6 Star-Spangled Spots to Spend the 4th of July


The Fourth of July is an American holiday where we celebrate life, patriotism, and our independence. Many people like to travel around the United States for Independence Day to see magnificent displays of fireworks, have cookouts with family, soak up the sun on the beach and more. No plans yet? Afraid of experiencing FOMO? Not to worry! Here are some of the most poppin’ places you can visit to celebrate the good ol’ USA on its 243rd birthday at destinations where we’ve recently filmed for “Travels with Darley.”

Lights on the Lake: Fireworks in South Tahoe

A day filled with fun is what you get when visiting South Lake Tahoe for the 4th of July. The day’s festivities begin at 10 a.m. with the annual Lake Tahoe 4th of July parade. Following the parade, an all-new Food Truck Park with a wide variety of food and drinks will be held at Bijou Park from 11:00-1:00p.m. Later in the evening, mosey on down to South Lake Tahoe for the renowned Lights on the Lake.

One of the most popular fireworks displays on the East coast, Lake Tahoe’s Lights on the Lake brings in people from far and wide to watch the show. Viewing the show can be enjoyed in several different ways, including (but not limited to) lounging at Lakeside Beach, climbing aboard the M.S. Dixie II or Tahoe Cruises’ luxury 80-foot motor yacht, the Safari Rose, or get a unique perspective of the show from a helicopter. Whichever way you do it, you’re guaranteed a great time in South Lake Tahoe. Getting out on the lake is spectacular, something we recently experienced by kayaking and filming it for the new fall season of “Travels with Darley” on PBS.

Kayaking on the clear waters of Lake Tahoe at Zeyphr Cover with Clearly Tahoe.

5-day 4th of July Celebration in New York’s Adirondacks

It’s not called the Best 4th in the North for nothing! Held in Ticonderoga, New York, where we recently traveled to film at the Star Trek Original Series Set Tour, Independence Day is celebrated with five days of nonstop entertainment. Starting Sunday, June 30th, the “50’s & 60’s Music”-themed celebration kicks off with a block party in downtown Ticonderoga from 8:00-11:00 p.m.

Enjoy the rides and food at Bicentennial Park on July 1stand 2nd, and an evening of music performed by Undertone and Willie Playmore Band. The fun at Bicentennial Park continues through the 3rd and 4th, but continues with the area firefighters coming together to compete in the “Fire Fighter Games,” the annual Montcalm Mile, and the Fourth of July Parade. The eventful week ends with a fantastic firework display by Santone World Famous Fireworks at 9:45 p.m. Go and join the fun in the beautiful Adirondacks!

Fireworks over Santa Fe on the 4th of July

Celebrate this 4th of July in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where we’ve just filmed a third episode of our series! A city and county filled with culture and tradition, Santa Fe offers a unique experience to visitors and locals alike. A variety of food trucks and vendors will be at the event, offering New Mexican food, African/Caribbean cuisine, traditional American foods such as hot dogs and hamburgers, shaved ice, and more.

Make your way to go see the live music performed by Dream Noise, Sol Fire, and Fun Adixx before the fireworks display at 9 p.m. Hosted by the Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe and funded by the City of Santa Fe, the event is completely free (including parking). The Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe will also be selling merchandise and tickets to the 95th annual Burning of Zozobra event on August 30th. This event is not one you want to miss, so head on down to Santa Fe for an unforgettable holiday!

July 4th Parade & BBQ in Solvang, California

Fireworks sparking up the sky in Solvang. Enjoy Independence Day in Solvang, California with a day full of festive fun! We loved eating our way through Solvang and trying this Danish inspired destination’s many sweet treats. The day begins at 10:00 a.m. with a free concert by the Santa Ynez Valley Wind Ensemble at Solvang Park, and is followed by the “We the People”-themed Independence Day Parade at 11:00 a.m. A BBQ sponsored by Solvang Rotary Club follows the parade, and features a free concert by the T-Bone Ramblers at Solvang Park from 11:00-1:00 p.m. Performed by Santa Ynez Valley Master Chorale, another concert follows the BBQ at Solvang Veterans Memorial Hall from 2:00-3:00 p.m. The 25th Annual Solvang Independence Day Festival begins at 2:00 p.m. and will feature food booths, wine & beer garden, kids’ activities, and live entertainment by local performers starts at 5:00 p.m. The celebratory day ends with the stellar Solvang Independence Day Fireworks Show from 9:00-9:30 p.m. A day like this is not worth missing—be sure to check it out this 4th of July.

Star Spangled Sparks in Reno, Nevada

Fireworks lighting up the sky in Reno. Star Spangled Sparks in Reno, Nevada is the area’s largest 4th of July party and fireworks display. The Independence Day festivities begin in Victorian Square at 4:00 p.m. with food and beverage vendors, arts & crafts booths, live music performed by The Garage Boys at 5:00 p.m., and fireworks to begin around 9:45 p.m. Victorian Square also serves as a public viewing space for the fireworks display, but the ticketed VIP viewing area is available for $55. The VIP viewing area not only offers great views but also a barbecue party from 7:00-10:00 p.m.

With a schedule this good, you should definitely take part in Star Spangled Sparks! If you’re feeling brave while in Reno, head over to the world’s highest artificial climbing wall and give yourself a challenge. We recently filmed this adventure for our new fall season and Darley completed the climb… but not without some really hard work!

We recently were able to enjoy spring skiing at Squaw Valley and film it for the new fall season of our PBS series. Squaw Valley is the ski resort where Olympian Jonny Moseley grew up skiing and he was gracious enough to take Darley out to learn freestyle skiing. Check it out in our upcoming PBS episode.

We heard about the epic Freedom Fest, a 5-day long event like no other from Moseley himself! While most 4th of July celebrations are spent in the heat of summer, Squaw Valley is different: there’s snow! Open summer skiing and snowboarding are available throughout Freedom Fest, and lift tickets are available for purchase. Live music will be performed by the Grateful Dead Revue from Freedom Fest’s opening day (Wednesday, July 3rd) through Saturday, July 6th. A village block party will be held every day throughout the festival at different locations, including 22 Bistro and The Auld Dubliner. Squaw Valley is set apart not only by its winter sports availability, but its fireworks display being held on Friday, July 5th, rather than July 4th, at 9:30 p.m. Break traditions and get sporty this Independence Day at Freedom Fest!

About the Author: Mavis Heasley is an incoming senior at the University of Mississippi, earning her B.A. in English and a minor in political science. She has a passion for writing, serving as a campus correspondent to her university’s chapter of Her Campus. Mavis also loves to travel and has been to several different countries, including China, Thailand, and Ireland. You can find some of her other work here.