Nothing says Independence Day quite like a colorful and thundering fireworks display, and if you’re lucky enough to be in any of the major destinations noted below this 4th of July, you’ll have a front row seat to some of the nation’s most dazzling pyrotechnic spectacles. Whether you plan on spending the holiday in the nation’s capital, the Big Apple, or even sunny Orlando, you can soak up patriotic spirit while marveling at colorful explosions that light up the night sky. To boot, parades, historic tours, concerts and other extras ensure there’s plenty to do for people of all ages. Travelers still have time to lock in low rates on airfare and score great July 4th hotel deals. Read on for a sampling of July 4th events you don’t want to miss.
1. Washington, D.C.: Washington D.C. is unquestionably the most fitting place to soak up a fun-filled day of 4th of July festivities. The National Mall, with the U. S. Capitol and Washington Monument in the background, creates a stunning backdrop to the country’s 4th of July celebrations. This all-day event in the nation’s capital kicks off with a parade along Constitution Avenue from NW 7th to 17th Streets. During the day, you can enjoy readings of the Declaration of Independence at the National Archives, dance performances and cooking demonstrations at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, and an evening concert by the National Symphony Orchestra on the West Lawn. Immediately following the concert, a spectacular display of fireworks over the Capitol Building and Washington Monument caps off an unforgettable day in history-rich D.C.
2. Boston: Another of the nation’s premier destinations for history buffs, Boston was the site of major events in American History, from the Boston Massacre to the Boston Tea Party. The 29th annual Boston Harborfest is a multi-day Fourth of July celebration featuring hundreds of events throughout the historic city, many being free of charge. Boston Harborfest draws more than 2.5 million visitors to Boston each July, thus making it one of the nation’s largest patriotic celebrations. This year, Boston Harborfest runs June 30 through July 5. Featuring a variety of children’s activities, historic tours, concerts and Revolutionary era reenactments, it’s no wonder the American Bus Association has named Boston Harborfest one of North America’s Top 100 Events for 2010. The Fourth of July Pops Concert at the Esplanade precedes an impressive showcase of fireworks over the Charles River. Don’t miss Chowderfest on Monday, July 5, which affords visitors a unique opportunity to savor Boston’s most popular chowder concoctions.
3. New York City: Everyone knows it is home to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and widely-watched New Year’s Eve Ball Drop in Times Square. But New York City also delivers one of the biggest Fourth of July firework displays in the nation. The Macy’s July 4th fireworks display originally made its debut on the Hudson River in 1958. This year, the Macy’s fireworks show will feature more than 40,000 shells exploding at a whopping rate of more than 1,500 per minute and fireworks soaring up to 1,000 feet in the air. At approximately 9:20 pm on July 4th, the 26-minute display will be set off from six barges set between 24th and 50th Streets on the Hudson River. The fireworks will mark not only America’s birthday, but also the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s exploration of his namesake river. American Harmony is the theme of this year’s fireworks spectacular. Alternatively, join Big Onion Walking Tours at 1 p.m. for a walking tour of sites related to the Revolutionary War in Lower Manhattan, including Federal Hall.
4. Orlando: Orlando’s thrilling, world-famous theme parks – from Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort to SeaWorld Orlando – each offer a bevy of fireworks celebrations you’ll definitely want to check out. Among them is Universal 360 – A Cinesphere Spectacular, which will start on July 4 and run most nights through August 8 at Universal Orlando Resort. The show employs four-story-tall, 360-degree projection “cinespheres,” outdoor speakers, music, lasers and pyrotechnic effects to position guests in the very center of their favorite films. The Fourth of July Cinesphere show will also include a thrilling finale complete with an eye-catching fireworks display. Otherwise, you can make plans to celebrate the Fourth of July with friends and family at the 2010 City of Kissimmee July 4th Celebration, which offers live entertainment, arts and crafts, a food festival, water-ski show, and – you guessed it – a brilliant fireworks display for free.
5. Los Angeles: If you’re spending the 4th of July on the west coast, consider taking an excursion to Los Angeles to take part in Southern California’s popular fireworks events. Among them is the 4th of July AmericaFest at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, which combines great music, excellent food, and fireworks galore. On July 4, tens of thousands will also descend on the community of Pacific Palisades for the Americanism Parade on Sunset Boulevard before lapping up family-friendly entertainment, patriotic songs and breathtaking fireworks at the second annual Palisades Rocks the Fourth concert at Palisades Charter High School.
As you can see, there are plenty of things to do in celebration of our nation’s 234th birthday. Whether your idea of a memorable 4th of July involves marching along Constitution Avenue, admiring a beautiful fireworks display over the Capitol Building, braving a daring roller coaster at a Walt Disney World theme park, or touring Boston’s historic neighborhoods, Independence Day 2010 promises to offer something for everyone.