Stonehenge Re-Creation, Missouri
Courtesy of visitrolla.com

Where to Celebrate the First Day of Summer in All 50 States

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Stonehenge Re-Creation, Missouri
Courtesy of visitrolla.com

Enjoy Summer’s Long Days

The summer solstice, which occurs the third week in June, marks the official start of summer in the northern hemisphere. It's also the longest day of the year. Take advantage of the extra daylight by heading outdoors to enjoy one of the many events happening around this date, such as music festivals, family-friendly street parties, and activities at scenic parks. Here are free and cheap ways to enjoy the solstice in each state.

Little River Canyon
Rob Hainer/shutterstock

Alabama: Little River Canyon

Head to the southern Appalachians for a long summer day’s worth of outdoor adventure at Little River Canyon. Taking in waterfalls, canyons, cliffs, and bluffs is a scenic way to spend extra daylight hours.

Solstice Festival & Hero Games
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Alaska: Solstice Festival & Hero Games

Anchorage enjoys a whopping 22 hours of daylight on the summer solstice. The city takes advantage of the extra sun with a number of celebrations. Downtown Anchorage becomes the scene for the family-friendly Solstice Festival and Hero Games on June 22.

'Knight Rise' Sculpture
ScottsdaleMuseumContemporaryArt/facebook.com

Arizona: ‘Knight Rise’ Sculpture

Visit the outdoor sculpture courtyard at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art to observe the solstice sky through artist James Turrell’s sculpture "Knight Rise." Visitors can look through an elliptical opening in the ceiling that creates an illusion of the sky descending upon them. The effect is most dramatic at sunrise and sunset. Museum admission is $10.

Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park - Arkansas
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Arkansas: Toltec Mounds State Park

Visit the Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park, which are the remains of a government and ceremonial site that was inhabited from 650 to 1050 A.D. Entrance to the park is free, but on June 22, visitors can join an evening solstice celebration that includes a presentation on how the mounds align with the solstice sunset. Admission is $4 for adults, $3 for kids.

Santa Barbara Solstice Parade
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California: Santa Barbara Solstice Parade

Head to Santa Barbara to experience the city’s yearly summer solstice parade and festival, held June 21-23. Enjoy musical performances and a kid-friendly play area to ring in the longest days of the year.

Scandinavian Midsummer Festival
estesmidsummer/facebook.com

Colorado: Scandinavian Midsummer Festival

Celebrate the solstice and Scandinavian culture at the annual Scandinavian Midsummer Festival in Estes Park June 21-23. Music, Viking re-enactments, dance groups, craft tents, and traditional folk art are just some of the family-friendly offerings.

Stamford Museum & Nature Center
Stamford Museum & Nature Center/facebook.com

Connecticut: Stamford Museum & Nature Center

Observe the solstice by taking in the night sky at Stamford Museum & Nature Center. On most Fridays throughout the summer, visitors can view the stars through a research telescope at the observatory. The fee is $5 for adults and $3 for children.

The Labyrinth
The Labyrinth by Emil (None)

Delaware: Delaware Art Museum

Walk through a labyrinth at the Delaware Art Museum to celebrate the summer solstice sunset. The June 21 event is free, but donations are welcome to help maintain the labyrinth.

Miami Beach Botanical Garden
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Florida: Miami Beach Botanical Garden

Long summer days are the perfect time to visit the Miami Beach Botanical Garden. Stroll through the lush grounds, or participate in a yoga class (held Sundays). Admission to the garden is free.

Allatoona Creek, Price Park
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Georgia: Allatoona Creek Park

The weekend after the solstice brings an intense three-hour mountain bike race and trail run. The Allatoona Creek Trails Summer Solstice Races on June 22 follow the trails of Allatoona Creek Park in Acworth, northwest of Atlanta.

Waikiki Beach
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Hawaii: Waikiki Beach

There’s really no bad place in Hawaii to enjoy a long summer’s day and a solstice sunset, but Hawaii Magazine names Waikiki one of the best spots for sunset viewing, with numerous free beach areas and inviting gentle waves for water sports. Play and take in the views.

Craters of the Moon National Monument
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Idaho: Craters of the Moon National Monument

A long summer day becomes a little bit more magical when experienced at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve in Arco. Described as an ocean of lava flows, the area is popular with hikers and explorers who enjoy investigating this "weird and scenic" landscape.

Make Music Chicago
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Illinois: Make Music Chicago

Make Music Chicago is an annual musical festival that takes place on June 21 and marks summer’s longest day with music from morning to night. Musicians of any skill level and age are encouraged to celebrate everyone’s ability to make music.

Mounds State Park
moundsstatepark/facebook.com

Indiana: Mounds State Park

Mounds State Park near Anderson is home to 10 unique earthworks built by American Indians known as the Adena-Hopewell people. On June 22, visitors can join park staff for a summer solstice celebration and learn about the people who built the mounds.

Ledges State Park
John Brueske/shutterstock

Iowa: Ledges State Park

Head to Ledges State Park in Madrid for a day’s worth of outdoor adventure. History buffs will appreciate archaeological sites that date back 4,000 years, but there are also plenty of other activities, such as hiking, biking, fishing, and canoeing.

IMG 7340
IMG 7340 by Mike Rodriquez (CC BY-NC-SA)

Kansas: Lindsborg Midsummer’s Festival

Celebrate the summer solstice a few days early on June 15 at the Midsummer’s Festival in Lindsborg, known regionally as Little Sweden. The festival features music, food, dance, and games, including a kubb, a traditional Nordic game best described as a combination of bowling, bocce, and horseshoes.

Big South Fork Recreation Area
Zack Frank/shutterstock
City Park
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Louisiana: City Park

City Park in New Orleans is the scene of many activities for all ages, as well as a place to observe beautiful greenery — it has the world's largest grove of mature live oaks. In previous years, the park has been the site of a number of celebrations honoring the day.

Rockland Summer Solstice Celebration
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Maine: Rockland Summer Solstice Celebration

Rockland hosts a citywide summer solstice party on June 15. Now in its 25th year, it's an evening of music, sidewalk sales, activities, and a variety of food — including the "official" Maine treat featured at a whoopie-pie-eating contest.

Assateague State Park
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Maryland: Assateague State Park

Enjoy a long summer day at Assateague State Park, Maryland's only oceanfront park. The island park offers swimming, sunning, fishing, and — most uniquely — wild horses, making it one of the few places in the country where visitors can view feral horses, which have roamed Assateague Island for centuries.

Harvard Museums of Science & Culture
harvardmuseumsofscienceandculture/facebook.com

Massachusetts: Harvard Museums of Science & Culture

Harvard University opens its doors to the public June 21 for the Harvard Museums of Science & Culture's annual Summer Solstice Celebration. Admission and parking are free and the wide variety of activities includes circus performers, dances, crafts, and music aimed at the kid in everyone.

Summer Solstice Jazz Festival
SummerSolsticeJazzFestival/facebook.com

Michigan: Summer Solstice Jazz Festival

Enjoy the solstice with jazz music at the Summer Solstice Jazz Festival in East Lansing. On June 21-22, this major music event will feature a host of accomplished musicians, including Jane Bunnett & Maqueque and Straight Ahead.

Summer Solstice Dog Shows
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Minnesota: Summer Solstice Dog Shows

In Minnesota, dog lovers can get in on the summer solstice celebrations when two local kennel clubs host the Summer Solstice Cluster of Dog Shows, June 20-23. Come watch the dogs compete or put your own pooch in the limelight.

Cypress Swamp
Cypress Swamp by Art DiTommaso (CC BY-NC-ND)

Mississippi: Cypress Swamp

Experience the solstice sunrise or sunset at Cypress Swamp, where an enchanting wooden walking path winds through a swamp populated with water tupelo and bald cypress trees. The short 0.4-mile walk can easily be completed in 20 minutes, but on a more leisurely stroll, you're more likely to spot wildlife including turtles and alligators.

Stonehenge Re-Creation, Missouri
Courtesy of visitrolla.com

Missouri: Stonehenge Re-Creation

Visit Missouri’s own Stonehenge for the solstice. This partial reconstruction of the ancient structure outside of London was built at Missouri Science & Technology University in 1984 and is a place for students and visitors alike to observe and mark the seasons. These modern re-creations are the largest monuments ever cut using a water jet.

Going-to-the-Sun Road
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Montana: Going-to-the-Sun Road

Take advantage of summer’s longest day by driving the Going-to-the-Sun Road at Glacier National Park in Montana. The scenic, 50-mile drive is a historic landmark that takes drivers through the main parts of the park. It features gorgeous mountain views (including snow-capped peaks), wildlife sightings, and hiking trails, and it is open only in the summer.

Scandinavian Midsummer Festival
Courtesy of omaha.com

Nebraska: Scandinavian Midsummer Festival

The annual Scandinavian Midsummer Festival will be June 23 in Omaha’s Elmwood Park. Admission is free to the family-friendly and alcohol-free event, which will feature folk dancing, games, foods like kottbullar (Swedish meatballs) and lefse (Norwegian flatbread), and music from folk duo Greenblatt and Seay.

Valley of Fire State Park
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Nevada: Valley of Fire State Park

Escape from the casinos to take in beautiful natural scenery at Valley of Fire State Park, about 50 miles north of Las Vegas. The area features breathtaking views of red sandstone rock formations that appear to glow. Dedicated in 1935, Valley of Fire is Nevada's oldest state park and includes almost 36,000 acres — nearly 43 times the size of New York's Central Park.

America's Stonehenge
America's Stonehenge by NikiSublime (CC BY)

New Hampshire: America’s Stonehenge

The Granite State's version of Stonehenge is possibly the oldest man-made "construction" in the United States, built an estimated 4,000 years ago, and is believed to be an accurate astronomical calendar. Today, America's Stonehenge, as it's called, is the site of an annual solstice celebration that encourages participation in ancient rituals that honor the sun. The program begins at 1 p.m. on June 22. There's a $13 fee for access to the site, with an additional suggested donation of $8 to support the solstice event.

Barnegat Lighthouse State Park
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New Jersey: Barnegat Lighthouse State Park

Take in the solstice sunlight at Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, where visitors can enjoy panoramic views of Island Beach, Barnegat Bay, and Long Beach Island from the top of the 160-year-old lighthouse for a $3 entrance fee. Other activities at the park include hiking, picnicking, fishing, and bird watching.

Chaco Culture National Historical Park
Courtesy of friendsofchaco.org

New Mexico: Chaco Culture National Historical Park

Chaco Culture National Historical Park in Nageezi has the distinction of being named one of four "Dark Sky Parks," meaning it's one of the best places in the country to stargaze. Mark the solstice by exploring the park’s collection of archaeological artifacts.

Yoga in Times Square
Times Square, New York City/facebook.com

New York: Yoga in Times Square

New York yogis will likely be found celebrating the summer solstice in Times Square on June 21 at an annual gathering that offers free yoga classes throughout the day to honor the sun. Classes are held starting at 7:30 a.m.

Greensboro Solstice Festival
Greensboro Summer Solstice/facebook.com

North Carolina: Greensboro Solstice Festival

Join local artisans, performers, and business owners for the annual summer solstice celebration in Greensboro on June 22. The festival, which started in 2005, features three stages with six hours of planned music, a parasol parade, and a bazaar. Stick around after sundown for a "fire finale" at 9 p.m., showcasing fire spinners and other performers. Admission is $5 for adults.

Maltese Cross Cabin in Medora, North Dakota
zrfphoto/istockphoto

North Dakota: Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Head to Theodore Roosevelt National Park to view painted canyons or journey through the Badlands. Several guided tours and campfire events are also offered during summer. Entrance is $30 per vehicle.

Fort Ancient
Fort Ancient Earthworks & Nature Preserve/facebook.com

Ohio: Fort Ancient

Early risers will want to join the summer solstice sunrise viewing at Fort Ancient in Oregonia. The free event on June 21 starts at 5:45 a.m. and gives attendees a chance to learn more about this historic landmark, once home to Native Americans of the Hopewell tradition.

Spiro Mounds Archaeological Center
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Oklahoma: Spiro Mounds Archaeological Center

Take a guided walk at the Spiro Mounds Archaeological Center on June 21. This two-hour tour includes discussion of 12 mounds built by Native Americans hundreds of years ago that line up with the solstice and equinox sunsets. The event is set to begin at 7 p.m., allowing guests to observe sunset. It costs $5 for adults and $3 for kids in addition to the regular admission charge of $7 for adults, $5 for seniors, and $4 for kids. Before you go, check the Facebook page to make sure the center is open, as the grounds have been subject to recent flooding.

Tryon Creek State Natural Area
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Oregon: Tryon Creek State Natural Area

Guided nature walks are a popular summer solstice activity, and Tryon Creek State Natural Area in Portland offers a free stroll on June 21. The walk is geared to families with young children, but all are welcome.

Codorus Blast Festival in the Park
TheCodorusBlastFestivalInThePark/facebook.com

Pennsylvania: Codorus Blast Festival in the Park

The Codorus Blast Festival in the Park, running June 14-16, promises tons of fun leading up to the solstice. Find a variety of food, kid-friendly arts and crafts, and even a dock-diving competition for dogs for a $5 donation to benefit Codorus State Park.

Blackstone River Theatre Summer Solstice Festival
BlackstoneRiverTheatre/facebook.com

Rhode Island: Blackstone River Theatre Summer Solstice Festival

The town of Cumberland is the setting for the annual Blackstone River Theatre Summer Solstice Festival on June 15. Mark the long summer day by taking in an array of musical performances for $15.

Ravenel Bridge
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South Carolina: Ravenel Bridge

Stroll the incredible Ravenel Bridge in Charleston to commemorate summer’s longest day. The 2.5-mile suspension bridge has eight lanes as well as bike and pedestrian paths.

Marion Summer Celebration
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South Dakota: Marion Summer Celebration

The small city of Marion holds its summer celebration June 14-16, offering family-friendly fun such as a parade, car show, fireworks, bingo, and a chislic feed (mutton on a stick). Run or walk off those extra calories during the 5K race.

RC-Moon Pie Festival
RC-Moon Pie Festival by Jimmy Emerson, DVM (CC BY-NC-ND)

Tennessee: RC-Moon Pie Festival

The annual RC-Moon Pie Festival arrives in the tiny town of Bell Buckle every third weekend in June. Now in its 25th year, the event takes place June 15 and offers plenty of all-day fun with music, games, clog dancing, and, of course, food. Featured fare includes Tennessee smoked barbecue, hand-squeezed lemonade, RC Cola, and deep-fried moon pies — don't miss the cutting of the world’s largest moon pie.

Fort Worth Botanic Garden
FortWorthBotanicGarden/facebook.com

Texas: Fort Worth Botanic Garden

Get in touch with nature this year with a trip to Texas' oldest botanic garden. A water-conservation garden features xeric plants, and a working vegetable garden includes fruit trees and a greenhouse. During the summer, the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra plays under the stars, and on June 22, the music of the Beatles will be featured.

Parowan Gap Petroglyphs
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Utah: Parowan Gap

The Parowan Gap Petroglyphs are on the National Register of Historic Places. The site has hosted summer solstice events for more than 20 years, as people gather to watch the sunset through the gap.

Quechee Gorge
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Vermont: Quechee Gorge

Called "Vermont's Little Grand Canyon," Quechee Gorge is a unique place to view a solstice sunrise or sunset. Pack a picnic, hike to the waterfalls, and take in the view for free.

Summer Solstice Wine Festival
Virginia-Summer-Solstice-Wine-Festival/facebook.com

Virginia: Summer Solstice Wine Festival

The whole family can enjoy the Virginia Summer Solstice Wine Festival on June 22, with plenty of food, arts and crafts, live music, and more to complement wine tasting for the grown-ups. The event takes place at Lazy Days Winery in Amherst, the ideal spot for a long and lazy solstice day.

Fremont Fair
Fremont Fair/facebook.com

Washington: Fremont Fair

The Fremont Fair is a free-spirited weekend of food, music, arts, and shopping in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood. The event, running June 22-23, is free to attend, and visitors can expect to see plenty of costumed revelers.

Appalachian Trail
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West Virginia: Appalachian Trail

Spend part of the day hiking the 4-mile stretch of the historic Appalachian Trail that runs through the eastern edge of West Virginia. Much of the trail traverses Harpers Ferry, site of John Brown's Raid and several Civil War battles. Taking in the views, especially across the Shenandoah River, is a memorable way to spend the first day of summer.

Make Music Madison
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Wisconsin: Make Music Madison

Madison hosts a yearly free outdoor music celebration around the time of the summer solstice. This year the event takes place on June 21. It features more than 1,000 artists at more than 100 venues and is open to musicians of all ages and skill levels.

Crimson Dawn Park & Museum
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Wyoming: Crimson Dawn Park & Museum

Crimson Dawn Park & Museum in Mills, Wyoming, is the scene for a summer solstice celebration that’s been running since 1929. Every year on June 21, the park hosts a Midsummer’s Eve event. Visitors gather to enjoy an evening of storytelling, strolling through a network of shrines, and snacking on cookies and hot chocolate at a bonfire. Admission is free, although donations are appreciated.