Courtesy Colonial Williamsburg / HANDOUT
The celebration: An epic Independence Day destination, Colonial Williamsburg was where such founding fathers as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry and George Mason established and instituted the principles and policies that led to the founding of the nation. On July 4, festivities begin in early morning and don’t cease until the pop of the last fireworks that evening. Have breakfast with Thomas and Martha Jefferson at Shields Tavern before walking to the Capitol for his reading of the Declaration of Independence. Throughout the day are special patriotic programs in the village’s interpretive venues, a militia muster, Colonial games at the market house, firing of muskets and cannons, a salute to the 13 original colonies and music by Williamsburg’s own Fife and Drums. In nearby Yorktown, the new American Revolution Museum at Yorktown (200 Water St.,
historyisfun.org/yorktown-victory-center/liberty-celebration) salutes the 241st anniversary of the Declaration of Independence with military exercises, lectures, and an exhibit featuring a rare July 1776 broadside document with the signatures of the founding fathers. Watch the fireworks from the water, aboard the tall ship Alliance ( sailyorktown.com). Stay at the Williamsburg Lodge (310 England St., colonialwilliamsburg.com/stay/williamsburg-lodge), which also hosts a special Independence Day family bash including dinner, kids’ games and VIP seating for the fireworks (tickets required).
Getting there: Williamsburg is 198-miles from Baltimore, about a three-and-a-half-hour drive.
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Courtesy of Discover Newport / HANDOUT
The celebration: Inaugurated in 1785 by veterans of the Revolutionary War, few cities can be called more patriotic than Bristol — even the center line of its parade route has been permanently painted red, white and blue. Bristol claims to be home to the oldest continuous July 4 celebration in the country; it began in 1785 with patriotic exercises to honor the day. Today’s festivities begin on June 14 with a Flag Day Ceremony and are followed by nightly events (June 20 through July 3) including an interfaith service celebrating religious freedom, a costume ball and concerts. The Independence Day festivities begin July 3 with a two-day carnival with rides, a Drum and Bugle Corps competition, concert performances by The Falcoa Brothers and Songs In The Attic, and ends in fireworks. July 4 kicks off with a speaker on American freedom — this year Lt. Col. Andrew Drake, U.S. Marine Corps advisor to the Secretary of Defense — leading into Bristol’s famous parade with floats, marching bands and military, civic and firemen’s processions. The Point Pleasant Inn (333 Poppasquash Road,
pointpleasantinn.com) is a Narragansett Bay-facing resort offering swimming, gourmet breakfasts and bicycles.
Getting there: Bristol is 385-mile drive from Baltimore, about a six-and-a-half hour drive. Or fly Southwest Airlines from BWI nonstop into Providence (starting at $84) and drive 17 miles to Bristol.
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We looked around the Land of The Free and found an array of July 4 destinations worthy of a journey. While countless towns host festive parades, those we recommend honor U.S. service members who made it their mission to protect our prized democracy.
Many of our selected spots possess great Fourth of July legacies — Bristol, R.I.’s Independence Day celebration claims to be the oldest in the nation — while others offer traditions like costumed reenactors and naturalization ceremonies. And, of course, we found those that are family-friendly and just plain fun, pie eating contests, dog parades and concerts of American music, old and new.
These festivities will make you wish July 4 came more than once a year.
By Stephanie Citron | For The Baltimore Sun