Parades, barbecues, children waving flags, and fireworks bursting in air. The long July 4th weekend is tailor-made for a quintessential all-American summer getaway, as destinations around the country woo families with events that celebrate all that’s red, white, and blue. The options for fun are as varied as the colors in those fireworks: head to a city for big parades and a splash of culture, sprawl on a blanket under the starry sky, or experience a little bit of both. Here’s a sampling of some top packages for families this Independence Day weekend:
Where: Boston, Mass.
Why: Because Beantown throws one of the most artful Fourth of July parties in the country. The Boston Pops will be performing a rousingly patriotic concert on the banks of the Charles River (we dare your goosebumps to stay hidden), whose finale will be accompanied by a spectacular display of fireworks over Boston Harbor. Stay at the Omni Parker House, a Boston landmark that’s looking fabulous after a $30-million restoration. It’s got a killer location on the Freedom Trail and just steps from the gold-domed State House, the Public Garden, Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market, the Aquarium and more. The hotel’s Fourth of July Boston Pops Package starts at $249 a night and includes a breakfast buffet, a Boston Pops CD, and flags to wave.
Where: Warren, Vermont
Why: Because the Mad River Valley is the perfect place to celebrate independence Vermont-style. The Warren 4th of July festivities are touted as the country’s most unique and creative Independence Day celebration, with a parade that’s known for an especially eclectic mix of floats and personalities. While you’re in town, grab some picnic fare from the Warren Store, and pick up some fun and free-spirited souvenirs in the second-floor “More Store.” Hang your hat at the Sugar Lodge, a classic mountain chalet at the Sugarbush Ski Resort. The price is definitely right: For $289, the Warren 4th of July package buys three nights’ lodging in a standard room for two adults and two children, daily continental breakfast, and admission to the parade. At dusk, head up to Sugarbush Lincoln Peak for the best viewing of fireworks exploding over the Green Mountains.
Where: Lake Tahoe, Calif.
Why: Because colorful fireworks are even more spectacular against the stunning backdrop of Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada mountains. Active families love this resort, whose year-round Mountain Buddies children’s program offers a wide array of activities, from biking, swimming, and canyon nature hikes to tie dying, jewelry making and spin art. The night of the 4th, grab a blanket and prepare to be wowed as fireworks lift off over the lake’s North Shore. Ooooh. Ahh. Rates from $259 a night.
Where: Wintergreen, Va.
Why: Because this beautiful hideaway in the Blue Ridge Mountains packs a patriotic punch with live music, chairlift rides and fireworks shows that light up the mountain sky. There’s swimming, canoeing, a block party, campfires and did we mention the Family Triathlon? While kids are checking out The Treehouse, headquarters of the kids’ camp, Mom and Dad can play golf or go hiking. Afterward, you can all reconvene in your spacious condo, which is appointed with all the comforts of home. Rates for a 2-bedroom condo start at $305/night.
Where: Tucson, Ariz.
Why: Because this resort, set in the Santa Catalina Mountain range, promises pristine canyon views by day and fireworks by night to illuminate the wide-open desert sky. Mom and Dad can go horseback riding, swing a racket on one of the resort’s 31 tennis courts (lighted for evening play) or head to the equestrian center, while kids have tons of supervised fun at Camp Conquistador. They can cool off—over and over and over—cruising down the 143-foot Sliderock waterslide before things heat up with a Wii competition (“Can I, Mom? Pleeease?”). Two- and three-night packages are available for the 4th of July Extravaganza, with rates starting at $139 a night for a room with two queen beds or $169 for a junior suite.
Where: Mackinac Island, Mich.
Why: Because it’s fun to turn back the clock and celebrate our nation’s birthday at this elegant grande dame situated atop Mackinac Island (pronounced “Mack-i-naw”) in Michigan. You take a ferry to the island, then a horse-drawn carriage to the hotel, as cars are not allowed on the island. Settle into a rocking chair on the hotel’s famous 660-foot front porch, said to be the world’s longest. The resort’s “Old Fashioned Mackinac Fourth of July Celebration” package includes three nights’ accommodation, daily breakfast and dinner, complimentary afternoon and evening children’s programs, a cookout luncheon, ice cream social, fireworks, children’s carnival and even gratuities. The virtually all-inclusive rate is $1875 for three nights, which works out to $625 a night for a family of up to five. Extend your stay with days at either end for an extra $209 per family per night—a substantial discount off the resort’s regular rate.
Where: Washington, D.C.
Why: Because the nation’s capital pours on big-time fireworks and opportunities for history lessons at every turn. There are July 4th events planned all over the region, from military reenactments at nearby Mount Vernon to a giant parade along Constitution Avenue to a concert on the Capitol’s West Lawn and, of course, fireworks over the Washington Monument. Book a “Staying Power” package for three nights at a participating hotel and you’ll save 30 percent on your entire stay.
Where: Whitefield, N.H.
Why: Because this lovely landmark with over 100 years of history is a super place to celebrate Independence Day, and at a very reasonable price. Think columned veranda with dark green wicker chairs, overlooking an expanse of manicured green lawn and the White Mountains in the distance. On the 4th, the kids get a night all their own at the Mountaineering Kids’ Party with a buffet dinner, make-your-own-sundae table and marshmallow roasting at the Campfire Club. A Family Bluegrass barbecue on the 5th is capped off with a fireworks display. During the resort’s Independence Weekend Celebration, rates start at $189 a night.
Where: Seattle/Bellevue, Wash.
Why: Because when one of the biggest fireworks displays in the Emerald City lights up the sky above Lake Union (think houseboats of “Sleepless in Seattle” fame), there’s no better place to be than the Family Fourth celebration at Downtown Park, in the Bellevue neighborhood. The nearby Courtyard Seattle Bellevue/Downtown is offering a good-value package including accommodations, patriotic cupcakes delivered to your room, a goodie bag of snacks, a flashlight to take to the park, breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant, free parking and late check-out. Rates start at $159 a night.
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