The Best Beaches for Celebrating July Fourth in 2023

Beaches across the U.S. hold fireworks and other happenings for Independence Day.

Young girl running on beach with American flag-printed scarf

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July Fourth is a day to celebrate the U.S.'s independence with barbecues, fireworks, and ice-cold brewskies — ideally with sun on your skin and sand between your toes. On this quintessentially summer holiday, people flock to the nearest seaboard to indulge in classic Americana: hot dogs or lobster rolls on a boardwalk, ice cream dripping from a cone, parades, picnics, live music, and pyrotechnic displays over the water.

If you don't mind sharing the sand with a lively crowd, hit one of these beaches this Fourth of July.

01 of 20

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Ferris wheel on Myrtle Beach lit up at night
John Coletti/Getty Images

With 60 miles of shoreline and more than 2,000 restaurants, there’s something for everyone in Myrtle Beach. On July Fourth, patriotic festivities take over this East Coast mecca, from the annual golf cart parade in Surfside Beach to the fireworks that erupt over Cherry Grove, Second Avenue, and Veterans’ Piers. Fireworks are a weekly tradition in the summer at Barefoot Landing, but its Independence Day iteration is extra special. More pyrotechnics and other private parties take place all around the city, so you're sure to find an event to suit your taste.

02 of 20

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

Fireworks over Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts
Courtesy of Martha's Vineyard Chamber of Commerce

Martha’s Vineyard, a tiny island off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is quintessential New England. If you leave without tasting a lobster roll, some clam chowder, or at least an oyster, you might even get fined. The island, accessible via ferry or by air, is about 100 square miles and is divided between down-island and up-island towns. Either way you go, you’re bound to have a fantastic stay at any of the ultra-charming inns dotting the island. For Fourth of July, head to Edgartown, which holds an annual parade and fireworks.

03 of 20

Virginia Beach, Virginia

July Fourth Fireworks over Virginia Beach
Courtesy of Virginia Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau

Virginia Beach is home to one of America’s best boardwalks. It goes on for three miles and walks visitors directly past the Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum, the historic Coast Guard station (now a museum), and a statue of Neptune. On the Fourth of July, Virginia Beach transforms into quite the patriotic spot, with a huge celebration including concerts at several outdoor venues along the beach and, of course, an epic fireworks display.

04 of 20

Hapuna Beach, Hawaii

Water crashing on rocks at Hapuna Beach, Hawaii
Philip Rosenberg/Getty Images

Hawaii might have been the last to gain U.S. statehood, but it's certainly no less patriotic on July Fourth than the rest of the country. Kailua holds one of the biggest and longest-running Independence Day celebrations on the Big Island, with a parade and fireworks over beautiful Kailua Bay. Leading up to the event, businesses will put on traditional luaus and the like to get people into the holiday spirit. When you're not participating in the local happenings, you can kayak to the offshore islands or rent a bike and ride around town.

05 of 20

Huntington Beach, California

Men in kilts performing in Huntington Beach July Fourth Parade
Tara Ziemba/Getty Images

Known as “Surf City,” Huntington Beach in Southern California has made a name for itself as the birthplace of surfing in the U.S. It's also known for its pier, which juts out 1,850 feet over the water and plays host to a festival every Fourth of July weekend. In addition to the festival, you'll find a fun run, parade, deals and events at the local restaurants, and more. In the evening, a fireworks display lights up the sky over the Pacific Ocean.

06 of 20

Narragansett Beach, Rhode Island

Fireworks over Narragansett Beach, Rhode Island
Lori Leduc

Rhode Island may be small, but it still has 400 miles of coastline, one of the most popular stretches of which belongs to Narragansett. From the stone sea wall curving down Narragansett Town Beach to the historic Coast Guard House still keeping watch over the bay, the beach is the perfect destination for those looking to enjoy a sun-filled afternoon in the smallest state in the union. Come Fourth of July, Narragansett will hold an afternoon of concerts right on the beach, all leading up to evening fireworks over Narragansett Bay.

07 of 20

Ocean City Beach, Maryland

Ocean City Beach Boardwalk at sunset
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Known for its colorful boardwalk featuring the nostalgic Trimper Rides amusement park — and that 1912 carousel, still in operation — Ocean City Beach is a top-tier destination for families. While the beach offers dozens of free events all summer long, its Fourth of July celebration is one of the most fun. Every year, the city puts on live concerts and fireworks displays at two locations: right on the beach at North Division Street and at Northside Park.

08 of 20

Key West, Florida

People measuring a pie at the Key Lime Festival
Rob O'Neal/Florida Keys News Bureau/HO

Though just four miles long and two miles wide, Key West has plenty to offer, from bike riding to snorkeling to fine dining to Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville. And while being landlocked in Margaritaville with a key lime margarita sounds delightful, the best way to experience Key West for the Fourth may be by boat. Fury, an area charter company, offers a fireworks cruise via catamaran. While you're in town, don't miss the sugar-filled Key Lime Festival taking place July Fourth weekend.

09 of 20

Monterey Bay, California

Crowd gathered on lawn for July Fourth festival in Monterey
Courtesy of City of Monterey

Monterey Bay on the coast of central California holds an Independence Day parade that attracts 15,000 spectators each year. Grab a seat early to get the best view of patriotic floats and costume-clad performers. Afterward, a free festival — including barbecue and live music — is held on the Colton Hall Lawn. Don't leave Monterey Bay before visiting its world-famous aquarium, showcasing some 80,000 plants and animals across 200-plus exhibits.

10 of 20

West Beach, Alabama

Fireworks over West Beach, Alabama
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West Beach is one of Alabama's finest, with its white sandy shores and quiet ambiance. The beach goes on for about six miles, and most of it you could explore without seeing a single other beachgoer. It's an ideal destination for those truly looking to escape the hustle. After spending a relaxing Independence Day on the sand, hop in the car and drive a few minutes to the Gulf State Park Pier for a free fireworks display.

11 of 20

South Padre Island, Texas

Fireworks over South Padre Island, Texas
Russell Kaye/Sandra-Lee Phipps/Getty Images

South Padre Island is home to 34 miles of undeveloped beaches and dunes at Texas’ southernmost tip. Here, thrill seekers enjoy the excellent windsurfing, kitesurfing, and sand-surfing available up and down the coastline. If wind sports aren’t your thing, you can opt for tamer kayaking or paddleboarding. Every year, the island celebrates July Fourth with a beach parade and fireworks over the bay.

12 of 20

Old Orchard Beach, Maine

Sun setting over Old Orchard Beach in Maine
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Old Orchard Beach, about 30 minutes south of Portland, has seven miles of beach as well as a historic pier and boardwalk harkening back to days gone by. The tiny New England town was established in 1863, and its annual Independence Day celebration is more than 70 years old. Floats and local performers parade through the village of Ocean Park from the Bell Tower, conjoining at the Bandstand for a free concert. Typically, the event is followed by a fireworks display near the pier later in the night.

13 of 20

Montauk, New York

Path leading to Montauk lighthouse at sunset
Courtesy of DIscover Long Island

Montauk is the ultimate way to visit the Hamptons without having to deal with the massive crowds. Don’t worry, the area still has plenty of fantastic dining, shopping, sightseeing, and activities to keep you as entertained as you would be anywhere else on Long Island. Montauk's annual fireworks display takes place at Umbrella Beach (aka Kirk Park Beach). Try to get to the beach early and enjoy the sights all day and night.

14 of 20

Miami, Florida

Miami lifeguard station painted like an American flag
Patricia Hamilton/Getty Images

The Fourth of July in Miami looks like festive cocktails and yacht parties, but that's not to say it isn't also a place for families. South Florida's lively beach rings in America's birthday with a family-friendly Fire on the Fourth celebration in North Beach, complete with live music, food trucks, kids' activities, and fireworks. The action lasts all day and mostly takes place at the Miami Beach Bandshell, a beach-adjacent outdoor venue.

15 of 20

Nantucket, Massachusetts

Family walking to the beach in Nantucket
Tim Clayton/Corbis/Getty Images

Nantucket is certainly one of the most all-American beach towns out there, which makes it a great July Fourth destination. It offers pristine beaches, adorable seaside homes, delicious seafood, and Independence Day happenings morning, noon, and night. The fun starts on Main Street — including, in the past, pie-eating contests and games — then moves to the shoreline, where fireworks illuminate the sky over Jetties Beach that evening.

16 of 20

St. Simons Island, Georgia

Woman pulling cart onto St. Simons Island beach

Marc Romanelli/Getty Images

Since 1955, St. Simons Island, Georgia, has celebrated July Fourth with a Sunshine Festival, a family event that usually involves a craft show and fun run. It all takes place at Pier Village, St. Simons' colorful downtown strip, which is two miles from where everyone will presumably spend the morning sunning on East Beach. Attendees are encouraged to bring a picnic blanket or beach chairs to set up at Neptune Park for the fireworks show later in the night.

17 of 20

Long Branch, New Jersey

Hotels along Long Branch Beach during golden hour

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Oceanfest bills itself as "the biggest seasonal event on the Jersey Shore." Hundreds of thousands reportedly flock to Long Branch come July Fourth for live music, food vendors, street performances, craft stalls, and, of course, fireworks. The all-day street festival has something for everyone — from clowns to extreme sandcastle sculptures to gourmet bites — right along Long Branch's oceanfront promenade.

18 of 20

Rockaway Beach, Oregon

Two chairs looking out at Rockaway Beach's rock formations

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Rockaway Beach on Oregon's northern coast, an hour and 40 minutes from Portland, holds an annual Fourth of July celebration that has in the past included a dachshund race, a baked good and plant sale, hot dogs, paintball, a parade, miniature golf, fireworks, and a National Guard flyover. The fun takes place all over town, from the Lions Club to Phyllis Baker City Park to The Ocean’s Edge Wayside, where the fireworks are set off.

19 of 20

Panama City Beach, Florida

Fireworks display at Panama City Beach

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Panama City claims to put on the largest July Fourth fireworks display on the Gulf Coast, and there are multiple chances to see them. The town typically offers a few nights of fireworks around the Fourth. Spectators have options in terms of where they watch, so will it be from a snazzy resort while sipping a cocktail or barefooted with toes in the sand? There's certainly enough space for everyone, considering PCB comprises 27 miles of beautiful Florida coastline.

20 of 20

Fire Island Pines, New York

Drag queen holding a pride flag

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If you're looking for pure camp on an otherwise tradition-heavy holiday, look no further than Fire Island Pines — a drag queen's utter paradise. Just off the shore of Long Island, this little hamlet remains an LGBTQ+-centric destination year-round. However, when the Fourth rolls around, queens and their stans descend on "The Pines" and parade through town. So you know, Fire Island Invasion is a celebration of skin — don't come if you're offended by nipple tassels and jockstraps.

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