Here’s where you’ll find maximum fun for your Fourth of July celebrations

Happy 242nd birthday, America. To get the party going, we’ve chosen a few events that sound particularly fun. They may not be the biggest or have the flashiest fireworks, but these are places with character — and filled with characters as well. Most activities are free for spectators, but be sure to check the event’s website for these and other details.

Hailey, Idaho

Hailey Days of the Old West is a six-day old-fashioned Independence Day bash that includes a pancake breakfast at the Grange Hall; two antiques markets; a 5K fun run; live music; a rodeo; a parade on Main Street with marching bands, lots of horses, decorated cars, Smokey Bear; and fireworks synchronized to music on the Fourth.


When: June 29-July 4

Cost, info: Free, except for rodeo, run, and breakfast. (208) 788-3484

Incline Village, Nev.

On the northeastern shore of Lake Tahoe, the 11th Red, White and Tahoe Blue Celebration offers during its five days more than 20 events such as rubber-duck races, pancake breakfasts, an American heroes parade, a basketball tournament, live bands and a community fair. Activities for kids include a bike parade and chalk drawing. The finale fireworks extravaganza with soundtrack was designed just for the village.

When: June 30-July 4

Cost, info: Some free, some fee

Cody, Wyo.

The 99th Cody Stampede and Fourth of July festivities include five days of rodeo events, a children’s parade, a craft fair, stampede parades, a 5K/10K walk-run, and several bands playing different styles of music each day. The celebration’s finale is fireworks at the stampede grounds on the Fourth.

When: July 1-4

Cost, info: Free, except for stampede and run. (800) 207-0744 or (307) 587-5155

Granby, Colo.

Granby, a town of 1,700 15 miles southwest of Rocky Mountain National Park, hosts four days of events with a “Back to the Beach” theme and different activities each day. Dress in 1950s beach togs or an Aloha shirt to watch the Westernaries youth precision horse drill team, a family bicycle parade downtown, live music, art and a pancake breakfast. On the Fourth, a parade down Main Street will be followed by the Fourth Fest, and a rodeo with fireworks follows.

When: July 3, 4 6, and 7

Cost, info: Free except for rodeo and pancake breakfast. (970) 887-2311

Portland, Ore.

Get down with American music at the four-day Waterfront Blues Festival, billed as the “largest celebration of blues, soul, funk, and rhythm and blues west of the Mississippi.” Hear tunes from three stages, listen to the Cascade Blues competition, learn swing and Zydeco/Cajun dance. On the Fourth, watch a 25-minute fireworks show.

When: July 4-7

Cost, info: From $40 for a four-day festival pass, $15 for fireworks show only. (800) 820-9884 or (503) 432-9477


Seafair Summer Fourth at Gas Works Park will have live entertainment, exhibit booths and food vendors, but the main focus is the big fireworks extravaganza. The theme of the musical sound track matched to the fireworks over Lake Union is togetherness, inclusion, celebration and unity.

When: July 4

Cost, info: Free to $60. (206) 728-0123

Aspen, Colo.

Aspen’s Old-Fashioned Fourth of July includes picnics, ragtime music, a community street dance, concerts, a carnival, a one-mile family-and-canine run/walk and a parade and more. No fireworks this year because of fire danger.

When: July 4

Cost, info: Most free, some fee, (877) 702-7736 or (970) 925-1940

South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

Lights on the Lake has been called one of the country’s best fireworks displays. For a different view, watch the pyrotechnics from a boat cruise. Radio stations KRLT-FM (93.9) and KOWL-AM (1490) will broadcast patriotic music synchronized with the fireworks show.

When: July 4.

Cost, info: Free onshore, but fees for boat cruises. (530) 544-5050, Ext. 350

Half Moon Bay, Calif.

The 48th Ol’ Fashioned 4th of July Parade features marching bands, fanciful floats, dance groups, theater troupes, decorated classic cars and a color guard from the American Legion. Don’t miss Pooches on Parade, when mutts and their owners will be dressed in red, white and blue. No fireworks.

When: July 4.

Cost, info: Free. (650) 726-8380

Atwater, Calif.

The 4th of July celebration in this town halfway between Fresno and Sacramento salutes first responders. Festivities include an early morning marathon, a tug of war competition, a parade, bounce houses for kids, folk singers and, in the evening, a blues, rock ’n’ roll, and rhythm ’n’ blues concert and fireworks show.

When: July 4.

Cost, info: Free. (209) 358-2260

Bigfork, Mont.

For a celebration full of Americana, catch Bigfork’s Western Stars and Stripes parade with floats, dancers, 4-H members, Shriners in miniature cars, and riders on horseback on a three-block-long downtown. There won’t be fireworks, but, if fire danger is low, you could see Lakeside’s fireworks in the distance over Flathead Lake. The official Bigfork Summer Rodeo will be July 6 and 7.

When: July 4.

Cost, info: Parade is free; rodeo $5-$35 (406) 837-5888


The Freedom Over Texas Festival at Eleanor Tinsley and Sam Houston parks presents an evening of family activities and live Tex-Mex, Latin rockabilly, and country tunes followed by fireworks.

When: July 4

Cost, info: $10 (children 5 and younger free with paid adult); (832) 393-0863