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Celebrating Independence Day

  • Grab an American flag, brush up on the words to ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ and prepare for a frenzy of fireworks at America’s annual birthday bash. Taking place on July 4th each year, Independence Day is one of the country’s most important annual events. Here we take a look at some of the best places in the US to join in the fun on the 4th.

  • 1. Washington DC

    As it’s the US capital, it’s no surprise that Washington DC is one of the best places to spend Independence Day. Hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets to join in the celebrations which last throughout the day and into the night. The National Independence Day Parade starts at 11.45am at Constitution Avenue and 7th Street. Make your way to watch the parade and you’ll be treated to the sight of marching bands, elaborate floats and plenty more. Later on, head to the National Mall for ‘A Capitol Fourth’, an annual concert held on the West Lawn at the Capitol Building. Performers taking part this year include Steve Martin, Josh Groban, Matthew Morrison and the National Symphony Orchestra. When it gets dark, fireworks light up the night sky over the Washington Monument. After the Independence Day celebrations are over, you’ll find plenty of reasons to stick around DC for a while. You can explore the fantastic selection of free museums including the National Museum of American History, which houses the original American flag.


    Book hostels in Washington DC | Washington DC free pocket guide and more

  • 2. New York

    If you find yourself in the Big Apple on Independence Day, you’re in for a treat as New York City hosts one of the most spectacular fireworks displays held on the 4th. The Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks usually kick off around 9pm and involve around 6 barges on the Hudson River letting off some 40,000 fireworks. Lasting 25 minutes, the display is set to music and is watched by huge numbers of people every year. For something a little more unusual, try another legendary NYC Independence Day event. Hop on the subway and make your way out to Coney Island where you’ll find Nathan’s Famous, a hugely popular hot dog joint. Every year Nathan’s hosts a hot dog eating contest that attracts quite a crowd. To make sure you can see the action, it’s a good plan to arrive by 11am. It would be a shame to leave New York City without seeing some more of the city. A great way to do this without paying a cent is to hop on the free Staten Island Ferry. The trip last around 25 minutes each way and along the route you’ll get a fantastic look at the city’s famous skyline, the Statue of Liberty and more.


    Book hostels in New York | New York videos, podcasts, free pocket guide and more

  • 3. Boston

    2011 sees the 38th Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular taking place in Boston, one of our favourite cities in the US. Huge numbers of people take to the banks of the Charles River each year to watch the spectacular, which is set to begin at 10.30pm on the 4th. Lighting up the sky over the river, these fireworks can be seen from plenty of different spots so even if you can’t make it into the Oval at the Esplanade, you’ll still get a good view. For those heading to the Oval, you’ll be treated to a concert before the show starts. Performers this year include Lionel Richie and Michael Chiklis. Steeped in history, this is a great city to visit on Independence Day. After the fireworks are done, why not hang around for a few days and check out some of Boston’s top attractions. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a Red Sox game at fabulous Fenway Park, seen by many Bostonians as the home of baseball.


    Book hostels in Boston | Boston podcast, free pocket guide and more

  • 4. San Francisco

    Warm up for Independence Day in San Francisco with a trip to the Fillmore Street Jazz Festival taking place on Fillmore Street on July 2nd and 3rd. During the festival, you’ll be able to hear amazing live performances by jazz musicians from all over the world. On the 4th, Pier 39 is the place you want to be. The party starts at noon and continues until around 9.30pm. Live music and street performers are just some of the entertainment awaiting you throughout the day, and once the sun sets, you can enjoy a fireworks extravaganza over San Francisco Bay (fog permitting). Other good viewing points include the Cannery, Fisherman’s Wharf, Aquatic Park and Ghirardelli Square. As well as the fireworks, you’ll find plenty of bars and restaurants hosting barbeques and parties throughout the city. San Francisco boasts an intriguing collection of neighbourhoods, perfect for some post-Independence Day adventure. Check out the city’s huge Chinatown, stroll through the former hippy hangout of Haight-Ashbury and spend some time in The Castro, the most famous gay neighbourhood in the US.


    Book hostels in San Francisco | San Francisco video, podcasts, free pocket guide and more

  • 5. Miami

    You won’t be stuck for something to do on the 4th of July in Miami, a city famous for its sandy beaches, Art Deco architecture and vibrant nightlife. Make your way to Bayfront Park to check out ‘America’s Birthday Bash’, starting at 3pm and finishing at 9pm. This free event features a huge number of different food stalls, some enjoyable entertainment and a breathtaking fireworks display. In Miami Beach, the big party happens at 8th Street and Ocean Drive. You can enjoy live music from 6.30pm, with a fireworks display taking centre stage at 9pm. If you’re looking for something a bit more traditional, head out to Key Biscayne, an island connected to the Miami mainland. Each year, this island hosts a 4th of July Parade featuring floats, musicians and more. After a day soaking up the sun on Miami’s beaches, you’ll find that the city really sizzles at night. Our favourite area to go out in Miami is South Beach, home to some of the best bars and clubs in the city.


    Book hostels in Miami | Miami podcast, free pocket guide and more

  • 6. New Orleans

    ‘Go 4th on the River’, which is the main Independence Day event in New Orleans, celebrates its 21st anniversary this year. One of the most popular parts of this event is the ‘Duelling Barges Fireworks Extravaganza’. Lauded as one of the best fireworks displays in the country, it starts at 9pm and lights up the sky over the mighty Mississippi River. The French Quarter is one of the most fascinating areas of New Orleans and one of the best ways to learn all about it is by taking a free walking tour. Make your way down to the French Quarter Visitor Center on Decatur Street where 25 tickets are dispatched on a first-come first-served basis half an hour before the tour starts. On this hour-long tour you’ll walk to the Mississippi and learn how the city of New Orleans came into being. Tours depart daily at 9am.


    Book hostels in New Orleans

  • 7. Chicago

    Navy Pier, one of the top attractions in Chicago, is the place to go to watch the city’s best Independence Day fireworks display. Starting at 9pm, these fireworks are shot into the sky over Lake Michigan. After the show, why not check out one of the parties being held at bars and restaurants throughout the city. After a day of overindulgence at Chicago's Independence Day celebrations, you might be in need of somewhere to just go and chill out. Millennium Park, located on E Randolph Street between Michigan & Colombus Avenues, is one such spot. Take your picture at Cloud Gate (also known as ‘The Bean’), the park’s most famous landmark. While you’re there, you can also check out the Crown Fountain or simply enjoy the sun in one of the gorgeous garden areas.


    Book hostels in Chicago | Chicago podcast, free pocket guide and more

  • 8. Los Angeles

    Independence Day celebrations in Los Angeles include ‘Americafest 2011’, which is taking place in Pasadena’s Rose Bowl Stadium. Tickets for the event, which features the biggest fireworks display in Southern California, cost $13. Along with fireworks, it also features live bands and more unusual entertainers including motorbike stuntmen. If you want something a little more conventional, make your way to the Pacific Palisades area of the city for the ‘Red White and Palisades Blue’ parade. This year sees the 63rd edition of the event, which is accompanied by a concert and fireworks at the Stadium by the Sea. Stick around LA and you’ll find so much to see and do. This includes a fantastic array of neighbourhoods for you to explore, from the craziness of Hollywood to more chilled out spots like Santa Monica. One of our favourites is Venice Beach, home to Ocean Front Walk. Stroll along here and you’ll come across an incredibly eclectic mix of characters including bodybuilders and street entertainers.


    Book hostels in Los Angeles | los Angeles video, podcasts, free pocket guide and more

  • Don’t forget, if you’re going to be celebrating Independence Day in any of these great cities, we’ve got a fantastic selection of hostels throughout the US for you to check out.

  • Grab an American flag, brush up on the words to ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ and prepare for a frenzy of fireworks at America’s annual birthday bash. Taking place on July 4th each year, Independence Day is one of the country’s most important annual events. Here we take a look at some of the best places in the US to join in the fun on the 4th.

  • 1. Washington DC

    As it’s the US capital, it’s no surprise that Washington DC is one of the best places to spend Independence Day. Hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets to join in the celebrations which last throughout the day and into the night. The National Independence Day Parade starts at 11.45am at Constitution Avenue and 7th Street. Make your way to watch the parade and you’ll be treated to the sight of marching bands, elaborate floats and plenty more. Later on, head to the National Mall for ‘A Capitol Fourth’, an annual concert held on the West Lawn at the Capitol Building. Performers taking part this year include Steve Martin, Josh Groban, Matthew Morrison and the National Symphony Orchestra. When it gets dark, fireworks light up the night sky over the Washington Monument. After the Independence Day celebrations are over, you’ll find plenty of reasons to stick around DC for a while. You can explore the fantastic selection of free museums including the National Museum of American History, which houses the original American flag.


    Book hostels in Washington DC | Washington DC free pocket guide and more

  • 2. New York

    If you find yourself in the Big Apple on Independence Day, you’re in for a treat as New York City hosts one of the most spectacular fireworks displays held on the 4th. The Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks usually kick off around 9pm and involve around 6 barges on the Hudson River letting off some 40,000 fireworks. Lasting 25 minutes, the display is set to music and is watched by huge numbers of people every year. For something a little more unusual, try another legendary NYC Independence Day event. Hop on the subway and make your way out to Coney Island where you’ll find Nathan’s Famous, a hugely popular hot dog joint. Every year Nathan’s hosts a hot dog eating contest that attracts quite a crowd. To make sure you can see the action, it’s a good plan to arrive by 11am. It would be a shame to leave New York City without seeing some more of the city. A great way to do this without paying a cent is to hop on the free Staten Island Ferry. The trip last around 25 minutes each way and along the route you’ll get a fantastic look at the city’s famous skyline, the Statue of Liberty and more.


    Book hostels in New York | New York videos, podcasts, free pocket guide and more

  • 3. Boston

    2011 sees the 38th Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular taking place in Boston, one of our favourite cities in the US. Huge numbers of people take to the banks of the Charles River each year to watch the spectacular, which is set to begin at 10.30pm on the 4th. Lighting up the sky over the river, these fireworks can be seen from plenty of different spots so even if you can’t make it into the Oval at the Esplanade, you’ll still get a good view. For those heading to the Oval, you’ll be treated to a concert before the show starts. Performers this year include Lionel Richie and Michael Chiklis. Steeped in history, this is a great city to visit on Independence Day. After the fireworks are done, why not hang around for a few days and check out some of Boston’s top attractions. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a Red Sox game at fabulous Fenway Park, seen by many Bostonians as the home of baseball.


    Book hostels in Boston | Boston podcast, free pocket guide and more

  • 4. San Francisco

    Warm up for Independence Day in San Francisco with a trip to the Fillmore Street Jazz Festival taking place on Fillmore Street on July 2nd and 3rd. During the festival, you’ll be able to hear amazing live performances by jazz musicians from all over the world. On the 4th, Pier 39 is the place you want to be. The party starts at noon and continues until around 9.30pm. Live music and street performers are just some of the entertainment awaiting you throughout the day, and once the sun sets, you can enjoy a fireworks extravaganza over San Francisco Bay (fog permitting). Other good viewing points include the Cannery, Fisherman’s Wharf, Aquatic Park and Ghirardelli Square. As well as the fireworks, you’ll find plenty of bars and restaurants hosting barbeques and parties throughout the city. San Francisco boasts an intriguing collection of neighbourhoods, perfect for some post-Independence Day adventure. Check out the city’s huge Chinatown, stroll through the former hippy hangout of Haight-Ashbury and spend some time in The Castro, the most famous gay neighbourhood in the US.


    Book hostels in San Francisco | San Francisco video, podcasts, free pocket guide and more

  • 5. Miami

    You won’t be stuck for something to do on the 4th of July in Miami, a city famous for its sandy beaches, Art Deco architecture and vibrant nightlife. Make your way to Bayfront Park to check out ‘America’s Birthday Bash’, starting at 3pm and finishing at 9pm. This free event features a huge number of different food stalls, some enjoyable entertainment and a breathtaking fireworks display. In Miami Beach, the big party happens at 8th Street and Ocean Drive. You can enjoy live music from 6.30pm, with a fireworks display taking centre stage at 9pm. If you’re looking for something a bit more traditional, head out to Key Biscayne, an island connected to the Miami mainland. Each year, this island hosts a 4th of July Parade featuring floats, musicians and more. After a day soaking up the sun on Miami’s beaches, you’ll find that the city really sizzles at night. Our favourite area to go out in Miami is South Beach, home to some of the best bars and clubs in the city.


    Book hostels in Miami | Miami podcast, free pocket guide and more

  • 6. New Orleans

    ‘Go 4th on the River’, which is the main Independence Day event in New Orleans, celebrates its 21st anniversary this year. One of the most popular parts of this event is the ‘Duelling Barges Fireworks Extravaganza’. Lauded as one of the best fireworks displays in the country, it starts at 9pm and lights up the sky over the mighty Mississippi River. The French Quarter is one of the most fascinating areas of New Orleans and one of the best ways to learn all about it is by taking a free walking tour. Make your way down to the French Quarter Visitor Center on Decatur Street where 25 tickets are dispatched on a first-come first-served basis half an hour before the tour starts. On this hour-long tour you’ll walk to the Mississippi and learn how the city of New Orleans came into being. Tours depart daily at 9am.


    Book hostels in New Orleans

  • 7. Chicago

    Navy Pier, one of the top attractions in Chicago, is the place to go to watch the city’s best Independence Day fireworks display. Starting at 9pm, these fireworks are shot into the sky over Lake Michigan. After the show, why not check out one of the parties being held at bars and restaurants throughout the city. After a day of overindulgence at Chicago's Independence Day celebrations, you might be in need of somewhere to just go and chill out. Millennium Park, located on E Randolph Street between Michigan & Colombus Avenues, is one such spot. Take your picture at Cloud Gate (also known as ‘The Bean’), the park’s most famous landmark. While you’re there, you can also check out the Crown Fountain or simply enjoy the sun in one of the gorgeous garden areas.


    Book hostels in Chicago | Chicago podcast, free pocket guide and more

  • 8. Los Angeles

    Independence Day celebrations in Los Angeles include ‘Americafest 2011’, which is taking place in Pasadena’s Rose Bowl Stadium. Tickets for the event, which features the biggest fireworks display in Southern California, cost $13. Along with fireworks, it also features live bands and more unusual entertainers including motorbike stuntmen. If you want something a little more conventional, make your way to the Pacific Palisades area of the city for the ‘Red White and Palisades Blue’ parade. This year sees the 63rd edition of the event, which is accompanied by a concert and fireworks at the Stadium by the Sea. Stick around LA and you’ll find so much to see and do. This includes a fantastic array of neighbourhoods for you to explore, from the craziness of Hollywood to more chilled out spots like Santa Monica. One of our favourites is Venice Beach, home to Ocean Front Walk. Stroll along here and you’ll come across an incredibly eclectic mix of characters including bodybuilders and street entertainers.


    Book hostels in Los Angeles | los Angeles video, podcasts, free pocket guide and more

  • Don’t forget, if you’re going to be celebrating Independence Day in any of these great cities, we’ve got a fantastic selection of hostels throughout the US for you to check out.


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