The Best American Beach Towns for July Fourth
Bristol, Rhode Island
Read more about Bristol's Fourth of July, here.
Why it's amazing: Let us count the ways. It's the nation's oldest Fourth of July celebration, and Bristol is so Fourth-fierce that the center line on its main street is painted red, white, and blue. In Rhode Island, everyone knows that having a house on the Bristol parade route is an automatic increase in its resale value.
Southport, North Carolina
Read more about Southport's Fourth of July, here.
Why it's amazing: No wonder it's our Happiest Seaside Town for 2015 ... this little harbor town knows how to party: as in eight days' worth! It's the state's official Fourth of July celebration: we're talking two parades, a full day of beach events, a Freedom Run, concerts, a Naturalization Ceremony, golf cart parade, a sailing regatta ... and much much more.
St. Augustine, Florida
Read more about St. Augustine's Fourth of July, here.
Why it's amazing: You love big fireworks? This historic Florida beach town's got an enormous show of pyrotechnics (20 minutes of more than 5,000 exploding shells), along with one of the best spots to watch them you've ever seen--from the top of a lighthouse. You've got to reserve in advance, but this one's worth making the extra effort (and climbing the stairs!).
Murrells Inlet, South Carolina
Read more about Murrells Inlet's Fourth of July, here.
Why it's amazing: Coastal Living contributor and all-around travel guru Peter Greenberg (who writes so beautifully here about Catalina Island), shared this undiscovered gem that's just 10 miles up the road from Myrtle Beach. The focus here is all on the water, with a boat parade and fireworks over the town's marshwalk.
Traverse City, Michigan
Read more about Traverse City's Fourth of July, here.
Why it's amazing: You have to love that Fourth of July is the centerpiece of this Great Lakes beach town's National Cherry Festival, which runs a whole week. Start Independence Day with a cherry pancake breakfast, watch the U.S. Navy Blue Angels overhead in the afternoon, and finish with epic fireworks over Lake Michigan's Grand Traverse Bay... with thousands of your fellow pyrotechnic fans.
San Juan Island, Washington
Read more about San Juan Island's Fourth of July, here.
Why it's amazing: Where else can you attend a historic Pig War Picnic as part of your Independence Day celebrations (look it up)? Enjoy old-fashioned, small-town fun in Friday Harbor, from the morning parade to a dance down by the docks at this incredibly scenic getaway.
Huntington Beach, California
Read more about Huntington Beach's Fourth of July, here.
Why it's amazing: One: Huntington Beach (known far and wide as Surf City USA) is a perfect beach town, made for surf, sand, and parties. Two: The town's 4th of July celebration has been around since 1904. That's seriously historic. The party is a three-day event, and the fireworks are epic, lasting 23 minutes.
Read more about Waveland, here.
Why it's amazing: Because Waveland is amazing. Last year, this little Gulf town west of Bay St. Louis entered a national competition to win itself an all-expense-paid Fourth of July bash, complete with BBQ, entertainment, and fireworks, worth $50,000. Resident Donna Estopinal, co-owner of Roger's Sports Bar and Grill, wrote the prize-winning essay about how Waveland has had to pull itself back from the destruction of Hurricane Katrina. Talk about all-American spirit.
Long Beach, California
Why it's amazing: Hundreds of hundreds of kids on bikes, done up in patriotic style. The Great American 4th of July Kids Bike Parade is an extravaganza of pint-sized red, white, and blue. Long Beach also is home to an all-American-themed, huge party on the historic Queen Mary ocean liner. And that's not all: There's also a patriotic speech and costume contest.
Catalina Island, California
Read more about Catalina's Fourth of July, here.
Why it's amazing: Three words: Golf cart parade. Add to that, the enduringly old-fashioned vibe on this beautiful island off the Southern California coast. (See why we love Catalina Island, here.) The USC Marching Band lights up the Casino later on in the day, and the fireworks are over Avalon Bay, which is one of the prettiest spots on the entire West Coast.