It’s not too late to plan a beach trip for the July 4th weekend, when Independence Day is celebrated in thousands of coastal towns throughout the United States. You’ll find the biggest festivals and warmest welcomes—sometimes hot—during this prime summer holiday when Americans celebrate the birth of their country (or at the very least, celebrate a day off from work!). A few suggestions for events follow, and I would be excited to join any of them for fireworks and festivities.
- Visit the coast of New Hampshire for a unique, historical day of festivities. An American Celebration at Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth is a fabulous old-fashioned way to celebrate July 4th, offering an opportunity to experience four centuries of New England life. One of the highlights of a New Hampshire summer, this event includes a children’s bike and wagon parade, games and crafts, historic garden tours, live music, living history, hands-on activities, and lots of food.
- Off the coast of Massachusetts, Nantucket's July 4th Celebration includes face painting, watermelon and pie-eating contests, a dunk tank, children's parades, three-legged races, tug-o-war, music, and a huge water fight. Fireworks set off from Jetties Beach, a family-friendly spot on the North Shore.
- Independence Day in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, attracts more than 80,000 people to the boardwalk and shoreline for a marvelous fireworks display and a concert to follow.
- Bring the entire family for an old-fashioned Fourth of July in Ocean City, Maryland. Enjoy games and activities, food, concert, and fireworks at the bay and at the beach.
- The Virginia Beach Stars & Stripes Explosion offers music all day on July 4th in three different parks and will feature Felicia Barton of "American Idol" singing "God Bless America" at the oceanfront.
- On the Outer Banks of North Carolina, fireworks shows will explode all along the coast at locales such as Kill Devil Hills, Nagshead, Cape Hatteras, and overlooking Currituck Sound. At Roanoke Island Festival Park, musical theater students from Western Carolina University will perform “What a Country: A Celebration of America.”
- Fireworks on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, will be at Shelter Cove Harbour or at Harbortown. Visitors always have an array of things to do in the beautiful lowcountry with world-class shopping, golf, tennis, entertainment, and history.
- The Key Biscayne Fourth of July parade through downtown Miami, Florida, is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Music and fireworks follow on Miami Beach. Cedar Key, Florida, will be exploding on July 4th when the sixth annual CLAMERICA Celebration brings thousands of clam lovers to this island community to enjoy sweet and savory farm-raised clams.
- Fireworks over the bay light up South Padre Island, Texas. Galveston, Texas, invites all to decorate golf carts, bicycles, skates, horses, wagons, floats, or any means of transportation to parade through the historic downtown. Hot dogs and lemonade follow during entertainment at the museum.
- In California, the Independence Day Party in Carmel-by-the-Sea includes a concert, food, and games in the park in one of our country’s first-class small towns. In Mendocino, the highlight on July 4th is the world’s largest salmon barbecue. American Canyon, in Napa County, is hosting their festival on July 3 and 4. A parade is followed by arts and crafts, a flag ceremony, live entertainment, a chili cook-off, and fireworks.
- In Portland, Oregon, the Waterfront Blues Festival brings more than 100 performances to four stages on the grassy banks of the Willamette River. This is the country’s second largest blues festival, running July 2-5 with spectacular dueling fireworks launched from two barges over the river for the July 4th celebration.
- On Long Beach Peninsula, Washington, a parade is followed by fireworks over the boardwalk plus pre- and post-shows along the 28-mile strip of seemingly endless sand.
This is only a small sample of some of my favorite coastal towns, but you'll find July 4th celebrations all over the map. I’ll be in a small beach community for a golf-cart parade, then lazing in the sun until dusk brings fireworks displays above two neighboring towns.
Happy Fourth! And let me know about your favorites so I can make a note for next year!
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PHOTO: (Bottom) Fireworks over Rehoboth Beach (courtesy, Rehoboth Main Street)
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