Top Ten 4th of July Celebrations

Celebrate America's Independence Day in style this year. Here, we've picked our ten favorite spots.
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Edward A. Hatch Memorial Shell adjacent the Charles River Esplanade
Boston celebrates the Fourth at the Edward A. Hatch Memorial Shell adjacent the Charles River Esplanade  (Mary Giordono/B4 Productions)
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Fireworks, barbecues, parades, and live music—no other holiday spells summer fun quite like the 4th of July. Although you could just as easily celebrate America's birthday by watching the festivities on TV or setting out some lawn chairs and a grill in your backyard, some Independence Day celebrations are worth the trip, especially if they're right up the road from you. Here are our picks for the country's top ten places to ring in the 4th.

10. Mount Rushmore, South Dakota
With the faces of our country's most venerated presidents etched indelibly in the stone of the Black Hills, this national monument epitomizes American history and pride. Attend interpretive talks throughout the day on July 3. At night, take in the sounds of the U.S. Air Force band Brass in Blue while you watch the sun slowly slip behind the faces of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt. (Fireworks have been canceled this year due to wildfire risk.)

9. Greater Williamsburg, Virginia
Celebrate July 4th with living history in the Greater Williamsburg area, the center of political events leading up to the American Revolution. Catch four nights of fireworks from July 1-4 at IllumiNights at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg. Or go back in time and celebrate the colonial way with the fife and drum militia parades in Colonial Williamsburg. In nearby Yorktown, where American independence was won, you can stroll through Historic Yorktown and enjoy tactical drills, military exercises, and role-playing demonstrations.

8. Miami, Florida
A holiday smack dab in the middle of summer just begs for a beach party. The Miami Beach Fourth of July Celebration (at 8th Street and Ocean Drive) kicks off with live music and fireworks. Downtown, America's Birthday Bash gets rolling at 3 p.m., and you can enjoy live multicultural music and taste international food from the many booths. A little farther south in Key Biscayne, take in the floats, music, and fireworks during the Fourth of July Parade.

7. San Diego, California
Okay, so make that two beach parties. During the day, Pacific and Mission beaches will be packed with holiday sunbathers. At the Del Mar Fairgrounds, have some good ol' American fun on the rides at the San Diego County Fair and listen to live music. And on the night of July 4, take in the Big Bay Boom, the biggest fireworks display in the region, shooting out from barges floating in the bay.

6. New Orleans, Louisiana
Every festival N'awlins hosts is a roarin' good time, and the 4th of July is no exception. The city's Go 4th on the River festival offers concerts at the French Market and a free Mardi Gras-style party with live music, food, and door prizes. The main attraction is the Dueling Barges Fireworks Extravaganza, where two barges battle it out for the best pyrotechnics show over the Mississippi River.

Published: 3 Jun 2011 | Last Updated: 28 Jun 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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