History relates that a cook during the Sung Dynasty (circa 960-1279) accidentally discovered that a mixture of sulfur, saltpeter, and charcoal would explode if ignited in a small space. Add a few colorful metallic salts and we’re talking fireworks. For those of you with short fuses for long airport lines and other holiday hassles, wandermelon has compiled a list of easily accessible activities around the US, so you’re sure to start your 4th off with a bang. Check out these firecracking fiestas.
You can’t go wrong watching the fireworks at the country’s capital at the National Mall with Washington Monument as a backdrop. The uber-patriotic day kicks off at 11:45am with a parade along Constitution Avenue featuring marching bands, military units, floats and more. Special July 4th events spark up the national museums like the Smithsonian Folklife Festival which features dance, story and crafts or the National Archives, which presents a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence performed by actors. Free concerts send symphonic sounds into the night air and it all culminates with a spectacular pyrotechnic display at American’s biggest birthday bash.
Boston puts a party on with the Boston Pops Orchestra performing at the Esplanade, overlooking the Charles River. It all starts at 8:30pm with a performance of the National Anthem and a flyover by the 104th Fighter Wing, one of the oldest flying units within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and fourth oldest unit in the Air National Guard. Fancy fireworks are choreographed to the music and more than 20,000 pounds of explosives will light up the sky.
BIG SKY, MONTANA
Big Sky makes for a divine destination with a wealth of outdoor mountain activities to entertain the family this holiday. On the 3rd, kids are invited to Historic Crail Ranch for a day of flyfishing or families can enjoy river rafting on the Gallatin or hiking the Spanish Peaks. On the 4th, the Big Sky Community Park hosts a day of play with three-legged races, obstacle courses, three-on-three hoops, a rad demo at the skate park, a Frisbee golf competition and regular golf tournament at the Big Sky Golf course. Barbecue eats and funky New Orleans-meets-Motown music with Mingo Fishtrap are followed by a firework finale.
PARK CITY, UTAH
In addition to its champagne powder over Christmas, Fourth of July is Park City at its finest. The Canyon’s Resort starts the party with a free concert on July 3rd at 7:30pm with the Disco Drippers at the Resort Village, followed by a dazzling display of fireworks to get everyone in the mood for the big day. Hungry bellies can head to the pancake breakfast at the local fire station on Park Avenue at 7am Saturday morning. At 11:00am, a hilarious homespun town parade spills down Main Street and features 70 floats with locals dressed to the nines, doggies, bands, math club attendees, local athletic luminaries, hula hoopers, stilt walkers, horse-drawn carriages and more, all celebrating the towns 125th anniversary. After the parade, the party moves to Miner’s Park with a wealth of fun activities for the kids from face painting to ponies, along with free music and suds for the grownups. Fireworks kaboom at 9:30 with the Park City Golf Course as a great spot to spread out your blankets and watch. The nearby Oakley Rodeo is the real deal and runs from July 1-4 every evening at 8pm with a full line-up of professional steer wrestling, team roping, bronco riding, barrel racing and bull riding. Not to mention, fireworks explode each evening at 10:30 pm after the rowdy rodeo.
SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA
Los Angeles can be tricky over the Fourth with its massive crowds and beach traffic. In case you are not invited to the Spielberg’s for their annual fireworks-off-the-barge bash on Broad Beach, you might want to check into Le Merigot Hotel for a beachfront barbecue. From the hotel you can walk to the parade on Main Street that day, then eat gourmet fixings at the hotel like Angus beef burgers, Kobe beef hot dogs, chili, homemade cornbread, watermelon, and lemon bars at the hotel, and then enjoy a duet of fireworks as you witness the Marina Del Ray and Malibu shows from your balcony. Best of all, it’s an easy crawl into that lovely famous “Cloud Nine Bed” with Frette linens, feather pillows and silky down post firework festivities.
Beale Street certainly knows how to throw a party, especially since it’s the stomping ground for great blues and barbecue. Their Red, White and Blues celebration happens as Tom Lee Park at 2pm with music, food and games for the kids. The famous Peabody Hotel with those darling little ducks that trot through the lobby each day at 11am, also hosts a bird’s eye view of the fireworks on its roof deck from 6pm to 10:30pm with a live band. Watch the thunderous display of color over the Mississippi River, rolling to the rhythms.
MACKINAC ISLAND, MICHIGAN
The historic Grand Hotel, built in 1887, is a festive traditional setting for July 4th. A ferry ride delivers you to this portal to the past where horse and carriage or bicycles are the only transportation. The island’s annual stoneskipping contest occurs at the Windemere Point on the beach each July 4th at 10am with amateurs and professionals alike flinging rocks across the lake. At the Grand on both Friday and Saturday, a children’s carnival fills the hotel’s garden and daily ice cream socials and cookouts call for family merriment. An all-America picnic with red checkered tablecloths at nearby Fort Mackinac means mounds of food, military demos, gun salutes and music. Visiting this Revolutionary War battle site makes Independence Day less of an abstraction and filled with meaning. Back at the bluffs, kick back on the hotel’s famous 660’ foot porch replete with rocking chairs overlooking the Mackinaw Straits, a fine spot to watch the fireworks over the lake and Round Island Lighthouse.
If you find yourself in the backyard with a sparkler and a warm Budweiser, perhaps one of the above will inspire you to plan for next year! Or not. Happy 4th.