One thing is always guaranteed on the Fourth of July, unless of course there's rain: fireworks will light up the night sky.
Also guaranteed is the annual hot dog-eating contest at Fish Tales on 22nd Street bayside in Ocean City. It only costs $5 to qualify and if you're fast enough you could go head-to-head with 14 other like-minded souls. Fish Tales hands out more than $1,000 to the "top dogs," so this is a competition you won't want to miss. The action starts at 1 p.m.
After you're done chowing down, head to any one of the nearby resort towns and enjoy free concerts, fireworks and more. Here's what going on near you:
OCEAN CITY: Whether you set up camp near the Inlet or uptown on 125th Street at Northside Park, there's plenty of fun to be had on Independence Day. Both locations offer a free concert at 8 p.m. followed by fireworks at 9:30. Don't forget your chairs and blankets, and if you're looking for parking you may want to take advantage of the flat fee at the Hugh T. Cropper Inlet Parking Lot; for the first time Ocean City will charge $50 for all-day parking.
ASSATEAGUE: The Assateague State Park Nature Center will host its annual summer carnival from 2-5 p.m. All ages are welcome to enjoy games, crafts, nature programs, a pie-eating challenge, a frozen T-shirt contest and more. For more info, call 410-641-2120, ext. 13.
BETHANY BEACH: The 30th annual Fourth of July Parade steps off at noon at the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and Garfield Parkway. That will be followed by a horseshow-throwing contest at 2 p.m., an awards ceremony at 7:15, a free concert on the bandstand at 7:30 and fireworks at dusk. You'll have a great view of the fireworks from anywhere on the beach or boardwalk. In case of rain, fireworks will be set off Friday, July 5.
DEWEY BEACH: Fireworks go off at 9:15 p.m. from Dewey's three waterfront restaurants: Rusty Rudder, Northbeach and Ivy. Owner Alex Pires wants to secure a world record by setting off the most fireworks in 10 minutes. Parking is hard to find, so arrange transportation.
REHOBOTH BEACH: Rehoboth Main Street will once again fund the city's firework spectacular. The fun starts at about 9:15 p.m., but you'll want to arrive early; more than 80,000 people pack into the "Nation's Summer Capital" for the annual Fourth of July celebration.