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10 Fun Ways to Spend Independence Day in the U.S.

By:  Michelle Leifer Jun 17, 2013
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Nashville, TN July 4th Fireworks 2012

An impressive fireworks display is just one of the events you can enjoy in Nashville on July 4th.

The Fourth of July is traditionally celebrated with barbecues and fireworks. But if you’re looking to add something different into the mix, here are interesting options for enjoying Independence Day around the U.S.

Bristol, VT — The Great Outhouse Race

This quirky event has become a time-honored tradition in this small town 20 minutes north of Middlebury, Vt. Every July 4th since 1979, local companies show up with their custom-built outhouses and race through the center of town toward the toilet paper finish line. The battle begins at 9 a.m. and is followed by a more traditional parade.

For more information, visit Bristol’s 4th of July website.

Nashville, TN — Music City July 4th Concert

In addition to being America’s birthday, July 4th also happens to be National Country Music Day. You can celebrate both holidays at once if you head to Nashville. The “Music City July 4th: Let Freedom Sing!” event kicks off at 1 p.m. at  Riverfront Park and continues into the evening with performances by country music notables. There will also be a fireworks display choreographed to live music by the Nashville Symphony Orchestra.

For more information, go to the Visit Music City website.

Maplewood, NJ — Circus, Baking Competition and More

At Memorial Park in Maplewood, NJ, July 4th will be a dog and pony show — quite literally. The Zerbini family circus will perform three shows featuring acrobats, dancers, jugglers, clowns, dogs and ponies. Other town-sponsored activities include an ice cream eating contest, bike parade, pet awards show and a baking competition. There’s truly something for everyone at this small town fest located 30 minutes from New York City.

For more information, visit the Maplewood July 4th website or call 973.477.7687.

Columbia, CA — Columbia’s Glorious 4th of July Celebration

To celebrate just like they did back in the gold rush days, head to this northern California town, which was founded in 1850. The festivities are held in Columbia State Historic Park, and include such traditional activities as a pie eating contest, tug-of-war, climbing a greased pole and finding a needle in a haystack.

For more information, check out the Visit Columbia California website or call 209.536.1672.

Cody, WY — 94th Annual Buffalo Bill Cody Stampede

Cody is a charming town that is the eastern gateway to Yellowstone National Park. Each summer, it hosts a 4-day event with some of the world's best cowboys and cowgirls competing in a mix of steer wrestling and bull riding contests. This year’s stampede kicks off on July 1 and runs through July 4th. The town also hosts a charming parade on the 4th you can check out while you are there. Be sure to stop by the Irma Hotel, where Buffalo Bill, Frederic Remington, Annie Oakley & Calamity Jane all stayed—it’s a great place for a drink or a meal after the parade. If you can’t visit Cody on the 4th, there is also a nightly rodeo from June – August.

For more information, check out the Cody Stampede website and the Buffalo Bill's Cody/Yellowstone Country website.

Glocester, RI — Ancients & Horribles Parade

If you’re looking for an unusual way to celebrate patriotism, don’t miss Glocester’s 87th annual Ancients & Horribles Parade. Everything is fair game in the offbeat parade that spoofs local and national news events, celebrities and other public figures. The parade, which begins at 4 p.m., features participants in improvised costumes traveling down Putnam Pike (US Route 44) on whimsical, homemade floats.

For more information, visit the Glocester, RI website.

Mackinac Island, MI — Stone-Skipping Competition

For something truly out the ordinary, head to Michigan’s Mackinac Island for the annual Stone Skipping Competition. The amateur tournament, which is open to all ages, is held at Windermere Pointe Beach every July 4th at 10 a.m. There is even a clinic where you can get tips from the experts before competing. Or you can just wait and watch the professional stone-skippers do their stuff at noon.

For more information visit stoneskipping.com

Newport Beach Harbor, CA — Old Glory Boat Parade

If your idea of a perfect Fourth of July includes being by the shore, this event is for you. The parade on water starts at 1 p.m. and features more than 100 vessels — from tall clipper ships to yachts, sailboats and dinghies. Each craft is decorated in a patriotic theme, and participants try to outdo each other using music, costumes, live entertainment and lots of spirit.

For more information, go to the Visit Newport Beach website.

Bisbee, AZ — Bisbee Coaster Race

This copper mining town has been the place to be on July 4th since 1914, when the first Bisbee Coaster Race was held. Residents and visitors alike get up early to watch kids race gravity-powered go-karts down hilly streets. The race is followed by a parade and a hard-rock mining and mucking competition that celebrates the town’s history.

For more information, visit the Discover Bisbee website or call 520.432.3554.

U.S. Virgin Islands — National Park Parade and More

Why limit your options to just the 50 states? St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands can be a great place to celebrate as July 4th marks the culmination of a month of cultural activities known as St. John’s Carnival. The festivities get going early early, with a 4 a.m. dance party in the streets outside National Park. The fun continues with a parade at 11 a.m. and fireworks over Cruz Bay harbor at 9 p.m.

For more information go to the Visit the U.S. Virgin Islands website.