Who doesn’t love parades, old cars, and fireworks!? If you’re up for a road trip, head to one of these best places to celebrate the 4th of July in the United States? From America’s small town battlefields and memorials to big city parades and massive fireworks, we’ll show why these cool patriotic destinations should be good reason to celebrate our Nation’s freedom, liberty and independence!
So, grab the kids, pack the cooler and bring out the sparklers! We’re going to take you to 12 of America’s best birthday parties in the good ole U.S.A.!
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12 Best Places to Celebrate 4th of July in America
This list should get you and your family excited about cool events, parties, and fireworks to celebrate our Nation’s birthday! But also, they are patriotic destinations that teach us how we got to be America.
Depending on the venue, you may want to pack your wagon with your cooler, picnic blanket and beach chairs to relax and enjoy the patriotic celebrations of food, fun and fireworks!
So, put on your red, white and blue! Let’s see what the best places to celebrate the 4th of July American style!
Travel Pro Tip: It’s going to be a long day, so go prepared with your Travel Essentials to Pack in your Sightseeing Bag
Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia
A little known fact that the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock weren’t the first to land in America. The first settlers actually landed at Jamestown, Virginia.
Jamestown is listed as one of America’s National Historic Parks. Located on the Colonial Parkway near Williamsburg, Jamestown is totally worth visiting if you’re in the Williamsburg area.
Visitors can celebrate America’s big day with tons of events, demonstrations and exhibits in Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown.
Also, 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 loud and proud, heart-pounding sparkling fireworks! They do it right as there are pyrotechnic displays across the area, including Colonial Williamsburg, Historic Yorktown and Busch Gardens in Williamsburg.
Don’t forget to check out our visit to Jamestown; another one of favorite patriotic destinations in America!
Boston is where the fight for our American freedom began; making Beantown one of the best patriotic destinations in New England to take in 4th of July events!
So, celebrate the red, white and blue by bringing your picnic blanket, cooler and American spirit to enjoy the sights and sounds of the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular.
It’s one of America’s BEST Independence Day celebrations that takes place on July 3rd and 4th on the Esplanade next to the Charles River. And it’s free!!
Concerts in the historic Hatch Shell on both days feature Conductor Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra.
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.
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 5:00 pm on July 3rd, and 9:00 am on the 4th of July.
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 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!
And for the grand finale, over 10,000 pyrotechnics are launched over the Charles River at 10:30 pm!
Check out Boston Pop’s Video of the 1812 Overture presentation:
Statue of Liberty – New York York City, New York
Lady Liberty plays hostess to America’s biggest birthday celebration with tons of Fourth of July events in New York City!
The Lady in the Harbor reminds us of the freedom, independence and sacrifices that our Country has endured through the centuries; welcoming immigrants and American’s from all over.
So, New York City is the obvious place to celebrate our Nation’s birthday and homecoming to all who have come to America for freedom!
Get an up-close and personal view of the Statue of Liberty when you visit Liberty and Ellis Islands as well as visit the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration.
Fireworks are set off from the Brooklyn Bridge and barges on the lower East river. Head to the Brooklyn Bridge Park in DUMBO, Brooklyn Heights Promenade, or Frank Sinatra Park in Hoboken, NJ for some of the best views of the fireworks over the Manhattan skyline!
Travel Insider Tip: Check out Marco Feng’s 16 Places to Watch Fireworks Fourth of July in NYC
Washington D.C., District of Columbia
Washington D.C. is one of the best places to celebrate the 4th of July in America and for good reason. It’s our Nation’s Capitol.
From governing laws to honoring our Fallen Heroes and Nation’s past, Washington D.C. plays host to many different 4th of July events throughout the city. Just to name a few:
- Smithsonian Folklife Festival
- National Independence Day Parade
- Independence Day at George Washington’s Mount Vernon
- Washington Capitols MLB Home Game
- A Capitol Fourth Concert
- Fireworks on the National Mall
Complete information and updates on the Independence Day celebration can be found at www.nps.gov/foju.
And, there is no more hallowed ground than one that holds the remains of American Heroes who died for our freedom than in Arlington National Cemetery.
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 things to do. Most of them are free!
Washington D.C. Insider Tip: Are you visiting Arlington National Cemetery in the Spring, Summer or early Fall? If so, be sure to hydrate! It gets hot and humid in Arlington and to avoid heat related injuries. Check out their website, ANC Explorer, and download their app (lower right) to locate water fountains throughout the cemetery.
Gettysburg National Battlefield – Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
It’s mere coincidence that one of the biggest Civil War battles was fought during the days surrounding our Nation’s birthday in 1863.
According to History Channel, “Only a few hundred Virginians reached the Union line, and within minutes they all were dead, dying, or captured. In less than an hour, more than 7,000 Confederate troops had been killed or wounded. Both armies, exhausted, held their positions until the night of July 4, when Lee withdrew.”
So what better place to celebrate our America’s independence than Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
Gettysburg’s 4th of July events may include a Civil War reenactment (depending on year). 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 Gettysburg’s fireworks display.
Travel Pro Tip: Visit our 24+ Best Things to Do in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and 10 ways to explore Gettysburg for the best tips on how to get the best out of your visit to Gettysburg.
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!
Part of Put-in-Bay’s 4th of July Celebration includes new American citizens 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 will be held that evening from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm. The Concert is Free and open to the public and will be followed by the fireworks show.
And then, 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 Put-in-Bay as one of your best places to celebrate the 4th of July!
Travel Insider Tip: While you’re vacationing on Lake Erie’s shoreline, we encourage you to visit the Historic Waterfront Port of Erie, Pennsylvania
Gateway Arch – St. Louis, Missouri
If you’re visiting St. Louis during the July 4th weekend, you and your family can celebrate at Fair Saint Louis. This annual three-day Independence Day festival is full of live music, air shows, family fun and fantastic fireworks; all under the Gateway Arch!
The party takes place primarily under 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. This is a party you don’t want to miss!
Outer Banks, North Carolina
Outer Banks on the Atlantic Coast of North Carolina is one of our favorites! It rocks as a summer vacation destination. And while visitors can splash all you want on the beautiful sandy beaches, climb the lighthouses, and see the wild horses, Outer Banks is quite the happening place to enjoy American history and celebrate our Nation’s birthday too!
So, if you’re going to be celebrating the America’s birthday on the Outer Banks, you’ll want to check out Outer Banks 4th of July Celebration Tips.
But, let’s not forget what important event happened on the Outer Banks. Trek on over to Kitty Hawk to the Wright Brothers National Historic Site. You can walk the original runway and get a glimpse of the hangar where America’s first flight took place.
Travel Insider Tip: While you’re there, check out our other amazing things to do in Outer Banks!
Mount Rushmore National Memorial – South Dakota
Four Presidents who believed in America sit high above in the Black Hills of South Dakota. And when better to visit one of America’s patriotic destinations, Mount Rushmore, on July 4th!? But, be prepared for high temperatures and lots of people.
You don’t need reservations to visit Mount Rushmore National Memorial.
While there are no entrance fees to the memorial, 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. National Park Pass Holders are not exempt from paying the parking fee.
NOTE: there will NOT be fireworks at Mount Rushmore National Memorial in 2022.
Travel Insider Tip: Did you know that South Dakota isn’t the only place to that has Bison and Badlands? Check out our article, Theodore Roosevelt National Park: Bison and Badlands
The Alamo – San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio’s The 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. And, 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 day siege of the Alamo.
Today, the Alamo is the heart of San Antonio and Texas’ most visited historic landmark. Make it a point to visit it, inside and out. It’s not a far walk to San Antonio’s River Walk.
But, besides visiting the Alamo, San Antonio truly is one of the best places to celebrate the 4th of July all in the name of liberty.
And, there’s plenty of other 4th of July events surrounding the San Antonio area:
Helotes Independence Day Celebration – 12210 Leslie Road, Helotes
City of San Antonio Fourth of July Celebration – 1103 Cincinnati Ave., San Antonio
Leon Valley July Fourth Parade and Fireworks – 6440 Evers Road, Leon Valley
Sea World San Antonio Fourth of July Celebration – 10500 Sea World Drive, San Antonio
Six Flags July Fourth Fest – 17000 I-10, San Antonio
Independence Day at the Alamo – 300 Alamo Plaza, San Antonio
Schertz 4th of July Jubilee – Schertz
New Braunfels Fourth of July Spectacular – Landa Park, New Braunfels
Boerne Fire Department Fireworks (2022) – 106 City Park Road, Boerne
Travel Pro Tip: Before heading to San Antonio, learn Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting the Alamo
Golden Gate Bridge – California
The Golden Gate Bridge hosts an array of 4th of July events in San Francisco. And, it has one of the most amazing 4th of July fireworks displays in the United States. Huge booming pyrotechnics are set off from barges north of Pier 39 and Aquatic Park’s Municipal Pier.
During the day, you can take in lots of exciting parades, great live music, bay cruises and events for the whole family!
We’ve been told to get the best viewing sites, head on over to Aquatic Park, Coit Tower, Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghiradelli Square and The Cannery. However, you’ll want to get down there before 9:00 pm to score a great seat!
Pearl Harbor – Oahu, Hawaii
Though Hawaii was the last state to join the Union, they certainly aren’t last in celebrating our Nation’s independence. Visitors can join the resident islanders and other vacationers for Oahu’s Fourth of July Freedom Fest!
However, we understand showing your patriotic spirit isn’t always about the loud celebratory fanfare and pomp and circumstance. Perhaps visiting a quiet memorial on America’s birthday may be more of what you’re vying for.
Located at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu on the island of Oahu, the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial memorializes those lost during the horrific attack 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.
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.
Wrapping up our 12 best places to celebrate the 4th of July
We hope our list of these 4th of July celebrations inspire you to go all out this year to enjoy America’s independence.
Even if you can’t make it to one of these best places to celebrate our Nation’s birthday, almost every city, town, and community plans has their own way and events to ring the bell of freedom.
So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get planning your family’s unforgettable Fourth of July getaway!
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