July 4th is now synonymous with daylong beach parties, massive firework displays, parades, and long weekend getaways. But beyond that, this holiday is the birthday of what we know today as the United States of America.
No matter where you are in the US, it is guaranteed you'll find something to do on this important day. There's everything from traditional parties, to patriotic Independence Day commemorations, to all-out barbecue parties, to quirky celebrations, and more. For someone looking to spend the holidays the best way possible, the number of celebrations to choose from all across the country can be overwhelming, so here are some of the best destinations where you should celebrate Independence Day at least once in your lifetime.
I'm starting the list with an unexpected destination. Gatlinburg is famous for being the home of the country's first Independence Day parade each year. (Not the first in the country, but the earliest start time each year.) Since 1976, their parade has started right at midnight on the 4th, followed by the River Raft Regatta at noon, and culminating with the firework display over downtown Gatlinburg. So, make sure that you have enough energy to spend a 24-hour Independence Day celebration!
This city is one of the most important places to celebrate the 4th of July since it is the birthplace of our country. The celebration runs from 5 pm to 11 pm, including a parade through the historic center of the city and a concert on the Parkway. Don't forget to also visit the important landmarks in the city, like Independence Hall, Declaration House, the Betsy Ross House, Carpenters' Hall, Congress Hall, and more. These places will help you better understand the meaning behind July 4th. But, its not all history here; you can end your celebration with the unmissable fireworks display over the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
The capital of the country cannot be missed on this list. This celebration is more formal than many others in the country, so if you're feeling like going classic and having a passive celebration, this is your place. DC's celebration, named "A Capitol Fourth" starts with a parade on the National Mall, followed by a performance by The National Symphony Orchestra and ends with a spectacular fireworks display over the city.
New York City and Macy's have an excellent celebratory relationship. Not only does Macy's run the Thanksgiving Day Parade, but they also run the 4th of July fireworks display over the Hudson River (or East River, depending on the year). Each 4th, everyone heads to the waterfront (all along Manhattan, New Jersey, and Brooklyn) to see what has been at points in history the biggest fireworks display on earth. They might not hold the record at the moment, but who knows, maybe they'll break it again in the future? The show is free, but if you're up for a good party, many rooftops around the city feature VIP parties that go all night long.
Bristol, Rhode Island
Did you know that Bristol has the oldest continuous 4th of July celebration in the country? Their first parade started in 1785 and it has run every single year since then. In fact, Bristol is so proud of Independence Day that they kick off the celebrations on Flag Day, June 14, and end up with the famous parade on July 4th. Contrary to most celebrations around the country, their fireworks light the sky on the 3rd of July.
Boston can't be left out of this list for obvious reasons - Tea Party, anyone? Like most other cities, Boston celebrates the 4th of July with a big fireworks display, which can be seen from along the waterfront or even from dinner cruises on the Charles River. Like in Philadelphia, you should take some extra time to see the historical sites, including the historic ships in the harbor, Faneuil Hall, and the Old State House, among others.
Mount Rushmore, South Dakota
The beauty behind Mount Rushmore's Independence Day celebration is the man-made wonder it displays the face of four of the most venerated American Presidents: Theodore Roosevelt, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln. You can reach the Mount Rushmore National Memorial through the Avenue of Flags from the Concession Building to the Presidential Trail a half-mile trail that will get you up close to the carved faces. Every year, Mount Rushmore presents several commemorative events that run from July 3rd and culminate on the 4th. Contrary to other celebrations, Mount Rushmore does not have a firework display; instead, they have a traditional Evening Lighting Ceremony at 9pm, held in the Main Amphitheatre of the memorial.
Where is your favorite place to celebrate the 4th of July?
No matter where your adventures take you, make sure you have the right travel insurance coverage for the experience!