A patriotic laser show and major fireworks displays round out the city’s Independence Day offerings.

By Allison Entrekin
April 26, 2016
Paul Kim

In Atlanta, tradition holds that in order to earn your Fourth of July hot dogs and beer, you must first run a 10K—the world’s largest, in fact. The AJC Peachtree Road Race, now in its 47th year, welcomes 60,000 runners to walk, run, or (occasionally) hobble down famed Peachtree Road while thousands of fans cheer and wave American flags.

An annual tradition

With so many participants, this isn’t a race where you’re likely to set a personal record. Instead, it’s a time to high-five the runners dressed up like Founding Fathers; pause in front of the Cathedral of St. Philip and let Dean Sam Candler fling holy water on your overheated face; and gulp a mimosa handed to you by a spectator after you make it to the top of dreaded “Cardiac Hill” (a long uphill stretch that conveniently ends in front of Piedmont Hospital).

Once you cross the finish line near Piedmont Park, hang onto your commemorative shirt—it’s an instant collector’s item. Some longtime Peachtree Road Race runners have even had theirs sewn into quilts.

If you’re not already registered for the race, the deadline has passed, but don’t despair. Many race numbers are available online through third parties.

Only run when you’re being chased?

Atlanta has more happening on July 4 than its massive 10K. Stone Mountain Park’s “Fantastic Fourth Celebration” features a patriotic installment of the world’s longest-running laser show, complete with “fire cannons” that shoot flames 100 feet into the air.

At Lenox Square’s Legendary Fourth of July celebration, more than 10,000 fireworks explode over Buckhead as part of a 57-year tradition. And over at Centennial Olympic Park, take a ride on Atlanta’s 20-story Ferris wheel while fireworks light up the downtown sky.

Allison Entrekin is an editor with Southbound Magazine and the Georgia Travel Guide. She covers the Southeastern United States beat for Travel + Leisure. Follow her @aweissentrekin.