The 4th of July is on a Thursday this year, which means it’s the ideal time to plan an extra-long weekend trip. Whether you want to celebrate the fourth in a city with tons of history (hello, Washington, D.C.) or enjoy a beach weekend with some awesome outdoor parties (LA, anyone?), here’s our roundup of the best places to spend the 4th of July.
1. Washington, D.C.
If you want to go big while celebrating the fourth, where better to be than the capital itself? Stake out a good spot along Constitution Avenue to watch the annual Independence Day Parade. Or, find your way to a rooftop bar to watch the fireworks on the National Mall. If you’ve got a few days to spare, it’s easy to get the celebration started early. Spend a day exploring some of the major monuments or historical museums in the city or cool off with some kayaking, paddleboarding or a waterfront concert on the Potomac River.
2. New York
No matter the occasion, New York knows how to celebrate. Grab a seat early for the Macy’s Fireworks, the largest fireworks show in the US. Want some really stellar views? Book an evening sightseeing cruise in the New York Harbor. And if you’ve never had the chance to see some of New York’s most iconic monuments, like the Statue of Liberty, why not add them to your 4th of July must-sees?
Or you could head over to Coney Island for a chance to watch the annual hot dog eating contest. If you’re not totally grossed out after watching someone inhale 40+ hot dogs in ten minutes, you can take a walk down the boardwalk for a quick lunch of your own or chill out on the beach.
3. Los Angeles, CA.
From concerts to baseball games to massive block parties, Los Angeles has pretty much everything you could hope for in a Fourth of July celebration. Want an all-out party with food, live music and fireworks? Head to Warner Center Park, Marina del Rey, the Rose Bowl Stadium or even aboard the historic Queen Mary.
You could also head down to San Diego to watch one of the largest fireworks shows from the beaches along San Diego Bay.
4. Philadelphia, PA
Independence Day in Philly is no small celebration. Being the birthplace of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, Philly takes it’s July 4th celebrations to the next level. Grab some free birthday cake from the Independence Visitor Center first thing.
Enjoy the annual Independence Day Parade and then pick your party for the rest of the day. Party on the Parkway is by far the most popular, with food trucks, beer gardens, live music and more on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. But there’s tons more scattered throughout the city. The fireworks start at 9:30pm, following a massive concert (headlined this year by Jennifer Hudson and Meghan Trainor) on the parkway. Oh, and did we mention all the concerts and fireworks are free?
5. Boston, MA.
For a really historic holiday complete with multiple fireworks shows, visit Boston! The Boston Harborfest is a multi-day festival that is one of the biggest Independence Day celebrations in the US. There’s something for everyone! Head to Chowderfest on July 2 to taste (and vote!) for the best clam chowder in the city. Then walk the Freedom Trail to explore some of Boston’s history or go sailing on the Charles River.
Watch the epic fireworks on July 4th along the Esplanade, right after the free concert at the Hatch Shell. In town early? Catch the Parade of Lights and more fireworks over the Harbor on July 2nd.
6. Nashville, TN.
If you’re looking for some music to go with your celebrations, look no further than Music City. The live music and free outdoor concerts start on July 3 and extend right up until firework time on the 4th. Want to beat the crowds? There’s plenty of places to catch some live music in Nashville, even if it’s not the big names that are headlining for the 4th of July festivities. And there’s plenty of rooftop parties, BBQ and activities to enjoy while you’re in town, too. Not to mention that their firework show has been rated one of the best in the US.
7. Chicago, IL
Summer is hands-down the best time to visit the Windy City. So why not make the most of a long weekend and head to Chicago for the fourth? Enjoy a parade in the morning and an outdoor music festival in the evening. In between, bike around the city, explore one of Chicago’s famous museums, take a river cruise or enjoy a ride on the Centennial Wheel. Just make sure you leave yourself enough time to get back to Navy Pier early and snag a spot for the fireworks at 9:30pm.