Unique ways to celebrate the 4th of July

By Jackie Dreyer

Festivals, fireworks, a surplus in hot dog sales, and a whole lot of red, white, and blue everywhere are just a few of the tried and true elements that make up the Fourth of July. There is something inexplicably lovely about having set traditions, but we think there's something equally as exciting about mixing it up and thinking outside of the box to create some new ones.

That's why we've compiled a list of unique ways for you to celebrate the Fourth of July, with a few fun takes on old favorites.

Outdoors

Have a beach bonfire

You'll have to check with your local law enforcement first for your nearest beach's regulations and permit requirements, but we can't think of a more magical setting for a potluck-style gathering to celebrate the Fourth of July. Grab some towels, a couple of blankets, pack up some coolers with food and drinks, and you're ready to go. (If you want to get extra festive, you can even pack a few tiny flags to stick in the sand.) With any luck, you'll still be able to catch the nearest fireworks off in the distance, too!

Go on a woodland hike

What better way to celebrate the U.S. than by getting outside to explore and appreciate the country's natural beauty? Throw on some activewear and sneakers, and grab your partner or some pals to hit the trails with. If you're not sure where to head to, helpful websites, such as AllTrails, let you easily enter in your city name or a nearby park so you can plan your hike accordingly.

Set up a picnic in the park

You can stay close to home while still having a brand new Fourth of July experience with your nearest and dearest—in the form of a picnic in the park! Eliminating any potential nerves about hosting a get together at home, the park is the perfect place to gather a group of any size for to make merry. Doublecheck with your city's Parks and Recreation Department or the National Park Service in case you need to reserve the park's picnic tables or want to claim the pavilion—and make sure to pack some festive table clothes or some streamers to decorate around wherever you settle down to set the mood.

Plan your own backyard festival

Photo from Reader's Digest.

For those who love to host, go above the traditional barbecue, skip the crowds at the city-run festivities, and put on a full-blown festival in your backyard. With so many tasty, or just plain adorable, recipes at a mere Google search away, there will be plenty of Instagram-worthy moments for you and your guests to capture. A few party snacks that have caught are eye are these Grilled Corn and Ranch Pizzas, simple Red White and Blue Berry Cheese Bites, and, for dessert, these Mini Star Berry Pies or Patriotic Oreo Pops.

Bonus recipe: Fourth of July brunch, anyone? Make these Red, White, and Blue Donuts!

Indoors

Plan an American movie marathon

Photo from The Lamron.

Celebrating doesn't have to mean drinking nor binging on fried food (although, also fine if it does, we don't judge here)—it can also mean the perfectly planned movie night, complete with a solid line-up of American films and all of your favorite movie snacks within reach.

Check out some of our top picks below:

  • "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"
  • "Saving Private Ryan"
  • "Miracle"
  • "Independence Day"
  • "The Patriot"
  • "Apollo 13"
  • "Rocky"
  • "Captain America"

Make a patriotic playlist

Whether you end up blasting your carefully curated playlist in the backyard later, you'll probably at least be indoors when you create it, and we've got a few American-themed lists to serve as inspiration. The inevitable union of country music and patriotism makes this playlist an easy choice, while this 4th of July playlist takes a more classic approach, with everything from John Mellencamp and Creedence Clearwater Revival to Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry.

Play games

True American cheat sheet, as seen on Pinterest.

You can stick to the game cabinet staples: Monopoly, Yahtzee, Scrabble, Cards Against Humanity...the list goes on. Or you can keep your (21-and-up) friends on their toes this year with a rousing rendition of True American, the drinking game made popular on the TV show New Girl starring Zooey Deschanel. Make sure you have a fair amount of space, enough sofas or objects to stand on (the floor is lava!), and a lot of energy and historical facts stored up before you start!

Host a "Hamilton" sing-along

Photo from Playbill.

We don't know about everyone else, but we're still not over "Hamilton." It doesn't matter whether you've seen the musical in person yet or not; the soundtrack is catchy, infectious, and can fully stand on its own. Host your very own "Hamilton" sing-along in your living room or out on the lawn—wherever you feel most comfortable displaying your talents—and check out the nearest costume store provide some 18th century-style wigs to help get your friends and family into character.


Want to plan a weekend trip for the Fourth of July instead? Let us show you which accommodations are available—click here!