By Randy Yagi
With a full day of activities in store, one of the best ways to begin summer's biggest holiday is to attend a Fourth of July parade. First held in America shortly after the end of the Revolutionary War, July 4th parades now come in all shapes and sizes, from the world's smallest to the nation's longest and everything in between. Here is a preview of five of America's very best July 4th parades.
Established in 1785, the Fourth of July Celebration in Bristol, Rhode Island is America's oldest continuous Independence Day celebration. Despite being held in a small city, the parade will be a lively and festive occasion with a huge throng of spectators, local dignitaries, marching bands and floats vying for awards like Most Patriotic and Most Original. Because Bristol's annual celebration began June 20 with the kickoff of the Concert Series and Bristolwood Ball on June 24, lodging may be scarce locally, although additional lodging may be found at larger hotels in Providence, like Hotel Providence, Hilton Providence and the Dean Hotel.
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Filled with fancy cars, emergency service vehicles and plenty of American flags, this small parade in South Lake Tahoe doesn't dazzle spectators like larger parades. But the added bonuses are the fireworks shows at night, including one of the best in the country - Lights on the Lake. Lights on the Lake can be viewed from multiple vantage points on the South Shore, like public beaches, Lake Tahoe Resort and onboard tour boats. Visitors staying on the North Shore can enjoy the fireworks shows at Kings Beach and Incline Village, with popular viewing spots like the North Tahoe Events Center and the new Lake Club at the AAA Five-Diamond Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe.
The City of Brotherly Love will once again be hosting the largest free July 4th celebration in the country. Held from June 29 to July 4, Wawa Welcome America will feature several marquee events, like the Independence Day Parade, Party on the Parkway and Wawa Welcome America Concert, with headliners Mary J Blige, Philadelphia's own Boyz II Men, the Philly POPS and the Grand Finale Fireworks over the famed Philadelphia Museum of Art. Suggested last minute hotel reservations from popular travel apps like HotelTonight include Loews Philadelphia Hotel, Rittenhouse Hotel and the Logan.
Held since 1878, America's Birthday Parade opens the gigantic four-day celebration, Fair St. Louis. One of the nation's largest July 4th celebrations with an estimated 250,000 visitors, Fair St. Louis will offer daily, family-friendly attractions like a kid's zone and dog shows, along with an impressive collection of local food vendors and regional artists at the Fairway. The premier draws are the scheduled performances of world-class entertainers like AKON, 3 Doors Down and Jake Owen. Many of the best hotels in St. Louis can be found along the Mississippi River near the iconic Gateway Arch, like Millennium Hotel St. Louis and Drury Plaza Hotel St. Louis at the Arch.
What better way to celebrate the Fourth of July than in the nation's capital? The National Independence Day Parade follows a route along Constitution Avenue while sweeping past some of America's most treasured landmarks, like the Washington Monument and the Smithsonian Museums. An enormous crowd will be on hand to enjoy marching bands, colorful parade balloons and patriotic street performers. Afterwards visitors can visit admission free attractions like the American History Museum and the National Archives, home of the original Declaration of Independence, with the evening capped by the massive fireworks show on the National Mall. Among suggested places to stay in D.C. are Kimpton Hotel Monaco and the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill.
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