation’s birth. While most revellers spend the day at picnics and barbecues before congregating for fireworks in the evening, you’ll find quirky celebrations across the country.
Finding the right place to celebrate makes all the difference. Watching hot air balloons inflate and take flight might be your cup of tea. Or perhaps you’d like to sign up for the Orange Crate Derby in Bristol, Rhode Island. Whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find it here.
We’ve put together a list of the 10 best places to celebrate the 4th of July this year. From the lights of Times Square to the sandy beaches of Lake Tahoe, we’ve got the perfect party for you.
1. Boston, Massachusetts
Best for: Historical ambience
The Boston Harborfest transports you back to the days when British redcoats marched in the streets and restless American colonists plotted their severance.
During the celebrations, the current Captain Commanding of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company reads the Declaration of Independence from the balcony of the Old State House, just as it was read to Bostonians on July 18, 1776. In the evening, the famous, televised Boston POPs Orchestra concert concludes with explosive fireworks over the Charles River.
2. New York City, New York
Best for: Epic fireworks
In Manhattan, it’s ‘go big or go home’. And if fireworks have to compete with the lights of Times Square, you know they’ll be phenomenal.
Millions of people assemble to watch the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks over the Brooklyn Bridge, and this year’s show promises to be the biggest ever.
Take a cruise around New York Harbour and you’ll enjoy a holiday buffet and live D.J. entertainment as you watch fireworks explode around the Statue of Liberty.
3. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Best for: the nation’s largest free outdoor concert
Home to the very first Independence Day fireworks display back in 1777, Philadelphia has been letting freedom ring in a big way ever since.
Home to the nation’s largest 4th of July outdoor concert, Philly lights up the streets, the sky, and stages across the city. What better way to party than to cheer with the locals where the Declaration of Independence was written and signed back in 1776?
4. Provo, Utah
Best for: Hometown parades and hot air balloons
Every year, the folksy Provo Freedom Festival hosts spectacular 4th of July events at the foot of the gorgeous Wasatch Mountains. This multi-day extravaganza includes a hot air balloon race, community pancake breakfast, patriotic parades and razzle-dazzle concerts.
Best of all, Provo hosts the Stadium of Fire, one of the nation’s most impressive fireworks displays, accompanied by top-name performers and daring pyrotechnics. After the crowds thin, head up to the mountains for a float down the Provo River or a drive through a national park.
5. Las Vegas, Nevada
Best for: Pool parties with famous DJs
And you thought the Vegas lights couldn’t get brighter. On the 4th of July, Las Vegas outdoes itself, lighting up every corner of the Valley. Book your tickets early for concerts, comedy shows and high-octane entertainment like Cirque du Soleil and the Blue Man Group.
Beat the summertime Vegas heat at casino and hotel pool parties where famous DJs spin the latest tracks, and gaze at incredible fireworks displays from a rooftop party overlooking the Strip.
6. Washington, D.C.
Best for: Monuments and parades
Launch your D.C. celebrations along the Constitution Avenue parade route to glimpse VIPs, whistle along to the fife-and-drum bands and admire elaborate floats. Next, join America’s national pastime, baseball, as the Washington Nationals take on a rival.
In the evening, snag a spot on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol to listen to one of the country’s best free 4th of July concerts, A Capitol Fourth. And finally, revel in streaming fireworks set against the majestic memorials along the National Mall.
7. Austin, Texas
Best for: Barbecues and music
Barbecue and the 4th of July go together like salt and pepper, so it only makes sense to celebrate Independence Day where barbecue is a fine art: Texas hill country.
Austin hosts the Hill Country Galleria Independence Day Festival with live music, barbecue, local art vendors, fair rides and games. At the Frontier Days celebration in Round Rock, you can enter the jalapeño-eating contest before the fireworks. End the day clapping along with 100,000 of your closest friends at the Austin Symphony July 4th Concert and Fireworks.
8. Bristol, Rhode Island
Best for: Balls and drum-and-bugle competitions
Way back in 1785, Reverend Henry Right, a Revolutionary War veteran, established the official Bristol “Patriotic Exercises.” Maybe that’s why this Rhode Island town has earned the nickname, “America’s Most Patriotic Town.”
What might you see in Bristol on the 4th of July? Start with orange crate derby races, a gathering of firefighters, and a drum-and-bugle corps show. Pack a white or blue gown to wear to the 4th of July Ball, and celebrate the holiday with 200,000 other freedom revellers at the Military, Civic and Firemen’s Parade.
9. Key West, Florida
Best for: Foodie fun
The small island city of Key West hosts America’s favourite citrus celebration every 4th of July. The Key Lime Festival offers four days of culinary events interwoven with traditional Independence Day picnics and fireworks.
But back to the food. If you’re feeling like a champ, enter the World Key Lime Pie Eating Championship. If you just can’t get enough, take a class from a local celebrity chef so you can make your own key lime pies when you return home.
10. Lake Tahoe, California
Best for: Lights on the lake
Launched from offshore barges, the Lights on the Lake fireworks display provides twice the amazement.
The fireworks illuminate everything: the sky, the water and the eyes of the 200,000 onlookers. And this year, the pyrotechnics are choreographed to a soundtrack that will be broadcast on local radio stations.
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