For this year’s celebration of America’s birthday, you could go the traditional route and visit Washington, D.C., or the Freedom Trail in Boston, or the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, or head to the nearest big city for a fireworks display.
But what if you wanted to do something more historic, or visit someplace embedded in the country’s history, or see some sights that are quintessentially American? Luckily, there are lots of options.
Fort William Henry
This reconstructed fort dates back to 1755, when it was constructed as a British outpost. Its history makes up the plot of the “Last of the Mohicans.” On July 4th, you can hear a reading of the Declaration of Independence at Fort William Henry, and then that evening take in fireworks in the Village of Lake George. The fort sits in the Lake George Area at the southern gateway to the Adirondack Mountains.
Sonoma Valley’s Old Fashioned Fourth of July Parade
Representing the West Coast with classic activities is this celebration in California’s wine country. The Sonoma Valley Fourth of July on the Plaza starts with a parade with marching bands and extravagant floats, and has live music and games, plus food, beer and wine booths. The day ends with fireworks, of course.
Bristol, Rhode Island
This quaint fishing town in Rhode Island has been nicknamed “America’s Most Patriotic Town” because of its history. During the American Revolutionary War, the British Navy attacked Bristol twice, and every year the town celebrates its history. The party kicks off on Flag Day, June 14, with outdoor concerts, derby races, a firefighter’s muster, a 4th of July ball and Drum & Bugle Corps. Performances. Then on July 4, there is The Civic, Military and Fireman’s parade.
Indianapolis claims is second only to Washington, D.C. in the number of war memorials and takes honoring veterans seriously. Sights include the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, which serves as the epicenter of the city, the Indiana World War Memorial and its Shrine Room, the Congressional Medal of Honor Memorial, the World War II Memorial and Veterans Memorial Plaza. The American Legion Mall, which stretches between two city blocks, is flanked by the American Legion National headquarters. Every July 4, the downtown of Indianapolis attracts visitors to see the fireworks and take in food trucks and vendors and tailgating.
Wawa Welcome America Festival in Philadelphia
Running June 28 to July 4, this festival celebrates American history and education in Philadelphia. Its free events run in the Center City, the Historic District, several neighborhoods and Valley Forge. Every day one or more Philadelphia museums will be open to all for free. The festival concludes with 12 hours of non-stop commemorations and celebrations on the Fourth of July. The theme of this year’s Wawa Welcome America is “Welcoming the World With Love.”
Colonial Williamsburg is a living-history museum in Virginia that pulls out all the stops to celebrate July 4th. New this year is an exhibit called “Resolved, An American Experiment”, that’s influenced by “Hamilton” and “Schoolhouse Rock,” and allows visitors to be part of the story when Virginia said “yes” to independence. There are also chances to dress up in a hand-made colonial costume and interact with interpreters who play real people who made significant contributions to the American story in 18th-century Williamsburg. Also try out ax throwing, ox wagon riding, or searching for burried treasure.
Old Salem Museums and Gardens in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
This location claims to be where the country’s first public Independence Day celebration took place. Every July 4th, Old Salem celebrates with hands-on activities, historic Moravian traditions and patriotic music, plus a Naturalization Ceremony, hearth cooking, puppet shows, apothecary tours, organ music and garden tours.
Seward is nicknamed “America’s Fourth of July City” because of its small town celebrations that date back to 1868. While the town only has 6,000 residents, the event can attract more than 40,000 attendees. The all-day celebration includes a grand parade, a car show of antique cars, live entertainment at the Seward Bandshell, and a giant fireworks show at Plum Creek Park.