With massive Independence Day celebrations in the works, many people will head to the big cities to ring in the holiday weekend. New York, San Fransisco, Boston, Washington D.C are all popular locations to watch a parade, take in some fireworks or hit up a street party. But some of the most patriotic and colorful celebrations will actually take place in many of the USA’s smaller towns.
With 42 million American’s expected to travel over 50 miles to celebrate the nation’s 239th birthday, this year is set to be the busiest summer weekend for domestic travel in years.
“This Independence Day, more people will get in their cars, board airplanes, and take buses, trains and cruise ships to celebrate our nation’s freedom with friends and family,” said Marshall L. Doney, AAA President.
“Students all across the nation are also celebrating freedom from homework, making this an ideal time for a family vacation. The Fourth of July is typically the busiest summer travel holiday for this reason, and more Americans are planning a holiday getaway than any year since 2007. ”
With so many American’s planning to hit the road this holiday weekend, Yahoo Travel has put together a list of the ten top small-town celebrations that are worth the journey.
1. Bristol, Rhode Island
Kentish Guards marching in the Bristol 4th of July parade. (Photo: H.C. Williams/Flickr)
Referred to as “the most patriotic town in the country,” Bristol, Rhode Island has one of the biggest small town parties over Fourth of July weekend. Dating back to 1785, this northeastern town is believed to have the nation’s oldest July 4th celebration. The party begins on June 14th, Flag Day, and continues through the Independence Day weekend. With a 3-week long program of concerts, carnivals and various other events, the culmination of the occasion ends with a massive fireworks display on the night of July 3rd. A parade with military, firefighters, and civilians takes place on July 4th.
2. Cooperstown, N.Y.
Firing muskets at the Cooperstown 4th of July celebration. (Photo: The Farmers’ Museum/Facebook)
Just a 3.5 hour drive from both Boston and NYC is the quintessential American village of Cooperstown, New York. This year, the Farmers’ Museum will mark the occasion with traditional 18th century music, musket blasts, and a reading of the Declaration of Independence at 1pm on the village green. Other trades and crafts of the period will be demonstrated, including blacksmithing, printing, and open hearth cooking. Visitors can also take a horse drawn wagon tour or a ride on the carousel! For beer lovers, Cooperstown is home to four breweries, who will all be providing tours, tastings, and traditional food offerings.
3. Sonoma, Calif.
Festive participants in the Sonoma 4th of July Parade. (Photo: .sanden./Flickr)
The beautiful northern California town of Sonoma hosts the Annual Sonoma Valley Old Fashioned Fourth Of July Parade & Celebration which offers locals and visitors, the opportunity to celebrate the holiday in historic fashion. Beginning with a parade, party goers can spend the day enjoying an old-fashioned carnival with live music, where local charities run game booths and food stands. The town’s Boy Scout group will also be hosting a rock climbing wall and even a dunk tank!
4. Bisbee, Ariz.
The 4th of July Coaster Race is a tradition in Bisbee. (Photo: Discover Bisbee Arizona/Facebook)
This small mining town has July 4th traditions that date back to 1914 when the annual Bisbee Coaster Race began. To this day, 9-15 year olds take part in this exhilarating downhill derby with spectators packing the 1.5 mile course. The celebrations include other mining themed activities including a hard rock drilling contest and a mucking competition as well as a parade and fireworks display.
5. Southport, N.C.
Southport’s 4th of July festivities include the annual Freedom Run. (Photo: NC 4th of July Festival/Facebook)
For over 200 years, the small seaside community of Southport, North Carolina has celebrated the nation’s birthday in true patriotic fashion. Today, 50,000 people flock to the small town each year for the 8-day celebration which includes a parade, two fireworks displays, a sailing regatta, the freedom run, beach activities, a naturalization ceremony, an outdoor concert program, and much much more.
6. New Hope, Penn.
Fireworks over the Delaware River for New Hope’s 4th of July celebration. (Photo: iStock)
The Pennsylvania township of New Hope kicks off it’s Independence Day celebrations this year with a “Concert Under The Stars” on the night of July 3rd. The Symphonia Orchestra’s patriotic, classical performance begins with at 8pm, with guests invited to bring a picnic supper to enjoy beforehand. The following night there will be a spectacular fireworks display or visitors can head down the road to Washington Crossing for the Revolutionary Run.
7. Boulder, Colo.
In Boulder, weekend activities involve a pig roast, concerts, an a beer garden. (Photo: Downtown Boulder/Facebook)
This mountain town, despite being known more for it’s winter sports, is a thriving and fun summer destination who’s July 4th celebrations involve a bike rodeo, a fun run, fireworks and a large temporary beer garden. The famous Ralphie’s Independence Day Blast fireworks display is set off from the top of the Colorado University Football stadium. Visitors can enjoy guided walking tours of the town, live music performances, a pig roast at Aji, late night swimming, a farmers market and even a jazz festival.
8. Seguin, Tex.
The Seguin 4th of July Parade shows that big parades can come in small towns. (Photo: Seguin Main Street/Facebook)
This tiny Texas town is home to the “Biggest Small-town Fourth Of July Parade,” and the festivities last a few days. Visitors and locals pay homage to the men and women of the armed forces beginning with a traditional flag raising ceremony. Other activities include a large and lively parade, craft vendors, food stalls, organized kids games, live music, brewery tours, tastings, and a ‘fireworks fiesta’.
9. Capitan, N.M
Celebrate America with a rodeo, cook-offs, and fireworks. (Photo: Smokey Bear Stampede/Facebook)
This central New Mexican village, at the foot of the Capitan Mountains, spreads it’s Independence Day celebrations out over several days as it plays host to the nation’s largest open rodeo — The Smokey Bear Stampede Rodeo. Tens of thousands of visitors flood the town for the event where they can enjoy night time dances, cook-offs, live music performances, competitive sporting events, a fun run, the parade and fireworks.
10. Brunswick, Ga.
A day of good old fashioned fun in Brunswick caps off with fireworks on the waterfront. (Photo: ExploreGeorgia.org)
Established in 1771 by the British, this historic port town is proud to play host to its “Old Fashioned July Fourth Celebrations.” From classic games like horseshoes and sack races to outdoor concerts, there is lots for visitors to enjoy before the 30-minute long fireworks display gets underway.
WATCH: The Elf Whisperer of Iceland