Ah, 4th of July.
Is there anything more quintessentially American?
From backyard barbeques to spectacular pyrotechnic shows, there’s nothing like celebrating America’s birthday in a big way.
Every year, millions of Americans hit the road in search of the best 4th of July celebrations around the country.
While nearly every major city has a fantastic fireworks show, some cities take it one step further by hosting week-long celebrations of patriotism. Plus, some cities naturally have a storied patriotic history that lends itself to an ultra red, white, and blue experience.
Ready to start planning your holiday trip?
Here’s a roundup of the most patriotic 4th of July celebrations and destinationsin the country:
San Antonio, Texas
The historic city of San Antonio, Texas offers a unique spin on America’s biggest holiday. As they say, everything is bigger in Texas.
The city’s official Fourth of July celebration is an all-day, free event held at Woodlawn Lake Park that includes food and fun for the whole family. Before indulging in good ole Texan street fare, you can join the ever-popular Firecracker Fit-Family Walk/Run around the lake. Finish up the day with carnival rides, live music, and the city-sponsored fireworks show.
Thrill seekers can enjoy fireworks and theme parks throughout the week at nearby Six Flags and SeaWorld. Six Flags hosts the Coca-Cola® July 4th Fest, a 4-day event with a pyrotechnic show set to music every night. Want to beat the crowds? Bring a can of Coke or purchase one at the gate and you can get in an hour early. SeaWorld also hosts a brilliant fireworks display included with park admission. Ticket holders also have the option to purchase a chef-prepared, picnic-style meal to round out their day.
July 4-5, you can attend a local favorite, the Freedom Fest at Historic Market Square. Festivities include music from local bands, food trucks, and a showcase of a variety of artists selling their work.
If you’ll be in town for the week, be sure to visit the downtown San Antonio River Walk. The walkway bordering the river will be decorated with flags and red, white, and blue lights from July 4-6.
Fourth of July just isn't complete without a parade. The Alamo city’s parade begins in the historic Monte Vista neighborhood, sponsored by the The Monte Vista Historical Association and Landa Library. Stick around to find out who wins the best costume and float awards at Landa Library Gardens.
Why is San Antonio so patriotic?
San Antonio, where the Battle of the Alamo took place, is one of the most fought-over cities in our nation. It also has one of the largest concentrations of military bases in the United States, and has even been trademarked with the nickname Military City, USA.
Fourth of July is a big deal in Boston. Since Massachusetts is one of the original colonies, it’s a favorite historic patriotic site. Boston boasts one of the largest 4th of July celebrations in the country with hundreds of events throughout the week.
July 1st kicks off Boston Harborfest for seven days. The opening ceremony begins at Boston’s Faneuil Hall with reenactments, speeches, and a traditional cake cutting.
If you love being on the water, on July 2, catch the Parade of Lights, a decorated boat parade in the Inner Harbor.
The official Independence Day Commemoration starts on July 4 with a flag raising and parade to Granary Burial Ground to honor fallen patriots. History buffs won’t want to miss the reading of the Declaration of Independence from the balcony of the Old State House, a reenactment of the famous 1776 event.
In the evening, catch the free Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular, held at the DCR Hatch Shell on the Esplanade. The annual event includes a world-class concert by the Boston Pops orchestra, along with big name performers. End your night watching the massive fireworks show over the Charles River that captures the attention of a half a million spectators each year.
If you have a few days to explore the city, don’t forget to walk the historic Freedom Trail. The 90-minute tour is a mile-long exploration of the city. See Bean Town in a new light with an 18th century costumed guide, who will show you historic sites like Boston Common, Massachusetts State House, Park Street Church, and Granary Burying Ground.
Why is Boston so patriotic?
The first battles of the Revolutionary War began in Boston. While the city celebrates its heritage all year with the ever-present Freedom Trail, July 4 is extra-special to Bostonians and those who visit the city to explore its historic sites.
Like Boston, Philadelphia takes its 4th of July celebrations serious. Rightfully so when you consider this city is America’s birthplace. From week-long block parties to smaller family-friendly activities spread over several blocks, there’s no more patriotic playground for the 4th than Philly.
Festivities kick-off with the Celebration of Freedom Ceremony at Independence Hall with a patriotic presentation and reading of the Declaration of Independence, followed by a parade through town that tops 6,000+ participants annually.
If you’re in the city, you can’t possibly miss Philadelphia’s Historic District Block Party. This free, seven-day event is set up between 5th and 6th streets, between Market and Chestnut Streets.
As you wander through, mingle with street artisans and balloon artists, and participate in lawn games scattered around each block. Food and beer vendors will keep party goers well-fed and happy. Catch historical presentations and live music from multiple stages to keep you in the patriotic mood even as the summer heat rises.
Between festivities, take time to honor fallen soldiers at the Concord School House & Upper Burying Ground in Germantown with a bell ringing ceremony.
You can even go back in time at Valley Forge National Historical Park, a Revolutionary War site. On July 4, watch black powder demonstrations, play historical games, and enjoy an All-American cookout. Costumed storytellers will share the site’s history, and visitors can take a trolly tour of the site where General George Washington and his troops suffered the winter of 1777-78.
Want to party on the parkway? America's birthplace finishes with a bang, of course. Visitors can enjoy a free concert and stunning fireworks show on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway featuring Jennifer Hudson and Meghan Trainor. After the concert, a huge fireworks display will be visible above the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Why is Philadelphia so patriotic?
The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were written and signed in Philadelphia. Philly was also home to the first Independence Day celebration and fireworks display in 1777.
The Windy City takes full advantage of its beautiful waterfront for America’s birthday. The Navy Pier on Lake Michigan is the focal point for most of Chicago’s 4th of July events, but other smaller events are set-up throughout the city, too.
The Grant Park Music Festival at Jay Pritzker Pavilionis a perfect gathering for the whole family. This free, classical music event offers a traditional special Independence Day Salute concert the evening of July 4th.
Need your sports fix? There’s not much that’s more American than baseball. Grab your peanuts and Cracker Jacks and cheer on the Chicago White Sox as they play the Detroit Tigers on Independence Day. The first 10,000 fans will get a free t-shirt.
Prefer to be out on the water? Enjoy a 4th of July cruise right from the Navy Pier or the Chicago Riverwalk to take in a fireworks-lit evening boat ride.
If you’d prefer to avoid pier crowds, the Chicago History Museum plaza will welcome guests throughout the day. Enjoy presentations, a reading of the Declaration of Independence, and a children’s costume parade led by the World’s Tallest Uncle Sam. Illinois residents can visit the museum for free from noon until 4:30 p.m.
For an even more low-key event on July 4, check out a parade and other family-friendly activities held at Independence Park on N. Springfield Avenue.
On July 4th, catch an early dinner right on the lakefront down at the Navy Pier before you get your firework fix. The show will be in sync with patriotic music. Be sure to arrive early, as gates will close once the pier has reached capacity for the event. All summer, visitors can see free fireworks at the pier on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Why is Chicago so patriotic?
The Pledge of Allegiance and “America the Beautiful” are both tied to The White City of the 1893 World’s Fair held in Chicago. The first World’s Fair celebrated the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s first voyage across the Atlantic and helped define patriotism in America.
Start Packing All Your Red, White, and Blue
If you plan to travel to celebrate the 4th of July in a big way this year, you won’t want to miss these four patriotic destinations. Consider booking now as the summer months are the busiest times of year to travel.
Exploring new cities is fun anyway, but when you add in all the educational and historical events of July 4th, it makes for an even more exciting trip. Whether you plan to travel solo or go with your family, you’ll have a blast exploring the patriotism of these big cities during the 4th of July.
Before the fireworks even shoot off, we know you’ll be chanting USA, USA, USA!
And to veterans and active duty — we are even more grateful your service this time of year. Thank you for your sacrifices in keeping America safe so we can all celebrate our freedoms each 4th of July.