Patriotic Travel Destinations in All 50 States
Packed with America-themed holidays, summer is the season of patriotism, coming to a head on Independence Day. In some places, however, Fourth of July festivities and spectacular fireworks are just the capstone on a celebration of American pride and culture that lasts all year long. Here's a salute to places where the primary colors are red, white, and blue.
Established in 1939, the city of Glencoe bills itself as "the City of Patriotism." Gov. Bob Riley bestowed that name upon the town in 2003 in recognition of the city's remarkable outpouring of patriotism and large concentration of military personnel and veterans. Glencoe residents join their neighbors in nearby Gadsden for a Fourth of July fireworks spectacular over the Coosa River.
The city of Skagway is home to the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, one of the most patriotic places in all of Alaska, which is evident every Fourth of July. From parades and color guard displays to pipe bands and meetings with park rangers, the town's love of country is on display in America's last frontier.
You don't have to look far to find displays of patriotism in Tucson. In fact, local merchants begin gearing up for the season of red, white, and blue in early June before the arrival of Flag Day. On Independence Day, the city goes all out with festivals, concerts, fireworks, and Old West-themed attractions.
This Golden State patriot's haven is throwing an Independence Day bash that includes a pancake breakfast, a parade, a festival, a flag-raising ceremony, and a fireworks show. If you have any doubts that it's among the most patriotic destinations in the country, consider its name: the City of American Canyon.
Five military facilities are clustered in or around Colorado Springs, which puts on a massive July Fourth celebration at its Memorial Park. Festivities in the area include a Revolutionary War camp re-enactment at Rock Ledge Ranch Family Fourth, Symphony Above the Clouds in Woodland Park, and the Cripple Creek Fourth of July Celebration.
Considering the genesis of America's founding, New London might sound like the last place to go for Independence Day. But the Sailfest celebration, which has been running for 40 years, extends the celebration of America all the way through July 9 with fireworks, music, and a magnificent boat display.
Delaware is dripping with Colonial history, and its motorists sport the phrase "The First State" on their license plates. Since Delaware's only Revolutionary War battle took place in Newark, that's the place to be on July Fourth. Newark refers to the holiday as Liberty Day, and the event draws 18,000 people. Some 40,000 will watch the city's fireworks display.
America's gateway to space, Cape Canaveral is home to the Kennedy Space Center. On July Fourth, both locals and visitors alike can take in the fireworks, which blast off over nearby Port Canaveral, which is also one of the nation's busiest cruise ship ports. Considering that some of the country's greatest feats were literally launched there, Cape Canaveral is 100 percent American all year round.
Stone Mountain is the most-visited attraction in the state of Georgia, and it's also a patriotic mecca. In 2016, the site hosted an all-military naturalization ceremony for service members finishing their citizenship tests. The laser show and fireworks display at the Fantastic Fourth Celebration are always top notch.
Today, one of America's most solemn war memorials is located on the surface of Pearl Harbor directly above the ship wreckage and entombed sailors below. On July Fourth, visitors can celebrate and pay tribute with a variety of events and activities leading up to the base's fireworks display at night.
For the first time in the 25-year history of the Melaleuca Freedom Celebration, Idaho's most storied July Fourth event is moving to Idaho Falls' Snake River Landing, where organizers believe the views will be even better. Officials promise this year's show will be the biggest fireworks display in the state's long, proud, patriotic history.
Widely considered to be America's greatest president, Abraham Lincoln lived and worked in Springfield, where his presidential library and museum stand today. On July 1, Springfield is planning the Capital City Celebration, which features bands, food, drinks, entertainment, and, of course, fireworks as part of the city's Independence Day festivities.
Hard to argue there's a more patriotic town than a town named Patriot. Established in 1820, the Ohio River town of Patriot is home to just a few hundred residents, but it does July Fourth on a grand scale. Past Independence Day celebrations have included bagpipes, motorcycle ministries, specialty photographers with antique cameras, and visitors from at least five states.
The name of this classic American Midwestern town says it all. What better place to celebrate America's independence than in Independence? The city, which trades on its name through year-round patriotic fervor, is hosting a massive July 4 event that culminates in a fireworks display over the scenic Wapsipinicon River.
One of the most uniquely American towns in the country, El Dorado is steeped in both history and national pride. You can enjoy the town's Fourth of July celebration, but don't stop there. Make sure to pay a visit to the 1958 Tornado Victims' Memorial, which pays tribute to the many people who braved violent weather instead of leaving the state.
Mainers have called Portland home for more than a century before America was considered a country -- and that patriotic pride can be seen all over the quaint New England town. Take its Stars and Stripes Spectacular, for example. That's the town's Fourth of July celebration, which stokes the city's all-American spirit.
For Civil War buffs, the town of Sharpsburg is a special and sacred place. The Battle of Antietam was the deadliest single day in American history, and a visit to Antietam National Battlefield makes the hallowed ground all that more real. In honor of Independence Day, the Maryland Symphony Orchestra is playing a special concert on July 1 for as many as 20,000 people.
For some, Massachusetts is the birthplace of American patriotism, and the cozy Cape Cod town of Barnstable represents the state's Revolutionary lineage well on the Fourth of July and beyond. Festivities run all day, starting at 9 a.m., with a series of parades, including an only-in-Cape-Cod patriotic boat parade. The evening brings a concert and fireworks blasted off from a barge in Lewis Bay.
The historic -- and patriotic -- village of Greenmead is in the Wayne County town of Livonia. The town's spectacular Red, White and Barbecue celebration on July 7 is free, but parking costs $5. The festivities include drinks, barbecue, and a huge fireworks display.
Fourth Fest, Duluth's trademark Independence Day celebration, is a microcosm of the city's yearlong patriotic spirit. Not only can visitors take in the upper Midwest's largest fireworks display, but they can enjoy food and craft vendors as well as a carnival. This year, Duluth unveiled its patriotic, 9/11-themed Dream Keepers statue.
The 1863 siege of Vicksburg was one of the fiercest battles of the Civil War. The results of the crushing Union victory left the town's residents so bitter that Vicksburg canceled its Independence Day celebrations for more than 80 years until the end of World War II. In 2017, both Northerners and Southerners alike can gather in peace for music, food, activities, and a massive display of fireworks over the mighty Mississippi River.
It's not hard to imagine that a city named after a founding father would ooze patriotism, and visitors to Jefferson City are rarely disappointed. The patriotic spirit of the state's capital city is embodied in its massive Salute to America Fourth of July festivities, which include a concert in an old penitentiary, historic and military displays, and 17 city blocks of themed areas.
The epitome of small-town patriotism, Laurel hosts a magnificent fireworks display every year. In 2017, the theme is "Ignite the Spirit of America." It all starts at 6 a.m. with the traditional pancake breakfast. Stick around for the kiddie parade, the grand parade, the food and craft fair, and, of course, the fireworks. Admission is $6 for adults, $4 for kids. Kids 6 and under are free.
One of the most unique fireworks displays in the country takes place in Omaha at TD Ameritrade Park. A nod to America's pastime, the World-Herald Fireworks Display follows the College Home Run Derby, which is aired live on ESPN. Tickets to the July 1 event are $12 for adults and $8 for kids, but grownups can score $8 tickets by using promo code BATS.
The Rockets Over the River display in Laughlin is one of the most interesting Fourth of July celebrations in the West and the country as a whole. The pyrotechnic display, which is choreographed to patriotic music, shimmers off the Colorado River, but is set against the backdrop of the pitch-black desert sky.
New Hampshire oozes patriotism. Its license plates read "Live Free or Die;" its residents are the first in the nation to vote in primaries; and Paul Revere's original ride took place in this state. The tiny town of Gorham embodies this patriotic spirit, and so does its Fourth of July celebration, which claims to be the biggest in the state.
One of the most famous and critical battles of the Revolutionary War took place at Trenton after George Washington's legendary crossing of the Delaware River, and the city is bursting with patriotic monuments and memorials. Arm & Hammer Park, home of the Trenton Thunder minor league baseball team, puts on spectacular post-game fireworks displays. This July Fourth, fireworks will fill the sky set to patriotic music after a game against the Reading (Pa.) Fightin Phils.
Farmington feels the patriotic spirit so thoroughly that it celebrates not just July Fourth, but an entire week-long celebration called Freedom Days. From skateboard competitions and eating contests to concerts and yo-yo competitions, the city's Independence Day festivities are among the most unique in the country.
It's hard to imagine a city going more all out for the Fourth of July than New York City, which puts on a legendary fireworks show over the East River and broadcasts the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest to the world. In the city that's home to the Statue of Liberty, the Freedom Tower, and the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum, patriotism rings out every day of the year.
The island beaches of Wilmington celebrate July Fourth from the Cape Fear River to the sea with more than a dozen events and festivals. Free movies, free concerts and, of course, free fireworks are all part of the celebration. The city is also an awesome place to hang out all year round.
In 2013, USA Today named Oklahoma City the second-most patriotic city in the country. If its July Fourth celebration is any indication, residents have been working hard to take the No. 1 spot in the ensuing years. Its Red, White and Boom celebration, which includes a concert and fireworks, is free to the public.
In the lead up to July Fourth in 1863, thousands of Americans weren't celebrating, but instead were locked in ferocious combat in one of the most pivotal battles in American history. Visit Gettysburg and take in the history, especially around July Fourth, when re-enactors recreate the battle, which was fought July 1-3. Then, stick around for the fireworks, concert and Independence Day celebration the next day.
Head to Newport, where you'll find Fort Adams, one of the oldest, largest and most extensive coastal fortifications in North America. Soldiers, their families and even their pets called it home for generations from Colonial times to World War II. Newport is also a great place to spend July Fourth, when fireworks light up the sky over the harbor that the fort defended for so long.
Mount Rushmore is arguably the most patriotic piece of land in the entire United States. What better way to celebrate the nation's independence than by staring at the famous faces of four legendary presidents immortalized in stone? Although the celebration no longer includes fireworks, exciting events are scheduled for July 3, including Native American dancing and the Air Force Academy rock band.
For more than 30 years, Addison Kaboom Town has been named one of the top spots for July Fourth fireworks in the country. Head to Addison Circle Park, which opens at 4 p.m. on July 3 for the fireworks show, and be sure to check out the air show and watch parties. There is no admission fee, but visit the website for prohibited items and other restrictions.
The city of Oakley prides itself on its patriotism, and the spirit shines through on July Fourth. In a celebration that is both uniquely American and Western, the Oakley Independence Day Rodeo and Celebration features rodeos, barbecues and fireworks every day from June 30 through July 4.
Virginia Beach takes patriotism to the next level on July Fourth with the Stars and Stripes Explosion, which features live music, fireworks, and plenty of flag waving. Just to prove how much red, white, and blue the town can pack in, Virginia Beach also plays host to its namesake Patriotic Festival.
A city where the Air Force's 92nd Air Refueling Wing is one of the biggest employers, Spokane spares no expense on Independence Day. Visitors and locals alike can head to Riverfront Park for a free celebration that culminates in a huge fireworks display. Or they can watch fireworks and enjoy a live concert at nearby Liberty Lake's Pavilion Park.
The town of Alderson is so patriotic that it starts celebrating the Fourth of July on June 24. The all-American affair, which runs through July 5, includes parades, bike races and events, a presentation of colors, and the city's famous rubber-duck race, which closes out the festivities.
Columbus has a long and proud history of patriotic outpouring. The Columbus Civil War Monument is just one testament to the city's national pride. A parade and a fireworks extravaganza are just part of the city's huge July Fourth celebrations, which are free to the public and run all the way through July 8.
Few states embody Old West patriotism like Wyoming, and in Wyoming, Jackson Hole stands out in representing the red, white, and blue. The city's Fourth of July celebration includes not just a parade, but a bevy of yesteryear activities that add to the ambiance, like a rodeo and a shootout.