Road Trips Perfect for Independence Day


The Fourth of July is a great time to celebrate America’s independence by taking a road trip, perhaps to explore a part of the country you haven’t seen before.

Here are some suggestions.

For a celebration with an ocean view, plan a getaway to San Diego. The city’s fireworks display, called the Big Bay Boom, is launched from barges in San Diego Bay, and can be viewed from many spots in the area on July 4th. For a different perspective, book a dinner cruise and take in the fireworks from the water. Earlier in the day, spend some time at Old Town San Diego Historic Park, where a parade, crafts and other activities re-create the Fourth of July as it was celebrated during the city’s frontier days.

Enjoy a Smoky Mountains Independence Day celebration with a trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. For 43 years the town has been the first in the United States to mark the holiday, with a parade of more than a mile long that steps off at 12:01 a.m. on the Fourth. In the early evening, it’s time for Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales, a festival of street performances featuring costumed musicians, storytellers and artisans portraying characters from as far back as the 1800s. Independence Day concludes with a 20-minute fireworks display.

Combine a Fourth of July celebration with culture and the great outdoors on a trip to Denver. On July 3 at Civic Center Park, there’s a concert of patriotic music and a light show, capped by a fireworks display. Spend some time browsing through the city’s many excellent museums –­ visitors have a rare chance to see the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Museum of Nature & Science. Or, take a day trip. Denver offers quick and easy access to the Rocky Mountains. Be back in time for the Cherry Creek Arts Festival, a free outdoor celebration of visual, performing and culinary arts, which takes place July 6-8.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is known for its miles of beaches, boardwalk, resorts and celebrity-designed golf courses. But it’s also a fun place for an Independence Day getaway. In the morning, Pawleys Island holds its annual Fourth of July parade, with visitors and locals taking part. Later in the afternoon, the community of Murrells Inlet is the site of a festive parade of boats. In the evening, Broadway at the Beach, a popular spot for dining, shopping and nightlife, offers a Fourth of July fireworks show.

While it’s mainly known for ski slopes, Stowe, Vermont, is a great choice for a New England Independence Day. The village holds its daylong Old-Fashioned Fourth of July celebration on Main Street. It’s fun for the whole family, with music, food, a pie-eating contest, art sale and a parade. The day ends with a concert, carnival games and fireworks at nearby Mayo Field. Stay through the weekend and you can take in Stowe’s annual Hot Air Balloon Festival, July 6-8.

For help planning a Fourth of July vacation, contact your travel agent.