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Planning a Patriotic Fourth of July Celebration

Planning a Patriotic Fourth of July Celebration

Philadelphia is an ideal place for American history buffs to spend the holiday. It’s home to the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were debated and adopted. This year there’s something new for visitors—the Museum of the American Revolution, which opened in April. On July 4th, the city’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway will become the site of a daylong celebration that leads up to a free evening concert featuring R&B star Mary J. Blige, followed by a fireworks display.

A visit to one of America’s national parks, with their breathtaking scenery and outdoor activities, is another great way to celebrate our nation’s 241th birthday. Get a flavor of the old West in Cody, Wyoming, about an hour from Yellowstone National Park. You can watch cowboys and cowgirls compete at the Buffalo Bill Cody Stampede Rodeo July 1–4, with fireworks at dusk on the Fourth. Cody is also home to the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. The museum, which celebrates the region’s history and culture, is marking its centennial in 2017.

Washington, D.C., always throws a big party for Independence Day. Start your visit by viewing the Declaration of Independence at the National Archives. The National Independence Day Parade kicks off at midday on the Fourth of July. In the evening, there’s a free concert on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol, capped off by fireworks over the Washington Monument. The Smithsonian Folklife Festival, held annually on the National Mall, takes place June 29 to July 4 and July 6–9. This year, the festival explores the history of the circus in American life. 

Step back into America’s Colonial past on the Fourth of July with a visit to Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown, which make up Virginia’s Historic Triangle. At Colonial Williamsburg, a living-history museum, the Declaration of Independence is read from the courthouse steps on July 4th, accompanied by a musical salute from a fife and drum corps. Check out the Yorktown Victory Center to learn about a decisive battle in the American Revolution won by the Continental Army under the command of George Washington. Also nearby is Jamestown, where re-creations allow visitors to explore the first successful English settlement on the North American continent, established in 1607. 

At Chicago’s Navy Pier, the Fourth of July is celebrated with a day of fun and fireworks. It’s the departure point for cruises to see the night sky lit up against the backdrop of the city’s stunning skyline. At Millennium Park, a free concert on the Fourth features patriotic favorites like “The Stars and Stripes Forever.” If you can extend your vacation a bit, this year’s Taste of Chicago takes place July 5–9 in Grant Park. The United States’ premiere outdoor food festival features a wide variety of restaurants with something for every taste.

For help planning a Fourth of July getaway, contact Travel Leaders COS at 800-273-0793, locally 719-597-0004, or send us an email at

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