This July, America will be celebrating her 242nd Birthday and millions of Americans will revel in honor of her glory. With the Fourth of July falling on a Wednesday this year, it presents the perfect opportunity to take a long weekend and travel somewhere new. Here's how the folks in cities across the nation will be celebrating:
For the past 41 years, New York City has hosted the Macy's 4th of July Fireworks Show—the biggest fireworks display in the country. Each year an average of three million people gather to watch as the fireworks flicker and boom over the East River. Already crowned America's biggest fireworks display, this year's show promises to be even bigger, debuting 20 new special effects.
This year's Macy's 4th of July Fireworks Show might be worth the trip. If you do plan on attending the show in person, be sure to snag your viewing spot early on July 4th. You can get the best views from Houston Street, 23rd Street, 34th Street, or 42nd Street when watching from Midtown. In lower Manhattan, you will have spectacular views from the ground level of Broad Street, the upper level of Old Slip, or at Pearl and Frankfort. If Brooklyn is more your style, head to Brooklyn Bridge Park or The Brooklyn Promenade to get the best view.
And while you're in the Big Apple, be sure to catch a Broadway show; visit the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, and Central Park; or dine at some of the city's best restaurants.
If the thought of being surrounded by three million people seems a bit overwhelming, try attending a Fourth of July celebration that is slightly more subdued. Minneapolis' Red, White and Boom festival is just as magnificent, attracting a much smaller crowd of 75,000 people each year.
At the Red, White and Boom festival, you'll never get bored, as the festival offers a large variety of activities to keep you entertained. If you like fitness, register for the Half Marathon that takes place at 6:30AM on July 4th. After the race, join in on the Fourth of July fun with plenty of family-friendly activities, live music, food vendors, and, of course, the fireworks show over the Mississippi River.
Grab a spot at the optimal viewing area: The Stone Arch Bridge. You can also get a great view of the show at Gold Medal Park, Mill City Museum—with VIP access for $35 per person that also lets you tour the museum—, or the Guthrie Endless Bridge. Or, catch dinner and a show by watching from one of the many Minneapolis rooftop restaurants or bars.
If you want to experience a Fourth of July celebration with a side of sizzling heat, head to Houston. Despite a July average temperature of 94 degrees Fahrenheit, Houston has much to offer for the patriotic holiday. Music lovers will want to attend the Freedom Over Texas concert at Eleanor Tinsley Park, with a lineup that includes The Mavericks and Chris Young. In between performances, be sure to check out the food tents and beer gardens, or take the kids to the children's entertainment area. The event is held from 4:00PM for 10:00PM on July 4th, concluding with a fireworks show. You can experience all this for just $10.00 per ticket at the door, or $8.00 through July 3rd.
When the heat is actually what you want to escape, take a trip to Chicago for the Fourth of July. Although Chicago can have its hot and humid summer days, the average July temperature is 84 degrees Fahrenheit—a whole 10 degrees cooler than Houston's July temperatures. Plus, having the option to watch the fireworks directly on Lake Michigan allows for a cool lake breeze.
There are many places to catch the fireworks display in Chicago. Navy Pier offers plenty of activities to keep busy with, including the renowned (and recently updated) ferris wheel and other rides for kids (and adults) to enjoy. Grab a bite to eat or a cocktail to sip at one of the many restaurants along the Pier.
If you would rather avoid the crowds at Navy Pier, try visiting Millennium Park for the Grant Park Music Festival: Independence Day Salute. The festival is held from 6:30 to 8:00PM and features performances of classic patriotic songs.
Philadelphia is America’s birthplace so it’s no surprise they host a week-long Fourth of July celebration. On July 4th, one of the largest (and free) celebrations in the country takes place on Benjamin Franklin Parkway. First up is Party on the Parkway, where, from noon to 7:00PM, you can enjoy five blocks of games, arts and crafts, live music, dancing, food, and a zip-line. Be sure to stick around for the Wawa Welcome America Concert from 7:00 - 9:30PM. This year’s lineup includes headliner, Pitbull, and Tony and Grammy winner, Heather Headley—to name a few. Immediately following the concert is an unforgettable fireworks show to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence in this very city.
Take a trip to Seattle for a Fourth of July your kids can get on board with. The town of Bellevue—just across Lake Washington from Seattle—holds a Fourth of July celebration tailored towards families with young children. Called the Bellevue Family 4th, the celebration begins in the early afternoon with Bellevue Park’s Family Fun Zone, where families can enjoy live music, food, and rides. At night, attend a fireworks show choreographed to a live performance of the Bellevue Youth Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra continues to perform once the fireworks have completed, closing the day-long celebration.
Travel just beyond Dallas to Addison, Texas, a suburb home to just 19,000 residents. What makes Addison so special for the Fourth of July? The fact that nearly 500,000 people make the visit each year to experience the spectacular fireworks show called Kaboom Town. This fireworks display is made up of 3,500 lbs. of fireworks that span a full 30 minutes. In addition to an impressive fireworks show, you will also experience an air show, hosted by the Cavanaugh Flight Museum, as well as an endless amount of delicious fare, as Addison has the most eateries per capita of any other town in the country.
If you're interested in more of a beachy vacation, head west to San Francisco this Fourth of July. Their fireworks display takes place above the Bay and boasts 10,000 effects over a 25-minute period. You can catch a prime view of the fireworks from Pier 39, Fisherman's Wharf, or Coit Tower in Pioneer Park.
While visiting San Francisco, there are an endless amount of activities to enjoy. In addition to the gorgeous beaches this city has to offer, you can attend the Summer Opera or Filmore Jazz Festival, partake in Oysterfest at Golden Gate Park, or take a free walking tour around the city.
If you prefer the East Coast to the West Coast, check out one of America's most historic cities for the Fourth of July. The Boston POPS Fireworks Spectacular is famous for its choreographed performance to the Boston POPS Orchestra's rendition of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, complete with real cannon fire! The free show takes place on July4th, following performances by Rachel Platten, Rhiannon Giddens, and folk-rock American duo, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers. The gates open at 5:00PM so be sure to get there in time to secure a spot, as the venue tends to fill up quickly. Also be aware of prohibited items, such as coolers, backpacks, glass containers, cans, grills, and bicycles. The only liquids you may bring must be sealed and carried in a clear plastic container no bigger than two liters in size. In order to get a glimpse of the fireworks show without attending the concert, grab a spot along Memorial Drive on the Cambridge side of the Charles River.
In addition to quite literally a spectacular fireworks show, there are plenty of other sights to see and activities to keep you busy during your stay in Boston. On July 4th begin your day with the flag raising ceremony at 9:00AM on City Hall Plaza, followed by a parade to the Granary Burial Ground. After the parade, enjoy a reenactment of the July 18th, 1776 reading of the Declaration of Independence from the balcony of the Old State House.
The 37th Annual Boston Harborfest kicks off at noon on June 30th at the west end of Faneuil Hall Marketplace. The festival memorializes the city's colonial and nautical heritage, with historical reenactments, walking tours, scavenger hunts, and live entertainment.
Boston has so much to offer that you can extend your vacation past the Fourth of July and spend your trip whale watching, sailing during Sunday Brunch, or dining at any of the nearby restaurants to taste the local crab.
And finally, if you really want to experience a relaxing, yet exciting, Fourth of July vacation, head to Lake Tahoe. The fireworks show is unlike any other, thanks to the beautiful, mountainous backdrop joined by the glimmer of fireworks in the lake's reflection. Plus, there are countless activities to partake in across the many shoreline towns.
Take a cruise on the lake, complete the dinner, unlimited beer and wine, dancing, and a front-row view of the fireworks display. Or join one of the many beach parties along the shore, such as the July 3rd Fireworks and Beach Party at Kings Beach.