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The 16 Best Places to Go for the Fourth of July

Across the United States, the nation celebrates its independence from Great Britain with fireworks, parades and local traditions like flyovers, car shows and concerts. For those looking for all-American Fourth of July activities complete with waving flags and lots of red, white and blue, we’ve compiled a list of cities throughout the U.S. that will be celebrating in a big way.

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Fireworks fanatics will be thrilled this year as the Macy’s pyrotechnics are once again launched from the Hudson River for the first time in more than a decade – meaning they can be seen from several locations in Manhattan and New Jersey. The spectacle will light up the New York City night with lights and sounds as thousands of fireworks shells are shot into the sky during one of the country’s largest Independence Day celebrations. Surprisingly, NYC does not host a commemorative parade. For those looking to escape the city, day-trippers can head to Long Island and Fire Island for beach activities, barbecues and fireworks festivities.

Hanover, New Hampshire

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For a feel-good holiday, Hanover will be hosting the Old Fashioned 4th of July Celebration, which includes an apple pie eating contest, classic games, a hometown parade, live entertainment and pony rides. When it’s time to eat, experience the theme “Sweet Summertime” with classic treats like juicy watermelon and ice cream taking center stage. What’s more, city vehicles like fire trucks will be on view for an up-close look.

Boston

Kyle Klein|Courtesy of Meet Boston

As one of the oldest cities in the U.S., Boston has a long history of American patriotism and is considered to be the birthplace of the American Revolution. The Independence Day celebrations span several days and include the Boston Harborfest, complete with Chowderfest and military band performances. On the Fourth of July, there’s a free outdoor concert by the Boston Symphony Orchestra that concludes with the firing of real cannons, live ringing church bells and an impressive fireworks show above the Charles River.

If you want to enjoy fireworks without leaving your hotel, Fairmont Copley Plaza is hosting a private viewing party (for Fairmont Gold guests only) on the property’s rooftop deck to watch the sky spectacular and soak in the views of Back Bay.

New Haven, Connecticut

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During the day, travelers can explore more than 2,000 acres of parkland in this Connecticut destination. From the New Haven Green to East Rock Park, the city’s greenspaces offer numerous hiking and walking trails. According to recent visitors, the Yale Peabody Museum − which recently reopened after a four-year closure and renovation − is well worth a visit. The natural history museum has 14 million specimens, dinosaur exhibits and North American dioramas.

When it’s time to eat, get a pizza. Recently, there was a statement entered into the Congressional Record by Rep. Rosa DeLauro declaring New Haven is the “Pizza Capital of the United States.” As the sun goes down, visitors and residents of New Haven will gather at the Wilbur Cross High School field to be awed by the 2024 New Haven annual fireworks show starting at 9:30 p.m.

If you want to plan to spend the night, check out the Hotel Marcel – a leader in sustainability.

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The Fourth is on a Thursday this year, so celebrate the holiday the weekend before with tickets to the Festival Foods Lights the Isthmus in Madison – Wisconsin’s capital. You’ll listen to local bands, watch in wonder as fireworks light the night sky and indulge in a plethora of food and drink options. Book an overnight getaway at The Edgewater, a historic lakefront hotel with a spa and dining, and catch a live water ski show by the Mad City Water Ski Team on Lake Mendota.

Columbus, Ohio

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This summer, head to Columbus on July 3 for the Red, White & BOOM event with live music, a parade, a street festival and fireworks. While there, make time to visit the National Veterans Memorial and Museum, the only museum in the country that honors veterans from all branches of service; visitors go through an interactive experience showcasing personal narrated stories of veterans.

Chicago

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Catch fireworks and more lakeside in the Windy City. Chicago boasts festivities that include food festivals, river and boat cruises, and the Independence Day Salute music festival in Grant Park. You can also watch the thrilling NASCAR Chicago Street Race on July 6 and 7, 2024. Spend the holiday relaxing or playing at the beach, riding the Centennial Wheel at Navy Pier, seeing the city’s Riverwalk from the water on a Chicago riverboat tour, catching a Chicago Cubs game, or sipping a cocktail with skylines views at Offshore Rooftop – the country’s largest rooftop bar.

Traverse City, Michigan

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A visit to this Michigan city for a July vacation means you can not only see spectacular fireworks, but also taste delicious sweet or tart cherries. Recognized as the “Cherry Capital of the World,” Traverse City will host the National Cherry Festival from June 29 to July 6, 2024. The festival features cherry-centric cuisine, as well as concerts (with artists such as the Goo Goo Dolls and Leanne Morgan), parades, midway rides, and an arts and crafts fair. Visitors will also be wowed by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels showing off their skills at the National Cherry Festival Airshow.

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Amy Smith|Courtesy of Walt Disney World

As this city is the home of Disney World, fireworks are a nightly occurrence in Orlando, but expect even more of an extravaganza on Independence Day. Of course, all the top Orlando theme parks such as Walt Disney World Resort, SeaWorld Orlando and LEGOLAND Florida Resort will have fireworks, but you’ll also be able to see some for free from downtown Orlando’s Lake Eola Park at the Fireworks at the Fountain event. For a unique way to celebrate the holiday, check out the Hall of Presidents at Magic Kingdom, drive a real tank at Tank America or protect the White House at America’s Escape Game.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Courtesy of Visit Myrtle Beach

The epitome of summer is beach days, outdoor concerts, watermelon slices and fireworks. Have it all during the Fourth of July in Myrtle Beach. There will be multiple fireworks shows to choose from, including Barefoot Landing, Cherry Grove Pier and Broadway at the Beach. Explore other family-friendly events in the area, too, such as a golf cart parade at Surfside Beach, a boat parade from Garden City Point to MarshWalk, and a military flyover at the Salute from the Shore event. For accommodations, consider the U.S. News top-rated Island Vista Resort with two outdoor pools, a lazy river and family-focused activities.

Washington, D.C.

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Unsurprisingly, the nation’s capital is set to impress with several July Fourth festivities. One of the most notable options is the iconic Willard Ardbeg Annual Independence Day BBQ and Block Party, held on-site at Willard InterContinental’s Cafe du Parc terrace. Celebrate America’s birthday block party-style in Washington, D.C., with mouthwatering hot dogs, burgers, ice pops and patriotic cocktails.

Be sure to catch the National Independence Day Parade on Constitution Avenue, featuring bands, drill teams, dignitaries, floats, giant balloons and celebrities. To view the fireworks extravaganza, head to the National Mall, book a cruise on the Potomac River, lounge at a rooftop bar or bike up the Mount Vernon Trail.

Nashville, Tennessee

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It’s no wonder that Nashville, a mecca for country music, will be hosting a free concert with multiplatinum country singer Chris Young as the headliner for this holiday. The Let Freedom Sing! Music City July 4th event will host what’s billed as one of the largest fireworks shows in the country. The show is also set to include lighted drones synchronized to live music from the Grammy-winning Nashville Symphony. You can also spend the day making a splash at the Nashville Shores Water Park, which will hold a hot dog eating contest on July Fourth, or sip a cool beverage on one of the rooftop bars along Lower Broadway.

When it’s time to turn in for the night, consider the top-rated JW Marriott Nashville for its steakhouse and rooftop pool.

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If you prefer vacations to laid-back beach towns, Los Angeles has about 75 miles of coastline and is perfect for weekend getaways in July. Spend Independence Day enjoying the eternal sunshine while playing volleyball, catching waves, sailing or enjoying a family picnic with farm-to-table dishes during the day. Once night falls, you can watch multiple fireworks shows while roasting s’mores over a fire pit.

About 25 miles inland from Santa Monica, the city of Pasadena has the longest-running fireworks show on the West Coast since it began in 1926. In 2024, visitors can head to the Rose Bowl Stadium for an electrifying soccer match between crosstown rivals – the LA Galaxy and LA Football Club – followed by the fireworks pageantry. Before and during the match there will also be activations honoring local veterans. Make it a long weekend with a stay at the pet-friendly Pasadena Hotel & Pool, only about 3 miles from the Rose Bowl Stadium. If you like to hike, the city is on the edge of the Angeles National Forest, with approximately 700,000 acres to explore.

Las Vegas

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Sin City knows how to throw a party. For an adults-only Fourth of July celebration in Las Vegas, there are a number of nightclubs and pools with over-the-top blowouts to commemorate Independence Day. Start off with an epic pool darty (day party) at places such as Drai’s Beachclub – the Strip’s only rooftop beach club, on the rooftop of The Cromwell hotel – or LIV Beach at the newly opened Fontainebleau. Don’t miss the mega fireworks displays on The Strip or at Freemont Street.

To offset the cocktail intake, dine at any number of award-winning restaurants along The Strip. Some newly opened buzz-worthy eateries include The Bedford by Martha Stewart and Vanderpump à Paris at Paris Las Vegas, LPM Restaurant & Bar at The Cosmopolitan, and Chyna Club at Fontainebleau.

San Francisco

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The City by the Bay will host an array of waterfront commemorations, including a memorable fireworks display that can best be seen from Aquatic Park and Fort Mason or Pier 39. If you’d like to watch the show from the water, hop aboard one of the San Francisco Bay cruises offered by the Red & White Fleet or Blue & Gold Fleet. Enjoy festive live music on the Fourth, and the weekends before and after, throughout San Francisco at places such as Pier 39, Yerba Buena Gardens, the Fillmore Jazz Festival, Stern Grove and Aquatic Park. There are plenty of cool or quirky vacation rentals for a last-minute July getaway to the city.

Aspen, Colorado

Courtesy of Aspen Meadows Resort

For a chic small-town Independence Day experience, pay a visit to the charming mountain town of Aspen. With pleasant temperatures, scenic views and an abundance of outdoor activities, this destination provides an old fashioned feel, with a touch of luxury. On the Fourth, you’ll find activities such as the quintessential Main Street parade, a car show, live music and dancing, a family fun run, an aircraft flyover, and a community barbecue.

Spend a night or two at the Aspen Meadows Resort, situated on 40 acres in the secluded West End. The property’s restaurant patio is the best place to watch the dramatic laser light show, which replaced traditional fireworks due to high fire danger. Outdoor lovers will find plenty of ways to keep busy, including fly-fishing, biking, horseback riding and rafting. There are also opportunities to experience art through a walking art tour, an art scavenger hunt and the Bayer Center.

Why Trust U.S. News Travel

Sharael Kolberg is a U.S. News & World Report contributor who looks forward to Fourth of July activities and never tires of a good fireworks show. Having lived in San Francisco for nearly 15 years, she always enjoyed walking to Aquatic Park to see the display over the Bay. Kolberg used her personal experience and research skills to curate this list of the best places to go for the Fourth of July.

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Bernard Greenhall
Bernard Greenhall

Bernard is a sports and physical education expert with years of experience. He's passionate about promoting health and wellness through physical activity, and he's worked with athletes and non-athletes alike to help them achieve their fitness goals. Bernard holds a degree in Physical Education and is dedicated to staying up-to-date with the latest trends and research in his field.

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