12 Patriotic Destinations to Celebrate America’s Birthday!

AOL Patriotic Birthday Destinations

There’s no better place to celebrate America’s Birthday than at any of our Country’s patriotic destinations. Almost every city and town brings out the flags and buntings of red, white and blue and decks out the parks, windows and doors. From battlefields to memorials, parades to parties, we’ll help show some cool places to let freedom ring! So, bring out the cake and candles and let’s get this party started! Here’s just a small collection of destinations to celebrate our Nation’s independence!

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We think this list will get you and your family excited about not only the fireworks, parties and celebration but the reason behind them. So, put on your walking shoes, grab your camera and let’s GO party American style!

Boston Pops on the River Charles – Massachusetts

Boston Fireworks
Photo courtesy Michael Blanchard and Boston Magazine

Boston is where the fight for our American freedom began and this is definitely one of the best patriotic destinations if you’re up in New England! Celebrate our Country’s birthday by bringing your picnic blanket and American spirit to enjoy the sights and sounds of the Boston Pops and fireworks along the banks of the Charles River! Oh! And it’s free!!

The Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular, America’s best Independence Day celebration, takes place on July 3rd and 4th on the Esplanade next to the Charles River. Concerts in the historic Hatch Shell on both days feature Conductor Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra.

You’ll want to get there early to mark your spot! Entrances to the secured areas (the Oval and the Esplanade’s Island/Lagoon) open at 5pm on July 3rd, and 9am on the 4th.

If you want to be able to actually see the concert, you need to be within the Oval, the grassy area in front of the Hatch Shell where the musicians play. Or find yourself a comfortable spot on either side of the river or the Greenway.

The concert on July 4th is part of a fabulous show including a fighter jet military flyover, and an array of music concerts during the day.

The big show begins at 8:00 pm with the playing of the National Anthem. The music is amazing but the magnificent explosive and heart-thumping finale, 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky, will finish with dramatic drumrolls and heart-stopping cannon fire while church bells ring throughout Beantown! At 10:30 pm, over 10,000 pyrotechnics being launched in the middle of the Charles River!

Golden Gate Bridge – California

San Francisco Fireworks

Did you know the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco Bay has been an amazing fireworks display front drop for years. Huge booming pyrotechnics are set off from barges north of Pier 39 and Aquatic Park’s Municipal Pier. So, to get the best viewing sites, head on over to Aquatic Park, Coit Tower, Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghiradelli Square and the Cannery. You’ll want to get there about 9:00 pm or even earlier to score a great seat and celebrate.

And, during the day, you can take in lots of exciting parades, lots of live music, bay cruises and events for the whole family!

U.S.S. Arizona Memorial – Hawaii

USS Arizona Hawaii

All Fourth of July celebrations aren’t always include pomp and circumstance with loud fanfare. Sometimes, a quiet memorial might be more what you’re looking for.

Located in Honolulu on the island of Oahu, the Arizona Memorial’s 21-window structure memorializes those lost on the U.S.S. Arizona uring the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. The names of the lost and Fallen are inscribed on the marble wall inside. The echoes inside the haunt the souls of the remaining and their families.

The USS Arizona Memorial program is free for all visitors. The visitor center and museums are also free. And while you’re there, take a walk over to the U.S.S. Oklahoma Memorial. Both memorials will make you appreciate the sacrifices these brave men made for our Nation.

If you want to liven things up after paying homage to our Nation’s Fallen, you can check out more island events here.

Gateway Arch – Missouri

St Louis Arch St Louis

When driving through St. Louis, you can’t miss the gleaming 630 foot shiny stainless steel arch that signifies the ‘Gateway to the West’. It’s located at the site of St. Louis’ founding on the west bank of the Mississippi River. The Gateway Arch is the tallest arch in the world! There’s a beautifully manicured park it lies on for great family picnics and strolls along the river.

You can celebrate at Fair Saint Louis July 4-6 for America’s Biggest Birthday Party under the Gateway Arch. This annual three-day Independence Day festival is full of live music, air shows, family fun and fantastic fireworks. Don’t forget your sunscreen and water!

Statue of Liberty – New York

Ellis Island Statue of Liberty

The lady in the harbor that welcomed immigrants is a perfect place to celebrate our Nation’s diversity and homecoming! You can get an up-close view of the Statue of Liberty when you visit Liberty and Ellis Islands as well as visit thee Ellis Island Immigration Museum.

The fireworks are set off from Brooklyn Bridge and barges on the lower East river. Head to  Brooklyn Bridge Park in DUMBO, Brooklyn Heights Promenade, or Frank Sinatra Park in Hoboken, NJ for the best view of the fireworks over the Manhattan skyline! Pack a picnic lunch to save money and time spent in food lines.

Kitty Hawk – North Carolina

North Carolina Kitty Hawk

Not only is the Outer Banks in North Carolina a great place to celebrate our Nation’s birthday but also, it rocks as a summer vacation destination! You can splash all you want at the beaches, climb the lighthouses, and see the wild horses!

But you need to trek on over to Kitty Hawk as it’s famous because of two brothers who became the first to fly! So, check out the Wright Brothers National Historic Site! You can walk the original runway and get a glimpse of the hangar! We recommend early mornings for great photography shots!

While you’re there, check out our other amazing things to do in Outer Banks!

Put-in-Bay – Ohio

AOL - Put-in-Bay Ohio

What an incredible little island that packs lots of historic punch! Take a ferry from the mainland Sandusky to Put-in-Bay (also known as South Bass Island). But you won’t get the island vibe like the Keys. It’s different here.

History dates back to the war of 1812 when Put-in-Bay became Oliver Hazard Perry’s headquarters. One of 20 islands located in the western shallow end of Lake Erie, Put-in-Bay harbor served as the launching point from which Perry set sail to defeat the British fleet!

New American Citizens will be taking their oaths at the Annual Perry Peace Memorial Naturalization Ceremony to be held on the lower plaza at 11:00 AM. A concert by the Patriots Symphonic Band a 60 piece Non-profit band from Lorain County Ohio,  will be held that evening from 6 to 7:30 PM, The Concert is Free and open to the public and will be followed by the fireworks show.

Put-in-Bay’s residents and business owners sponsor one of the best fireworks displays on Lake Erie. Keeping tradition, fireworks are always held on July 4th. So, put this as one of your Midwest patriotic destinations to celebrate America’s birthday!

Gettysburg National Battlefield – Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Gettysburg Reenactment

It’s mere coincidence that one of the biggest Civil War battles was fought during the days surrounding our Nation’s birthday in 1863.

So, if you plan to visit Gettysburg, make sure you do it during the fourth of July weeklong celebration! There’s usually a war reenactment. Also, there is the 4th of July Patriotic Pops Concert and Fireworks on the Memorial Field at Gettysburg College. Your evening will begin at 6:30 pm with live music and then followed by a Gala Pops Orchestra playing patriotic marches and tunes two hours later. But don’t get up and leave just yet because you’ll get the best seat to watch the fireworks display.

Oh! And you’ll definitely want to read about how we toured Gettysburg!

Mount Rushmore National Memorial – South Dakota

AOL_Mount Rushmore Busts Flags

Four Presidents who believed in America sit high above in the Black Hills of South Dakota. And when better to visit one of South Dakota’s patriotic destinations, Mount Rushmore, on July 4th!? But, be prepared for high temperatures and lots of people!

No reservations are needed to visit Mount Rushmore National Memorial. There are no entrance fees to the memorial however there is a required $10 parking fee for private passenger vehicles which are valid for one year from date of purchase. Seniors age 62 and older parking fee is $5. And, Active Duty Military parking is free. Parking fees may be paid with cash, Mastercard or Visa credit card or traveler’s check.

National Park Annual, Military, Senior Pass, Access Pass and Every Kid In A Park Pass holders are not exempt from paying the parking fee.

Williamsburg and Jamestown – Virginia

Virginia Williamsburg Reenactment

There’s a little known fact that the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock on a cold Thanksgiving weren’t the first to land in America. The first settlers landed at Jamestown in Virginia!

Today, Jamestown is listed as one of America’s National Historic Parks and one worth visiting if you’re in the Williamsburg area. It’s located on the Colonial Parkway near Williamsburg. Don’t forget to check out our visit to Jamestown; another one of several patriotic destinations!

And then, celebrate America’s big day in Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown. Don’t miss the reading of the Declaration of Independence on the courthouse steps in Colonial Williamsburg, and the Fife and Drum Corps salute behind the courthouse.

Enjoy a family picnic lunch, then watch military exercises at American Revolution Museum at Yorktown.

And lastly, end the day with heart-pounding fireworks! They do it right here as there are displays across the area, including Colonial Williamsburg, Historic Yorktown and Busch Gardens.

The Alamo – Texas

AOL - Alamo San Antonio

San Antonio’s Alamo is the home of the 1836 battle where heroes, Esparza, Crocket, Bowie, and Travis died fighting for freedom.  Their sacrifice helped birth Texas and globally, put it on the map.  Their call for aid and refusal to surrender in the face of overwhelming odds stirred America and the world.  The seige lasted 13 days but there’s tons more in history to learn about the 13 days of siege of the Alamo.

Today, the Alamo is the heart of San Antonio and is Texas’ most visited historic landmark. Make it a point to visit it, inside and out.  Its not a far walk to the Riverwalk, so put this on your San Antonio To-Do’s as it’s one of Texas’ incredible patriotic destinations.

Arlington National Cemetery – Washington DC

Arlington National Cemetery Washington DC

There is no more hallowed ground than one that holds the remains of American Heroes who died for our freedom. Established during the Civil War in 1864, 624 acre Arlington National Cemetery also is home to the Tomb of the Unknowns and tens of thousands of Fallen American Heroes in the Arlington Memorial Amphitheater.

And after paying your respects, since you’re already in Washington D.C., visit the many other memorials and museums! Our Nation’s Capitol is jam-packed full of patriotic destinations! Most of them have free admission so it won’t break your wallets. We recommend each member of your family pack their own backpack lunch, carry lots of water and sun protection.

These are just a handful of great patriotic destinations to either go solo or take your family to celebrate America’s birthday! Almost every city, town, and community plans something to ring the bells of freedom. So, pack up your RV, camper or car and head out to party American style!!

Don’t forget to check out our Liberty Ports for more destinations!

 

 

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