Each year on 4th July, the USA celebrates a much-loved national holiday. Independence Day is probably the country’s most well-known all-American holiday, taking place in the height of summer with countrywide celebrations. There’s no better time to visit the states, so check out our guide to celebrating the Fourth of July.
For those of you who don’t know, Independence Day commemorates the Declaration of Independence, which was voted on, on 2nd July, before being approved by Congress and adopted on 4th July, 1776. This marked the official independence of the Thirteen Colonies from the British Empire. Having been made an unpaid federal holiday in 1870, in 1941, Independence Day was made a paid federal holiday by Congress, so that everyone had the chance to enjoy it in full.
Artillery salutes were once a popular and traditional part of the Independence Day celebrations, but as the use of cannons diminished, this became less common. One tradition that has been around since the very beginning, however, is the use of fireworks. Today, almost 15,000 fireworks displays happen across the states, with the largest taking place at the Macy’s Spectacular, in New York City. Here are some other incredible celebrations happening across the US.
Boston, Massachusetts, is lit up every 4th July with a fantastic fireworks display, which takes place on the iconic Charles River. Happening as part of the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular, the event kicks off on July 3rd for an evening of music, before the full celebrations take place on the 4th. Hundreds of thousands of people gather on the river’s banks to get a good look at the display, so it’s a great atmosphere and well worth turning up early to, if you can.
The best views, of course, can be found on the river itself. You can even book yourself on a boat tour and receive dinner and drinks while watching the display. If you’re in town for a few days beforehand, don’t miss Boston Harbourfest. This four-day event starts on 1st July and features historic re-enactments of notable debates, discussions about the meaning of Liberty, entertainers and walking tours.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Las Vegas pulls out all the stops for Independence Day. DJ-hosted pool parties and spectacular fireworks are abundant across the city, with the pyrotechnics as the focus. The locations of fireworks in Las Vegas change slightly from year to year, but parties happen at several places around the city, from as early as 1st July and lasting throughout the weekend. Two regular hosts include Caesars Palace and the Stratosphere Hotel.
One of the best viewpoints over the city can be found at Ghostbar, at the Palms, which is one of the city’s sleekest and most stylish hotspots. Alternatively, get a closer look at the Stratosphere and check out their Elation Pool party, which starts mid-afternoon on 4th July, with live music and front-row seats of the fireworks.
The stunning city of San Francisco proves that you don’t have to be on the east coast to feel the patriotism behind Independence Day. A live concert and fireworks display takes place at Pier 39, along Fisherman’s Wharf, so head there if you want to be in the centre of the action.
Many people take a ferry ride around the pier to enjoy even better views of the display, while others spend the day making the most of San Francisco’s incredible wine scene, with cycling winery tours of the city. In the same weekend, other great events are happening throughout San Francisco, such as the Fillmore Jazz Festival and free live music at Stern Grove.
Miami brings all the fun of parades, fireworks and barbeques that you’d expect from any Independence Day celebrations, with the added bonus of being surrounded by beautiful beaches. Catch the main fireworks display at North Shore Park, and don’t forget to bring your beach towel!
The Fire on the Fourth event will feature food trucks, barbeques and live music, which all add to the bustling atmosphere. The fun and games start as early as 9am on 4th July, so it’s a great event for families. You can also find kid-friendly activities at Bayfront Park, which features a kids’ zone, live music, lawn games and a beer garden.
Did you know?
- The Liberty Bell, in Philadelphia, didn’t ring on 4th July but actually on 8th July, to mark the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence.
- The second (John Adam), third (Thomas Jefferson) and fifth (James Monroe) Presidents of the United States all died on 4th Adams and Jefferson in 1826, and Monroe in 1831.
Find out more about celebrating Independence Day in other great cities, such as NYC, here.
Spending summer in the USA is a trip you’ll never forget. Rent A Car with Alamo and take to the road!