Independence Day Around the Country

How do you celebrate the Fourth of July? We asked some of our own guides in three of our East Coast cities to provide some tips and advice to make your Independence Day fun and unique.

Boston

Boston this year will be alive with July 4th festivities, with a nearly week-long event known as Boston Harborfest. The line-up will include arts and crafts markets, a classic car showcase, live music at Long Wharf, and much more.

Be sure to time your visit to the Old State House just right so you can catch a morning reading the Declaration of Independence from the balcony. Surrounded by downtown Boston’s historic brick buildings and paver-lined streets, you’ll feel transported right back to the heady early days of the nation. 

Whether you’re following the Harborfest’s parade or not, be sure to include a stop at the Granary Burying Ground and pay homage to revolutionaries like Crispus Attucks, Samuel Adams, and John Hancock.

Lastly, you’ll want to catch the annual launch of the USS Constitution, aka “Old Ironsides”, the oldest commissioned warship in the world and which first set sail in 1797! Stay for the 21-gun salute and board the ship for a limited-time free admission. 

After a day of exploring Boston’s most significant historic sites, you’ll want to find a prime viewing spot along the Charles River Esplanade to view the dazzling fireworks display over the Boston Harbor.

Philadelphia

Philly is a great place to be spending your Fourth of July holiday, not just because it’s filled with early American history but also due to its prime fireworks viewing locations. Enjoy a spectacular show in the area surrounding the Philadelphia Museum of Art or make your way up to Lemon Hill for excellent sweeping views.

On the opposite side of the city, you can watch fireworks go off from a barge in the Delaware River. Show up a bit early to grab a nice spot at Spruce Street Harbor Park or on the grassy embankment across the street. 

If you’re here for the history, spend a day in Old City, where you can see rare documents including one of the oldest surviving copies of the Declaration at Independence Hall. Directly across the way sits the Liberty Bell in its own building, while just a short walk down Chestnut street will take you to the Museum of American Revolution, where you can learn about the challenges and uncertainty the fledgling nation experienced leading up to its break with Great Britain. Pop into the Betsy Ross House to learn more about everyday colonial life and afterwards pay respects at Ben Franklin’s Grave, just down the street from Betsy.

Among other activities to round out your revolutionary stay are a drive out to Valley Forge National Historical Park. These grounds once hosted George Washington and his troops during a brutal winter as they prepared for battle. At any point during your time in Philadelphia, be sure to grab a brew from Yards Brewing Company, where you can enjoy a refreshing Washington’s Porter or Jefferson’s Golden Ale!

Washington, D.C.

The fireworks display over the Washington Monument is a sight to behold. On July 4th, pack a picnic and come early to secure a spot on the lawn near the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, where you can enjoy unrivaled views of the fireworks reflecting in the Tidal Basin. The Lincoln Memorial provides even closer views of the fireworks. 

Again, you’ll want to arrive early, not just for the fireworks, but for “A Capitol Fourth”, a concert featuring music and renowned artists, and a truly unique DC Independence Day event.

Among the attractions you can pair with the fanfare of fireworks are the monuments and memorials that line the National Mall, from the iconic Washington Monument to the Signers’ Memorial located in the Mall’s Constitution Gardens. Stop by the National Portrait Gallery to get up close and personal with the founding members of the nation, and visit the Emancipation Memorial in Lincoln Park for a greater appreciation and understanding of how our nation was built and the problematic legacies we still grapple with today.

Wherever you celebrate, we hope you’ll enjoy the spectacle and make this Fourth of July a special and meaningful experience.