While we all love to travel, there’s no denying the perks to living in the land of red, white, and blue. From Texas barbecue to New Orleans jazz music, America’s melting pot continues to stir up some of the tastiest and liveliest traditions around. So when it comes to our nation’s biggest bash—the Fourth of July—celebrate by seeing all America has to offer while getting your dose of hot dogs, fireworks, and flag t-shirts.
The U.S. keeps its title as the Land of the Free thanks to these no-cost attractions, from Washington, D.C.’s Smithsonian Museums to the 2,000-pound Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. Of course, if you’re more interested in making history than looking at it, any of these wacky state fair contests could prove you to have the stinkiest sneakers or most decorative hay bale in the country.
America’s two coasts offer spectacular views and the best little beach towns on either side of the Mason-Dixon. Use this long weekend to admire Cape Cod’s vast tidal flats or tan on the beaches of Boca Grande, Florida. To embrace the great outdoors on a more social (read: buzzed) level, imbibe al fresco at one of America’s best outdoor bars, from the Ritz-Carlton rooftop in Los Angeles to a hillside patio in Milwaukee.
While firing up the grill may be one of the first signs of Independence Day festivities, America’s best new barbecue focuses less on smoky versus sweet, and more on IPA versus mint julep to complement your spare ribs.
Maria Pedone is a digital editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.