We feel your pain, vacation-starved friends. Independence Day is on a Wednesday this year, and all of our long weekend trip dreams are ruined by the awkward day off in the middle of the week. Like, why, America? Why? Jokes aside, we have the lowdown on how to celebrate July 4 if you can’t spare any vacation days.
It’s all about those staycation day trips and, of course, fireworks. Here’s what’s on our agenda in nine major cities across the United States.
New York City, New York
Day Trip: Even if you can’t make it to the Hamptons, you can still manage a pretty great beach outing from the city. The Rockaways are our beach of choice in NYC. If you want to soak up the sun with a whole bunch of city dwellers, stay near the boardwalk. If you want quiet, head to Fort Tilden (you can rent a bike on the Rockaway boardwalk and ride on over).
Fireworks: East River between 19th and 47th streets or Coney Island
Los Angeles, California
One of my favorite places to watch the sunrise is the Cholla Cactus Garden. Right around the area where the Mojave Desert meets the Sonoran Desert in the Pinto Basin lies over 100,000 cholla cacti! These remarkable plants are well-worth the early wake up call. In the morning light their spines glow a beautiful gold color. Just be careful to keep your distance! This has been your daily dose of @carmexplores for my #joshuatree takeover.
Day Trip: Let’s say you don’t want to deal with the traffic leaving Silver Lake and heading toward the ocean. We get it. Instead, head the opposite direction to Joshua Tree National Park. This is a special occasion after all. Save Santa Monica for when tourists are in town.
Fireworks: Grand Park or Griffith Observatory
Day Trip: You know you want to get on the water. So we think Lake Travis’ 60 miles of blue depths (the limestone bottom of the lake means it always looks that clear) and watersports will satisfy your need to hop in a canoe or kayak or on a jet ski.
Fireworks: Vic Mathias Shores
Day Trip: The Midwest’s biggest city is bustling, so take it a little slower in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It’s got more than 60 breweries and adorable coffee shops all within a short walk through the city’s downtown. Just make sure to bring a designated driver so you can make it back to Chi-Town in time for fireworks and work the next day.
Fireworks: Navy Pier
Day Trip: The Beltline will be pretty packed on the Fourth, so we think you should take to the mountains and hit the Appalachian Trail instead. You can get onto the iconic path’s trailhead just a couple hours outside the city and enjoy lush green alpine landscapes.
Fireworks: International Plaza
Day Trip: We can’t promise there won’t be crowds also heading to Kennebunkport, but we can promise that you’ll eat your fill of seafood in the seaside town in Maine. When you’re not devouring lobster rolls, you can enjoy the ocean spray and a walk along the shore.
Fireworks: Charles River Esplanade
San Francisco, California
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Day Trip: Sure, Napa would be nice, but you know what’s even better? Surfing in Santa Cruz. Or even just dipping a toe in the surf. Save the wine tasting for when the sun isn’t so strong. The coastline is gorgeous here and you’ll be able to chill for the day while catching some waves.
Fireworks: Fisherman’s Wharf
Day Trip: If all the tourists coming into town for Independence Day are overwhelming to you, you can skip out for the day and head to Ocean City, Maryland. The wide open sandy beaches here will make you forget about the daytime crowds around the National Mall.
Fireworks: National Mall
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Day Trip: Hop on the ferry from Seattle and be in the Pacific Northwest wilderness within just a couple hours at the San Juan Islands. If you’re lucky, you can spot wildlife in the archipelago or simply enjoy the views of the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges.
Fireworks: Gas Works Park
Now that you have a handle on 2018’s plans, we have some good news: there won’t be another July 4 on a Wednesday until 2029. Phew.