If you’ll be visiting the United States on or around July 4, get ready for a serious party: that’s when Americans celebrate our Independence Day, more commonly known as the Fourth of July. “The Fourth,” as you’ll also hear it called, commemorates America’s public Declaration of Independence from Great Britain back in 1776, an event which ultimately led to the Revolutionary War and these former British colonies becoming an independent nation.
These days, many Americans spend the holiday firing up the barbecue, enjoying a day off work with family and friends, and of course, watching fireworks. If you’ll be spending the Fourth in the U.S. for the first time this year and want to celebrate the holiday like a local, here are a couple of our recommendations for the best place to do it.
The history of the United States, and of the Revolutionary War, are intimately linked with Boston. So if you’re looking for a true historical perspective on the holiday, this city is hard to beat. You can spend your day scoping out the stops along the Freedom Trail and stepping inside the spaces where the country’s founding fathers imagined the future of the United States. In the evening, head early to the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade along the Charles River to get a good spot for the Boston Pops orchestra’s annual concert. The show features a special celebrity performer each year (in 2019, it’s Queen Latifah), and finishes up with a spectacular fireworks show set to live music.
New York City, NY
To state the obvious, NYC knows how to put on an unforgettable show – and that certainly holds true for its annual fireworks display over the East River. You’ll get the best views of these fireworks downtown and on the East side. For something a little different (and very New York), get up early and trek down to Brooklyn’s Coney Island for the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest. Only in America would a competitive eating event draw tens of thousands of spectators each year (with millions more watching on TV at home). But the excitement of the event is real, and you’ll soon find yourself choosing a favorite competitor to win this year’s championship belt. After the competition’s over, you can spend the rest of your day on Coney Island hanging out on the beach, and end the evening watching Coney’s fireworks show.
Get a true slice of Americana by celebrating the 4th of July on Nantucket, a small island off the coast of Massachusetts known for its beaches and small-town charm. The community celebrates Independence Day each year with a parade down Main Street, followed by fireworks at Jetties Beach (about a 20-minute cycle down the Surfside Bike Path from HI Nantucket hostel).
The Marin Headlands, CA
The Marin Headlands, a tranquil national park just across the bridge from San Francisco, is a good choice if you’d like to celebrate the 4th with a little peace and quiet. Spend your day hiking the Headlands’ endless trails or relax with a picnic on Rodeo Beach. Once night falls, make your way up to the park’s Conzelman Road, which is known for its panoramic views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco’s city skyline. If it’s a clear night, you’ll be rewarded with fantastic views of San Francisco’s annual fireworks display.
San Francisco, CA
If you’d rather be a little closer to SF’s fireworks action on the Fourth, book a stay at any of HI USA’s three San Francisco properties. Guests from all three hostels meet up every year at HI San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf for a huge BBQ complete with burgers, hot dogs, games, music, and more. HI SF Fisherman’s Wharf hostel looks right over the San Francisco Bay, so it’s a great spot to catch the fireworks at the end of the day, too.
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