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Patriotic, Family-Friendly Spots for July 4th

by Carley Wade

Jun 27, 2018

© Yuwarat Sompruksa | Dreamstime.com


From big to small towns, there’s no shortage of spirit when it comes to celebrating our nation’s birthday. Whether close to home or a bit further afield, there are plenty of reasons to plan ahead to hit up these remarkable festivities for all that is red, white and blue:


With a new Museum of the American Revolution, there’s even more to see in Philadelphia’s Historic District. The city’s annual 4th of July Jam includes seven days of live music, fireworks displays and family activities. The week includes a parade and Party on the Parkway, concluded with a bang with a huge pyrotechnics display over the Philadelphia Museum of Art. If that’s not enough bang, hit up the Newtown celebration on July 5, with a parade and fireworks at the local middle school (an hour outside the city). Small-town charm is in order in New Hope, at its Liberty Canal Festival; enthusiasts re-enact George Washington’s 1778 encampment.


Each year, the Bay State’s capital brings the noise and funk to the Esplanade with a massive outdoor amphitheater where the public lines up days in advance for the best seats to the Boston Pops’ annual patriotic concert. Cannons go off, timed to the “1812 Overture,” and then the city’s entire harbor is lit up against the twinkling skyline lights. Just a short walk away is the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile-long path through downtown with 16 of the country’s most important historical landmarks. Don’t miss grabbing a gelato in the North End (Little Italy neighborhood), just a hop, skip and a jump from Paul Revere’s house on the Trail.

Boston 4th of July Celebration

Boston 4th of July Celebration © Chee-onn Leong | Dreamstime.com

New York City

Little is as synonymous with freedom as the Statue of Liberty, and she’ll be resplendent during the nation’s largest fireworks display, according to sponsor Macy’s. Three million spectators (and millions more watching on TV) are expected to crowd the shores of Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn for a 25-minute extravaganza, bursting with crackling ghost peonies in purple, colors including lemon and aqua and color-changing chrysanthemums. The entire spectacle is choreographed to a musical score available on AM radio — or tune in to the national broadcast on NBC TV.

New Orleans

The good times roll in the Big Easy with some Dueling Barges fireworks on the banks of the Mississippi. There are plenty of good spots to watch the back-and-forth blasts, with business as usual on in the French Quarter — meaning no formal business at all, of course.


Enjoy fantastic fireworks over Lake Michigan in the Windy City at Navy Pier on July 4th (also repeated two nights a week for the whole summer). It’s worth spending a day at the pier, though, since Chicago’s fifth annual Freedom Fest promises a DJ and barbecue. Add on to your all-American fun in nearly Rockford, Ill., home of the Rockford Peaches of A League of Their Own. Besides fireworks, there’s also an unforgettable Ski Broncs water show, like Circ du Soleil on high-speed water skis with synchronized dance moves and glittery costumes.


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