The 4th of July falls on a Friday this year, so it's the perfect excuse to turn the holiday into an extended weekend vacay! We've honed in on some cities that are fun to visit at just about any time of year, but if your trip falls over the long weekend, it'll be amped up by fireworks, festivals, and fabulous food as these destinations get in gear to celebrate the red, white, and blue. These six cities pull out all the stops and bring you great entertainment, including free concerts by artists that would normally cost a pretty penny to see in your local arena -- but in the spirit of patriotism and community, they're free! Round up your crew because it's time for a road trip.
Atlanta Lights Up in the Laser Show Spectacular
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Photo Credit: Stone Mountain Park
There are 4th of July celebrations going on all over Atlanta next weekend, including festivities at Lenox Square Mall and a fireworks display at Centennial Olympic Park. However, Stone Mountain Park offers the ultimate display with a combination laser and fireworks show. Make sure you get to the park super early and enjoy a day with attractions such as Sky Hike and the 3-D/4-D show “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.”
Where to Stay: Loews Atlanta Hotel
The 414-room Loews Atlanta brings style and luxury to Midtown. Rooms are bright with floor-to-ceiling windows, and spacious bathrooms have soaking tubs and TVs. Upscale amenities include a modern spa and fitness center, along with a swanky cocktail bar in the lobby. Convenient dining options range from an innovative restaurant to a gourmet snack bar, but many restaurants and bars are in walking distance as well. Wi-Fi is available for a fee and parking is pricey, although free transportation is on offer within a three-mile radius in a stylish Mercedes GL450.
Philadelphia Boasts Its Super-Rich History
Photo Credit: Visit Philadelphia
Philadelphia is The Birthplace of America, home of The Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. As you would expect, this city takes its 4th of July celebrations very seriously. Every year people come out to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway for a star-studded concert with some of the hottest acts in music. This year the line up includes Nicki Minaj, Jennifer Hudson, and Ariana Grande. A fireworks spectacular over the Art Museum caps off the evening festivities.
Where to Stay: The Rittenhouse
This elegant, 98-room luxury property right on Rittenhouse Square Park has the largest rooms in the city — they start at 450 square feet — and draws both well-heeled families and business travelers. The first-class service, impressive original artwork (including drawings by Mary Cassatt, whose father’s house once stood on the site), and kid-friendly amenities are all pluses, but the room decor — though stately — is a little dated.
Denver Celebrates at Civic Park
Photo Credit: Visit Denver
Denver kicks things off early with the Independence Eve celebration in Civic Park. Bring your own picnic basket and camp out for the lights show at the Denver City and County Building. The rest of the weekend is just as special with the days-long Cherry Creek Arts Festival, and a performance by the Colorado Symphony in Fiddler’s Green Amphitheater, complete with a grand fireworks finale on evening of the Fourth of July.
Where to Stay: The Warwick Denver Hotel
The Warwick Denver’s 219 rooms are large and bright, with flat-screen TVs and balconies. The hotel is located on the southwestern outskirts of downtown, on a grassy, tree-lined street that’s still just within walking distance of major attractions. It offers a rooftop pool (a Denver rarity), but unlike the Hotel Monaco and Hyatt Regency, it lacks a spa.
Party on in Vegas
Photo Credit: NextBackground
When it comes to letting the good times roll, Las Vegas does not disappoint, especially on the 4th of July. There’s no shortage of entertainment. See the Cirque de Soleil show at the Zumanity Theatre or head to the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino for Rehab, the biggest pool party in Sin City. You also have your choice of fireworks displays at hotels like the Stratosphere and Mandalay Bay.
Where to Stay: Venetian Resort Hotel Casino
It may have an Italian theme, but the Venetian will also be an uber-festive and patriotic spot to stay for the holiday weekend. The 5,030-room hotel is an enormous and extravagant tribute to a place far from the desert, complete with gondola rides and a replica of Saint Mark’s Square. Compared to the other theme-driven Vegas properties, the Venetian distinguishes itself with enormous guest rooms, a world-class spa, and heaps of premier restaurants.
Fireworks on the Harbor in Baltimore
Photo Credit: Baltimore Inner Harbor
Watching fireworks on the waterfront is always breathtaking, and Baltimore celebrates the fourth with a grand display on Baltimore Inner Harbor. The show starts in the afternoon with Top 40s band Thunderball and the U.S. Naval Academy Band Electric Brigade. You can also see the fireworks in style with a 360 degree view of Baltimore at Picnic at the Top, hosted by Top of the World Observation Level.
Where to Stay: Hotel Monaco Baltimore
The 202-room Hotel Monaco is a stunning historic property in the business district neighborhood of Mount Vernon. Rooms have modern amenities, such as flat-screens and iPod docks, and funky decor that extends to common areas. All the features one would expect from four-pearl Kimpton property are here: a 24-hour fitness center, a stylish restaurant, a free evening wine and cheese hour in the lobby, a pet-friendly policy, and ample kid-friendly amenities.
Hollywood-Style Fireworks in Los Angeles
Photo Credit: Discover Los Angeles
From the beaches to the center of downtown, there is no shortage of ways to enjoy your fireworks in LA. AmericaFest at The Rose Bowl in Pasadena is one of the largest displays in Southern California, but there’s also a beachfront show at Redondo Beach and a seaside display at Marina del Rey. Grand Park in the LA Civic Center hosts a huge block party and there’s a traditional BBQ onboard The Queen Mary.
Where to Stay: The London West Hollywood
Just off the Sunset Strip, the London offers the highest levels of luxury and service at reasonable prices. With 200 beautifully appointed, 750-square-foot rooms, a rooftop pool, and fitness area with panoramic views, and a restaurant from star chef Gordon Ramsay, the hotel attracts a sophisticated set who expect service as great as the value.
To learn more about Lonni Delane, visit her on Google+.
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