25 Best 4th of July Vacations
The birth of the United States is celebrated in many different fashions across this massive country, from small town parades to big city firework displays to military airshows to food eating competitions and nearly everything between. Some folks choose to spend the holiday outdoors, camping in nature and enjoying the solitude that national parks have to offer, while others choose to spend it on vacation in a large city, seeing the sights and experiencing tourist attractions. It isn’t the location where people choose to spend the Fourth of July that is important, it is instead remembering what the purpose of the holiday is and celebrating independence in whatever way they see fit. Photo: Javier Castro/Fotolia
»Wisconsin Dells, WI
Guests seeking waterpark adventures, camping opportunities, and a traditional midwest getaway for their Fourth of July should certainly include Wisconsin Dells on their itinerary of summer fun. Wisconsin Dells, located in southern Wisconsin, is situated on the Wisconsin River in a region of the state known for its glacier formed sandstone landscape. The city is home to many water parks, theme parks, and entertainment centers that are fun for the whole family. For guests who want to spend more time in nature, Mirror Lake State Park is the perfect getaway into the great outdoors of camping, hiking, and biking trails. Things to Do in Wisconsin Dells
Photo: Lorraine Swanson/Fotolia
»New Braunfels, TX
A short drive from the Gulf of Mexico and an even shorter drive from San Antonio, New Braunfels is a unique town in Texas that heavily celebrates its German heritage with building, customs, and traditions. However, that won’t stop this all American town from celebrating Independence Day with an annual parade full of floats, performers, and music. Participants who wish to be directly involved can submit applications, and those who only want to watch are advised to arrive early to secure a good place to watch from the sidewalk. The parade moves throughout downtown, making it easy for guests to the area to explore the many local businesses and restaurants after the parade. Things to Do in New Braunfels
»Bar Harbor, ME
Close proximity to Acadia National Park and typical pristine summer weather makes spending Independence Day in Bar Harbor an easy decision to make. The day is filled with a large selection of events that are open to the whole family, and most importantly the day begins with an optional Pancake Breakfast hosted by the Bar Harbor Rotary Club. A large Independence Day Parade takes place in the early morning, and following that you can partake in a seafood festival, concerts, fireworks, and many other celebrations. Bar Harbor is a popular destination for the Fourth of July, however, so it is heavily recommended that guests planning to stay in the area book their accommodations many months in advance. Things to Do in Bar Harbor
»Mt. Rushmore, SD
There are few locations more patriotic than the massive stone faces of four of the United States of America’s most influential leaders carved into the mountain side. Mount Rushmore National Memorial recognizes this special position they hold during Independence Day and celebrates accordingly with a unique collection of events and activities. Traditionally on the holiday there are actors dressed as each president – Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, and Thomas Jefferson – who hold news conferences, answer questions, pose for photographs, and sign autographs. Also in attendance are military bands playing patriotic music, various local performers, and a flag folding ceremony.
»Block Island, RI
Block Island is no stranger to summertime celebrations, from beach campfire cookouts to festivals and parades, locals and visitors to the island know how to have fun under the sun. The celebration of Independence Day is no different, and it kicks off with a large parade that always starts at Veterans Park. Guests spectating the event are advised to show up early to secure a spot along the parade route to watch all of the floats pass by. After the parade, as is tradition on Block Island, there is an Annual Steak Fry to benefit the local fire department. Oftentimes there are fireworks being shot off through the afternoon and into the evening, as well as bonfires, beach cookouts, and plenty of music to go around.
Given its close proximity to Yellowstone National Park, it is almost certain that Bozeman will be a popular destination for the Fourth of July. With a wide array of events happening during the celebration, from parades to large cookouts, fireworks to horse shows, and many things in between, guests to this Montana town will certainly find enough entertainment to keep them busy. Weather during the month of July is typically ideal for camping and hiking in Montana, so families that are seeking an outdoor adventure can take the short drive to Yellowstone and enjoy all that the park has to offer before or after their Independence Day celebration. Things to Do in Bozeman
Elko is a small city in Nevada that is perfect for visitors who wish to enjoy the solitude of outdoor activities during their Fourth of July. The town also hosts fireworks, a patriotically themed parade, and a collection of small cookouts, but the real treat of visiting this location is the unbridled access to nature. For families wanting active experiences, there is mountain biking, hiking, rock climbing, horseback riding, four-wheel drive trails, and more. If you want to enjoy the wilderness in a more relaxed fashion, you can camp, admire the wildlife, participate in birding, fish from one of the many local streams or lakes, or take a scenic drive. You can explore Elko through historical tours, and there is even the opportunity to explore nearby ghost towns.
Photo: Elko Convention & Visitors Authority
»Lake Tahoe, CA
Huge crowds flock to Lake Tahoe every year to celebrate the Fourth of July and enjoy sandy beaches, community events, food and drink specials at various restaurants, and firework shows that take place all around the lake. As is tradition at Lake Tahoe, typically the daytime of Independence Day is filled with suntanning, cookouts, and other beach related activities while crowds wait for the sun to set and the fireworks to begin. The firework show itself is choreographed to music that is broadcast through local radio stations, and the lights can be seen from nearly anywhere in town. Things to Do in Lake Tahoe
Nashville delivers on Independence Day celebrations with live music, parades, fireworks, food, fun, and entertainment for the whole family. Given that Nashville is a popular destination, it is recommended to book lodging ahead of time and to purchase any specific concert tickets that you may need for individual performances. For families travelling with active children, the July 4th Family Fun Zone is the perfect destination, and on Independence Day it is free and open to the public. Children can play on a large assortment of inflatables, including slides, obstacle courses, bouncing houses, and more. Things to Do in Nashville
With historic roots that trace back to the original Independence Day of the United States, Philadelphia is host to an extensive Independence Day celebration that often stretches over many days. The main events, however, all take place on July 4th and include The United States of America Independence Day Parade, popular free concerts, fireworks, and oftentimes free access to many of the local museums. The day ends, of course, with a dazzling firework display over the Philadelphia Museum of Art once nighttime has come, and the fireworks themselves are accompanied by a powerful soundtrack that includes energetic music and powerful quotes throughout the performance. Things to Do in Philadelphia
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Independence Day in Telluride kicks off with the Telluride Foundation Rundola, a recreational foot race to raise funds for the foundation. Following the race is the Telluride 4th of July Parade, which typically begins around eleven in the morning on Main Street. The sidewalks fill up early so it is recommended to arrive early for a good spot. After the parade is the Telluride Fireman’s BBQ held in Town Park, a dinner of BBQ and sides, and all proceeds of this event support local fire brigades. To cap off the evening after the sun sets is the firework show that takes place above Town Park, but the spectacle can be seen from anywhere in town.
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»Virginia Beach, VA
Located along the southeastern coast of Virginia, Virginia Beach is an oceanside town famous for its beaches and pleasant summer weather. There are many boardwalks that line the beachfront community, and guests can also visit the First Landing State Park, which marks the 1607 arrival location of the original Jamestown colonists. Given this city’s rich history, it is no surprise that many flock to celebrate the birth of the nation during Independence Day here. Guests and locals alike can enjoy the Stars and Stripes Explosion event that is held on the waterfront to celebrate the 4th of July. With live music, food, and fireworks that can be seen from miles away, this celebration is fun for the whole family.
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Celebrating Independence Day in the capital city of the United States is an experience that families seeking an exciting holiday will not want to miss. Throughout the city there are an assortment of parades held with a diverse collection of floats, music, and performers. Those who spend Independence Day in Washington, D.C.can also educate themselves on the country’s past in one of the city’s many museums, see portraits of all the former presidents at the America’s Presidents at the National Portrait Gallery, or honor the Founding Fathers and view some of the nation’s most important documents at the National Archives.
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Celebrating the birthday of the United States of America in The Windy City often means a day filled with fun, sun, and a collection of attractions that make the city shine. From free concerts in Millenium Park to parades along the river, spectacular airshows over the lake and fireworks after the sun has set, Chicago provides fun for the entire family. Depending on the weather, guests may wish to spend the peak of the day indoors if the weather is too hot, and there are many museums, some of which are along the lakefront, that will keep children and parents entertained for hours. For outdoor fun, visitors can head to Navy Pier and see the city from a new perspective while riding the Centennial Wheel.
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The Downtown Asheville Independence Day Celebration is held annually and often takes place in Pack Square Park on the Fourth of July. Throughout the day there is a parade that features local floats, performers, and political figures as they make their way along the route, and there are also children’s activities to keep the family entertained. Live music typically begins around evening time, and there is food and beverage available for purchase. The annual fireworks will begin later in the evening after sunset, and you can often get the best view from Pack Square Park, as views from elsewhere in the city tend to be partially blocked by buildings.
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Being an oceanside town, it is only fitting that Narragansett typically kicks off their Independence Day celebrations by hosting a Beach Party that involves sand castle building, cookouts, and relaxation. As the day progresses, the festivities eventually make their way over to the North Beach Clubhouse for a concert, food, and other entertainment. Eventually the sun sets on this small town, and when it does everyone is ready for the firework show to begin. Oftentimes the fireworks take place over the water, allowing for ample seating space on the beaches and in town, which makes it far easier for viewers since they don’t have to arrive very early to reserve a spot.
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»Niagara Falls, NY
Niagara Falls is an internationally popular destination that draws tourists from around the world, and visiting it during Independence Day awards all of the usual spectacles plus fireworks and other holiday attractions. Because this is such a popular destination, guests are advised to book lodging, tours, and tickets as far in advance as possible to avoid any problems with their trip. If the weather is pleasant, as it often is in July, a stroll through the Cave of the Winds and Hurricane Deck is the perfect way to cool down. For this special holiday, many sights around the area will be hosting fireworks over the water and in other locations, offering nighttime entertainment that can only be seen a few times a year.
Photo: Fabio Lotti/Fotolia
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»Sleeping Bear Dunes, MI
It is tradition to spend Independence Day in Sleeping Bear Dunes by camping, cooking out over a fire, and enjoying all of the spectacles that nature has to offer, from the lakeshore to the stars at night. However, for guests who wish to experience both that and a more traditional style Fourth of July celebration, they can take a short trip to Glen Arbor, a small town located adjacent to the dunes. In Glen Arbor the celebrations begin with a flag raising ceremony in the morning, accompanied by patriotic music and keynote presentations from locals. After that, typically around midday, is the Independence Day parade filled with floats, performers, food, music, and fun.
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»Yellowstone National Park, WY
Yellowstone National Park was conceived and founded as a monument that is preserved in the spirit of American heritage, a gift from the past to the future, and a testament to the wealth of America’s environmental riches. Spending Independence Day in the park does not hold true to any of the traditional ways to celebrate the holiday, as there are no parades or special music, and fireworks are banned. However, spending the Fourth of July in Yellowstone celebrates the birth of the United States by enjoying some of the best natural attractions the country has to offer, from Old Faithful to the Morning Glory pool to Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon to the wild buffalo that roam the lands.
Photo: Lynn Yeh/Fotolia
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»Yosemite National Park, CA
Yosemite National Park is quite the popular destination for Fourth of July travellers, partly because of its unbridled access to some of California’s most iconic natural features and partly because the typical long weekend allows for a more relaxed experience. No matter what the reasons, however, the fact remains that Independence Day in Yosemite is a busy time of year. Guests who wish to visit the park during this time should be aware that campsites will book up fast, so it is advised to arrive early to secure them. Wildlife in the area are more active during this time of year, so fireworks are banned and driving slowly is encouraged since there may be animals on the roads. Even with all the restrictions this holiday brings, the gorgeous weather, access to nature, and potential to spot wildlife make the trip more than worth it.
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»New York City, NY
As is often the case with New York City, there are more celebrations going on for Independence Day than one family could ever hope to attend, which is perfect because it means a visit to the Big Apple will keep everyone endlessly entertained. For the traditional route of celebration, nearly every neighborhood in the city hosts their own variety of Fourth of July parade with a unique flare on the celebration, and fireworks are set off in many locations throughout the Big Apple, so catching a glimpse of a variety of firework shows is possible from most locations. Non traditional celebrations can be found as well, from hotdog eating contests on Coney Island to rooftop restaurants offering special holiday discounts.
Photo: All king of people/Fotolia
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»Poconos Mountains, PA
Camping in the Poconos Mountains during early July is almost certain to reward visitors with stunning weather, a plethora of natural animals and plants to observe, and all of the summer fun that the Poconos Mountains have to offer. For those visitors who wish to experience the best of both worlds and spend the day hiking or biking and then catch Independence Day fireworks in the evening, a visit to the Shawnee Mountain Ski Area is the ideal destination. It is known for its annual firework display, and guests are invited to bring their own chair or blanket for slopeside seating. While they wait for the show to begin there is a DJ playing music, food and craft vendors, and performers about. There is a small fee to enter, and all proceeds from the event benefit the Shawnee Mountains Volunteer Fire Department.
Photo: Christian Hinkle/Fotolia
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»Jackson Hole, WY
Visitors who desire a traditional Fourth of July celebration will be pleased to know that Jackson Hole hosts a variety of events that fit the bill of any Independence Day itinerary. The day begins with a community breakfast to raise money for a local charitable society, then launches into the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce Fourth of July Parade. The parade is a patriotic display typically filled with music, horses, roller skaters, dancers, classic cars, clowns, and performers all celebrating the birth of the United States of America. Following the parade there is music in town, almost always a rodeo, and fireworks after the sun sets.
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»Park City, UT
Park City is no stranger to celebrating American holidays, and Independence Day brings the best of both worlds to this city, typically with gorgeous summer weather and patriotic celebration. The day almost always launches with a 5k run and pancake breakfast, a good way to get fueled and energized for the activities ahead. After the race is finished, the late morning and early afternoon are almost always filled with children’s activities, rugby games, volleyball tournaments, music, food and drink, and other family friendly options. The later afternoon brings a barbeque and more live music, and as dusk comes around the firework show begins and lasts into the night.
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Summertime in the Emerald City is nothing short of amazing, and the chance to spend the Fourth of July in Seattle should not be passed up. Many neighborhoods through the city host their own parades, fireworks, and small festivals, but the one that seems to draw the biggest crowds is Seafair Summer 4th, a celebration that takes place at Gas Works Park. This celebration includes food vendors, entertainment for families and adults, beverage gardens, pie eating contests, game competitions, sack races and other activities that carry on into the evening. After the sun sets everyone finds their seats on the lawn or in the reserved seating sections to watch a massive fireworks display over Lake Union.
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25 Best 4th of July Vacations
- Wisconsin Dells, WI, Photo: Courtesy of Lorraine Swanson - Fotolia.com
- New Braunfels, TX, Photo: Courtesy of Aaron - Fotolia.com
- Bar Harbor, ME, Photo: Courtesy of f11photo - Fotolia.com
- Mt. Rushmore, SD, Photo: Courtesy of clsdesign - Fotolia.com
- Block Island, RI, Photo: Courtesy of ArenaCreative - Fotolia.com
- Bozeman, MT, Photo: Courtesy of John - Fotolia.com
- Elko, NV, Photo: Elko Convention & Visitors Authority
- Lake Tahoe, CA, Photo: Courtesy of maislam - Fotolia.com
- Nashville, TN, Photo: Courtesy of Heather - Fotolia.com
- Philadelphia, PA, Photo: Courtesy of John - Fotolia.com
- Telluride, CO, Photo: Courtesy of avmedved - Fotolia.com
- Virginia Beach, VA, Photo: Courtesy of Vadim - Fotolia.com
- Washington, DC, Photo: Courtesy of Douglas - Fotolia.com
- Chicago, IL, Photo: Courtesy of EleSi - Fotolia.com
- Asheville, NC, Photo: Courtesy of jonbilous - Fotolia.com
- Narragansett, RI, Photo: Courtesy of jiawangkun - Fotolia.com
- Niagara Falls, NY, Photo: Courtesy of Fabio Lotti - Fotolia.com
- Sleeping Bear Dunes, MI, Photo: Courtesy of ehrlif - Fotolia.com
- Yellowstone National Park, WY, Photo: Courtesy of Lynn Yeh - Fotolia.com
- Yosemite National Park, CA, Photo: Courtesy of Rowan - Fotolia.com
- New York City, NY, Photo: Courtesy of All king of people - Fotolia.com
- Poconos Mountains, PA, Photo: Courtesy of Christian Hinkle - Fotolia.com
- Jackson Hole, WY, Photo: Courtesy of srongkrod - Fotolia.com
- Park City, UT, Photo: Courtesy of karagrubis - Fotolia.com
- Seattle, WA, Photo: Courtesy of paulfell - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Javier Castro - Fotolia.com
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