From bangin’ fireworks displays and patriotic concerts to lip-smackin’ summer eats and old-fashioned games, these top five Fourth destinations certainly know how to wish America a happy birthday.
1. The National Mall, Washington D.C.
What better place to celebrate America, her birth, fight, and history, than the nation’s sprawling capital? The National Mall is home to iconic sights from the Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., and World War II Memorials to the Washington Monument. As you’d expect, the Capitol is bursting with things to do on the Fourth.
Start the day’s festivities with a late-morning Independence Day Parade followed by a performance from the United States Army Band’s ensemble, Downrange. Cap the night off on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol with a rocking concert commemorating America’s 240th birthday and the centennial of the National Park Service. The show ends on an explosive note with a magnificent fireworks display over the Washington Monument and Reflecting Pool.
2. Mount Vernon, Virginia
As the home of the United States’ first president, Mount Vernon is another natural Fourth destination. Chock-full of unique experiences from reenactments and live music (Revolution-era and otherwise) to an honest-to-goodness naturalization ceremony, the Independence Day celebration at President Washington’s estate is downright inspiring.
You know what goes exceptionally well with inspiration? Complimentary birthday cake savored under a sky of daytime fireworks after you’ve been paid a visit by the “first” first couple.
If you’re more inclined to kick back with a glittering nighttime display, Mount Vernon’s Independence Fireworks go off on July 2 at a separate (but equally awe-inspiring) event. Greet George and Martha Washington; try your hand at bocce ball; dance like it’s the 18th Century; sample colonial-style ice cream; #PoseLikethePrez; and enjoy a fireworks spectacular choreographed to patriotic masterpieces.
3. San Diego, California
As a beachside city, San Diego has no shortage of sandy spaces to kick back and enjoy family time and fireworks. What truly sets it apart is the wide array of daytime festivities at each of the “Independence Day depots” in town.
Kick the day off with a Fourth of July parade in wholesome Coronado. Just a short drive from the heart of San Diego, its small town charm is well-suited to a Fourth of July celebration complete with a brief parade, park concert, and private fireworks show over Glorietta Bay. You can’t beat the pristine Hotel Del Coronado for a backdrop, either.
Parents of younger children would fare well at Old Town, as well, where the morning parade is followed by an old fashioned Independence Day celebration including crafts and activities. Still want to see fireworks? No worries. Old Town festivities end at 4 p.m., leaving plenty of time to head to San Diego Bay for the Annual Big Bay Boom July 4 Fireworks Show.
4. Bend, Oregon
The high desert climate and forested areas make fireworks a little tricky in Bend, but you’ll hardly miss them at the annual Old Fashioned July 4th Festival. The eight-hour celebration kicks off at 8 a.m. with a pancake breakfast at Drake Park. Afterwards, you can head to Downtown Bend for the Pet Parade or hang around ‘til 11 a.m. when the festival really begins.
In addition to live music and entertainment, there is a pie-eating contest, photo booth, and tons of locally sponsored games. Join an old-fashioned sack race, three-legged race, or watermelon contest, then say hello to Smokey Bear and friends and get in on some carnival games.
If you’d still like to top the night off with a fireworks spectacular, head anywhere with a view of Pilot Butte, where fireworks are launched each year at 10 p.m. Al Moody Park is a local-favorite spot since it’s at the base of the butte, but you’ll need to arrive early to get a good spot.
5. Las Vegas, Nevada
Vegas is a budget-friendly Fourth destination with a bangin’ fireworks display, but it is definitely for a more adult crowd. Since the temperature skirts 100 degrees (and often surpasses it), the day’s festivities are often pool- and dayclub-oriented, with an emphasis on patriotic cocktails, but there is much more to do than drink and swim.
Exploring, shopping, and gambling are all on the table if you remain on the Strip pre-nightfall, but we recommend heading somewhere open (dayclub, rooftop, or upper-most level of a parking structure) for fireworks viewing. Dread the Strip’s Fourth of July restrictions? Hit up Downtown Las Vegas for bar-hopping, a free Cherry Poppin’ Daddies concert, and the Fremont Street light show.
If you do happen to be visiting with smaller children, you could attend the 68th Annual Damboree at Hoover Dam. There a yummy pancake breakfast, thrilling flyover, plenty of games and contests, and a fireworks show.
Celebrated in one of these cities before? Have another recommendation? Let the Benoic Team know in the comments and be sure to have a fun, safe Fourth!