Nearly every town in the United States celebrates the Fourth of July in commemoration of America’s independence from Great Britain. Some towns, however, celebrate it bigger and better than others. In addition to the traditional parades and fireworks displays, the towns described below host historical reenactments, full-on carnivals, cannon salutes, and even frog jumping races! These are the 30 best small towns for Fourth of July celebrations.
The small town of Addison consistently ranks as one of the best places in Texas to spend Independence Day. The celebration actually begins on July 3 when Addison Circle Park becomes “Kaboom Town” and one of the most impressive fireworks shows around occurs. While you’re in town to celebrate, be sure to stop in at Addison’s American Fallen Soldiers Project National Gallery. Here, you’ll see portraits of fallen military service members before the beautiful images are gifted to their families.
As a designated Coast Guard City, and home to both the Alameda Naval Air Museum and the USS Hornet Museum, the Bay Area town of Alameda knows a thing or two about patriotism. Each year, more than 60,000 people travel to Alameda to enjoy the Independence Day festivities, including the parade. At 3.3 miles long, the Mayor’s Fourth of July Parade is said to be one of the longest in the country, and includes horseback riders, dance troupes, marching bands, classic cars, elaborate floats, and just about anything else you can think of!
When celebrating Independence Day in Bangor, Maine, don’t forget to get up early! The festivities start first thing with a community-wide pancake breakfast followed by a full day of activities. The annual 4th of July parade starts in the neighboring town of Brewer before ending in downtown Bangor. Down on the waterfront, live music keeps everyone entertained until nightfall when the fireworks take off!
According to Visit Bend’s official website, “Bend’s old-fashioned 4th of July celebration is like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting.” Indeed, there’s a ton of fun to be had! A community-wide pancake breakfast kicks things off in the morning, followed by watermelon-eating contests, sack races, organized cycling and paddle boarding, boating, and scavenger hunts. Live music and food trucks keep everyone entertained until 10 P.M., when fireworks are shot off from the top of Pilot Butte. The highlight of Bend’s patriotic celebrations, however, might just be the parade. As a twist on the typical parade, the Fourth of July Pet Parade consists of dogs, horses, and even farm animals decked out in costumes and all things red, white, and blue.
Boyne City, Michigan
It’s widely acknowledged that Boyne City is home to the best fireworks display in all of northern Michigan. But before the multi-colored pyrotechnics explode over Lake Charlevoix, there’s a full day of family-oriented activities to celebrate America’s independence. A community-wide breakfast kicks things off in the morning, followed by live music, lots of food vendors, bouncers and rides for kids, craft shows, parades, a soap box derby, and even a duck race.
Bristol, Rhode Island
Bristol, Rhode Island has a long history of patriotism. In 1675, it was the site of King Phillip’s War, a violent conflict between English settlers and local natives. Bristol was founded by Revolutionary War veterans only a few years later, and in 1785 the town hosted its very first Fourth of July celebration. Today, Bristol is home to the oldest continuously held Independence Day festivities in the country. The party begins on Flag Day and ends three weeks later on July 4. There’s a ton to see and do in those three weeks, including concerts, art fairs, a 2.5-mile parade, and of course, fireworks.
Bryson City, North Carolina
Despite its name, Bryson City is a small Smoky Mountain town with an old-fashioned Americana feel. The town comes alive each year on July 4th. Its full-day Freedom Fest includes a craft fair, live entertainment, hula hoop competitions, a watermelon-eating contest, a Firecracker 5K, and one of the best fireworks shows in the South!
The population of tiny Cody, Wyoming nearly triples come Fourth of July! For more than 100 years, Cody has been celebrating the five-day-long Cody Stampede. The week kicks off with the Cody/Yellowstone Bull-Riding Event, plus a pro rodeo, various parades, a 5K/10K, craft fair, and concerts. People come for miles to experience the Stampede Parade, a celebration of Wild West heritage, local clubs, and groups, and horses.
Cooperstown, New York
Since there are few things more American than baseball, why not spend Independence Day in Cooperstown, New York, home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum? The town puts on a postcard-perfect Fourth of July festival highlighted by its small-town Americana feel. The parade, which actually begins next door in Springfield, is the second oldest Fourth of July parade in the United States. Live entertainment, including historic reenactments, keeps the celebrators entertained as the whole town waits for the exhilarating fireworks show that occurs over Cooperstown’s Otsego Lake.
There’s nothing like a traditional Fourth of July celebration in the heart of America. Charming Fairborn, Ohio’s July festivities are so jam-packed, they have to start it all a day early! On July 3, Main Street becomes lined with food stands, kiddie rides, and live music stages in what becomes a family-friendly, community-oriented, block party-type celebration. The next day, July 4, begins with a traditional patriotic parade followed by fireworks come evening. To top it all off, Fairborn has a huge military presence (the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is located just six miles away), giving a little extra meaning to all that’s being celebrated.
As the only town in the country to have the huge honor of being a Medal of Honor Host City, Gainesville, Texas has, on more than one occasion, been declared the “Most Patriotic Small Town in America.” The small town of 16,000 people solidifies this reputation each year on July 4th when it brings out all the stops to host a fun, safe, and traditional Independence Day celebration. The family-oriented event includes a BBQ, organized activities in the park, and of course, a great fireworks show come nightfall!
Gallup, New Mexico
Fourth of July is a massive event in Gallup, New Mexico. The patriotic day is filled with events, including parades, live entertainment, costumes, and fireworks. Every night between Memorial Day and Labor Day, a local cultural center presents authentic Indian dances to celebrate the town’s rich Native American history and the contribution that local tribes have made to America. The dances are a must-see while in Gallup, as is the touching Veteran’s Memorial which honors the thousands of men and women, including the Navajo Code Talkers, who have served the country from World War I to the present. No wonder little Gallup, New Mexico was voted America’s “Most Patriotic Small Town” by Rand McNally!
Gatlinburg, Tennessee is a favorite summer getaway destination, and a fantastic place to spend the Fourth of July holiday. Between Dollywood, various waterparks, and lots of opportunities for hiking and camping, Gatlinburg is chock-full of fun activities for families. Come July 4, Gatlinburg is proud to host the “first” Independence Day parade in the country — literally. The town’s famous patriotic parade kicks off at midnight on the fourth, making it the very first in America to take place each year.
Why not celebrate America’s independence at Gettysburg, site of one of the bloodiest battles during the Civil War? The always patriotic town of Gettysburg puts its own twist on traditional July 4th activities. A local college sponsors the town’s Patriotic Pops Concert and Fireworks, a full day of live music, family-friendly games and activities, and an evening of awe inspiring fireworks.
Grand Lake, Colorado
Nestled between Rocky Mountain National Park and one of the state’s largest lakes, Grand Lake, Colorado is an ideal place to celebrate Fourth of July. After its Memorial Day parade, the town celebrates all of Constitution Week with live music, craft fairs, and lots of lake action. Come July 4, Grand Lake hosts the Fourth of July Fireworks Extravaganza, a massive fireworks show which draws people from all over.
There’s no other town in America that celebrates Independence Day quite like Hannibal, Missouri. As the childhood home of Mark Twain, and the setting for some of his most famous novels, Hannibal’s Fourth of July doubles as Tom Sawyer Days. As such, children dress up in costumes of the Tom Sawyer era and take part in fun activities like gunny sack races, fence painting, and even frog jumping. There are traditional Fourth of July events too, including live entertainment, a parade, and an impressive fireworks show.
Jefferson City, Missouri
Jefferson City’s Independence Day celebrations, officially called the Salute to America, are practically a month-long celebration. With more than 70,000 visitors who come to take part in the long list of festivities, it’s no wonder it takes many days to fit everything in. Carnival rides, a classic car show, live concerts, and a parade are just a few of the highlights that precede the huge musical fireworks show. While in town for the party, it’s worth making a quick detour to nearby Lincoln University’s Soldiers’ Memorial. The historically black college was founded by members of the 62nd and 65th Colored Infantries, who taught themselves to read and write before teaching their fellow soldiers.
Lake Arrowhead, California
Located just 80 miles from Los Angeles, Lake Arrowhead, California draws quite the crowd for its famous Independence Day celebration. The charming mountain town offers a ton to do, including swimming and boating on the titular lake. Best of all, however, is Lake Arrowhead’s “Fireworks Over the Lake” fireworks display. Done by Pyro Spectaculars, the same company which does Macy’s annual 4th of July show in New York City, Lake Arrowhead’s impressive fireworks display always impresses!
Lead, South Dakota
Lead, located near the always patriotic Mount Rushmore, is often recognized for putting on one of the best 4th of July celebrations in the country. Lead’s Gold Camp Jubilee Days takes place July 2-4, and includes food vendors, craft fairs, live entertainment, historical reenactments, cook offs, mock shootouts, and sporting competitions. The family-oriented Jubilee culminates in a grand fireworks show.
Mandan, North Dakota
Once home to an important railroad stop, a cavalry fort, and lots of farms and ranches, Mandan, North Dakota is a small town with a lot to celebrate. Even today, Mandan proudly declares itself to be “Where the West Begins!” For more than 130 years, Mandan has celebrated Independence Day as a full weekend affair. The three-day-long Mandan Rodeo Days brings in the crowds as professional riders brave bucking bulls and broncos. There’s also a craft fair, complete with live patriotic music, street dances, and historic trolley tours. On the big day, the longest Independence Day parade in North Dakota proceeds through the downtown, followed by a spectacular fireworks display.
Murrells Inlet, South Carolina
Murrells Inlet, South Carolina may be located only 10 miles from Myrtle Beach, but this small town definitely holds its own when it comes to the Fourth of July! Everything about Independence Day in Murrells Inlet is water focused. Even the traditional parade takes place on the water, with boats decked out in all things red, white, and blue. Celebrators spend the day grilling on the beach, while nightfall brings the firework show over the marsh walk.
Newport, Rhode Island
Swanky Newport, Rhode Island has been the go-to summer destination for East Coasters for generations, and it’s easy to see why, especially when it comes to the town’s Fourth of July celebrations. The multi-day festivities include a family bicycle parade, half marathon, traditional New England clambake, and the Independence Cup polo match. In one particularly touching event, local members of the Daughters of the American Revolution and Rhode Island Society Sons of the Revolution conduct a short ceremony and musket salute. It’s held near the grave of William Ellery, the patriot who signed the Declaration of Independence for the new state of Rhode Island. At another point during the celebration, a gun cannon salute is held using four original cannons cast by Paul Revere’s foundry in 1798.
Pueblo, Colorado has a long history of American pride. During Independence Day celebrations, the town comes to life with various events and activities. Many of these take place at Pueblo’s Veterans Bridge or Medal of Honor Memorial. Most unique, however, is Pueblo’s 4th of July Parade. Over the course of the parade, spectators and parade participants alike soak each other with squirt guns, water balloons, and water cannons. Pueblo is hot come July, but the unique twist of seeing who can become the most drenched is a sure way to keep everyone cool and having fun.
Put-in-Bay, Ohio is a small island town that has long been a favorite summer getaway destination. Nestled alongside Lake Erie, Put-in-Bay is a great place for outdoor fun and water sports of all kinds. But this fun summer town really comes alive on Independence Day when the whole place is draped in red, white, and blue bunting and American flags. The festivities kick off with a U.S. Naturalization Ceremony, followed by various lake activities, parades, and food vendors. Come nightfall, the fireworks display takes place from Put-in-Bay’s International Peace Memorial, the unique 352-foot Doric column that towers over Lake Erie.
Rock Hill, South Carolina
Rock Hill, South Carolina is an inviting small town with a proud history and a fantastic July 4th celebration! Rock Hill established itself early on as a bastion for civil rights. Visitors can learn all about it by tracing the town’s Freedom Walkway and admiring the mural honoring the many “local defenders of equality.” Come Independence Day, Rock Hill’s Red, White, & BOOM! Festival pulls out all the stops to celebrate the 4th with rides, food trucks, live music, and a fireworks show.
Seguin, Texas’s massive Independence Day celebration — the Freedom Fiesta — begins a whole three days before July 4. Seguin’s population, plus plenty of visitors, flock to the town’s Central Park on the Square to enjoy the ceremonial flag raising, patriotic concerts in the old-fashioned bandstand, food trucks, and of course, fireworks. One particular highlight of the Freedom Fiesta is Seguin’s “Biggest Small-Town Fourth of July Parade,” which draws hundreds of entries and even more flag-waving cheerers.
St. Augustine, Florida
St. Augustine, Florida is America’s oldest city and home to one of the best 4th of July celebrations. Granted, time spent in St. Augustine is always a blast. The walkable downtown area has a ton of fun shops and restaurants, while trolley tours shuttle tourists to various places of interest. On July 4, the whole town comes together to celebrate Independence Day. Of the full calendar of events and activities, highlights include the All-Star Orchestra’s patriotic performance in Plaza de la Constitucion and the massive fireworks display over Matanzas Bay.
Virginia City, Nevada
During the mining boom of the 1800s, Virginia City, Nevada was the most important industrial center between San Francisco and Denver. Today, it’s back to being a small town with an inviting, tourist magnet of a downtown straight out of your favorite Wild West film. For the town’s annual Fourth of July Celebration, that downtown is draped in red, white, and blue bunting, plus banners honoring fallen soldiers and those currently serving. The Fourth of July parade brings out big crowds, as does the impressive fireworks show which the director of Virginia City tourism promises: “You can feel the boom of the fireworks in your bones!”
Considering this small town was named after George Washington before he was even the nation’s first president, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that Washington, Georgia knows how to celebrate Independence Day! Washington’s Freedom Fireworks Extravaganza is an absolutely massive celebration. On July 3, the festivities kick off on the lawn of the town square with a grand fireworks display. Following is a full day of food vendors, rides, arts and crafts, a parade, tours of historic homes, and even the chance to zipline between downtown buildings!
Granted, every day is a patriotic day in Williamsburg, Virginia. During America’s colonial period, Williamsburg spent 81 years as the capital of influential Virginia colony. Today, it’s the largest living history museum in the world and a place Reader’s Digest calls “the ultimate history’s buff’s paradise.” Original and reconstructed 18th-century homes and buildings cover approximately 300 acres. Visitors can tour homes and gardens, take a horse-drawn carriage ride, and even interact with skilled tradespeople, militia, and performers. While every visit to Williamsburg feels like a celebration of American history, the historic town is especially worth a trip over Independence Day when there are dozens of patriotic events to enjoy.