What's Worth It
In less than two weeks, every corner of the USA will be buzzing with flags, fireworks, and reds whites and blues in the festival of freedom that is America’s birthday. As we know, the Fourth of July only comes once a year, so choose your destination and activities wisely with the help of our historically-inspired guide – and wrap up the summer’s biggest holiday by raising your glass to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness with the ones you love beneath a sky sparkling with fireworks.
The Birthplace of Independence
The site of America’s First and Second Continental Congress, birthplace of the Declaration of Independence, and home to the iconic Liberty Bell which summoned citizens for its very first reading – if any city celebrates Independence Day right, it’s Philly. Kick off the federal holiday with a reading of the Declaration of Independence at Independence Hall, then claim your spot among 6,000 others along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway for a musical, whimsical, patriotic parade running until just after noon. Head to the Germantown Concord School House and Upper Burying Ground for the annual bellringing, then make the rounds between Valley Forge National Historical Park, Franklin Square, Fonthill Castle, and surrounds for a colorful day jam-packed with festivities. Be sure to stick around after the sun goes down to enjoy the city’s dazzling fireworks over the Philadelphia Museum of Art with prime viewing from the baseball fields at 22nd and Benjamin Franklin Parkway, best skyline and Schuylkill River views from Boathouse Row on Martin Luther King Jr Drive, or from the comfort of our recommended property below.
Consider a stay at Loews Philadelphia, America’s first internationally designed nouvelle skyscraper and the city’s tallest hotel to date. Spacious rooms and suites are composed of simplistic black-and-whites with pops of primary colors, and fitness center outfitted with a state-of-the-art gym and heated lap pool. The National Historic Landmark, originally a bank, opened its doors in 1932, inspiring the name for its in-house fine dining restaurant, Bank & Bourbon, which serves up refashioned American fare and barrel-aged whiskey in a warm, rustic setting.And what’s more, book your accommodation or simply a dinner reservation here to enjoy epic skyline firework views from the rooftop.
Historical highlights include: UNESCO World Heritage Site Independence Hall, birthplace of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution; The Liberty Bell, rung to summon citizen to the first public reading of the Declaration ofIndependence in 1776 and later the symbol of civil rights activism; George Washington’s headquarters tent and other precious memorabilia at the Museum of the American Revolution; the Betsy Ross House where she resided while sewing the original American Flag; and the Christ Church Burial Ground to place a penny on Benjamin Franklin’s grave, as per tradition, and pay homage to his fellow signers where they too came to rest.
Other activities include: exploring idyllic Elfreth’s Alley, a colorful colonial street frozen in time; the Philadelphia Museum of Art, after-hours Fridays consisting of live music; a stroll down Spruce Street Harbor Park along the Delaware River waterfront, recently revitalized with attractions and parks, and hosting great views of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge connecting Philly and New Jersey; Robert Indiana’s famous “LOVE” sculpture on John F. Kennedy Plaza, otherwise known as “LOVE Park” and its Spanish counterpart, “AMOR” in neighbouring Sister Cities Park just a short walk away; tasting your way through the Reading Terminal Market, America’s oldest farmer’s market and contemporary foodie paradise; and Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, a permanent, non-profit, folk art installation labyrinth spanning three city lots from South Street, created from repurposed materials by mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar over the course of fourteen years.
Flavorful hotspots include: Philly Style Bagels for just that, boiled in their original Yards IPA mixture – and yes you can have one for breakfast; Dalessandro’s, Joe’s Steaks and Soda Shop, and Steve’s Prince of Steaks for a mouthwatering, classic Philly Cheesesteak done right; City Tavern on 138 South and 2nd for colonial-era-inspired American cuisine and Yards Brewing’s “Ales of the Revolution” signature line; Franklin Fountain to satisfy your sweet tooth in an old-timey ice cream parlor; and Tavern On Camac for a sing-along happy hour.
The Heart of Revolutionary History
At the heart of America’s revolutionary history sits New England’s largest city – and site of the Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere’s famous midnight ride, and the Battle of Bunker Hill – hosting America’s biggest, boldest, and brightest Fourth of July celebration. Now in its 38th year, the Boston Harbor fest attracts over 3 million visitors from around the globe to explore and celebrate all the revolutionary, colonial, and maritime heritage the city has to offer. Beginning on July 1st and stretching into the night of the 7th, America’s largest Fourth of July Celebration hosts over 200 events, spanning from Historic Downtown to Faneuil Hall, to the Charlestown Navy Yard and Long Wharf. Downtown Crossing turns into a site for local art displays and musical performances on the 2nd, accompanied by the Chowderfest from noon until 2pm where participants taste and vote for their favorite Boston Bowl. The water parade of festively lit boats, followed by fireworks, commences at 8:30pm along the Inner Harbor and Seaport, best viewed from the Downtown Waterfront, Seaport, East Boston shore, or aboard a harbor cruise. Other activities include the USS Constitution’s annual turn-around cruise and cannon fire, Revolutionary King’s Chapel Talk on 58 Tremont Street, a Redcoats’ Changing of the Guard Ceremony at Downtown Crossing, and other colonial-era reenactments and historic sightseeing tours. The 4th itself kicks off with the annual Flag Raising Ceremony at City Hall Plaza, a reading of the Declaration of Independence at the Old State House, and a massive parade stretching from one side of town to the other. After sunset head to the Esplanade for the legendary Boston Pops Concert, headlined this year by Queen Latifah herself, and rounded out with the dazzling Pops Fireworks Spectacular over the Charles River.
Consider a stay at The Liberty Boston for refined taste, effortless personality, and an in-room view of the fireworks in case you got your fill of public squares during the day. Recently renovated and centrally located, this upscale hotel was originally the Charles Street Jail built in 1851 and remains as rooted in history as it is contemporary in style – a true feat for any residency. Outfitted with a grand ballroom, three of Boston’s loveliest restaurants, and a hopping nightlife, designers were able to preserve the building’s original construct while refocusing the interior to elude a warm, natural vibe, redefining the standard for New England luxury and offering top-notch service to boot.
Historical highlights include: visiting the Paul Revere House turned-museum, the statue of Benjamin Franklin, and site of the Boston Massacre, all of which can be seen along the 2.5-mile Boston Freedom Trail; museums including the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum, Bunker Hill Museum, and Old South Meeting House; the USS Constitution ironside ship, one of the US Navy’s six original frigates, and victor of all 40 battles it participated in – and be sure not to miss her annual turn-around cruise and cannon fire; Granary Burial Ground where many influential historical figures now rest; and of course, the Old North Church where Paul Revere began his famous midnight ride.
Other activities include: perusing Faneuil Hall’s indoor marketplace and it’s little brother, Quincy Market, for a plethora of culinary options; Boston Brewery Tours for tasting classic bean-town pilsners and stouts; the New England Aquarium, a global leader in marine exploration and conservation and home to an Indo-Pacific Coral Reef and Shark and Ray Touch Tank; touring or catching a game at iconic Fenway Park; meandering the narrow brick sidewalks of historic Beacon Hill; ascending the Skywalk Observatory for Boston’s highest vantage point and 360 degree views; enjoying the sunshine at the Arnold Arboretum or public gardens; and the Harvard Museum of Natural History, Museum of African American History, and Museum of Fine Arts, just to name a few.
Flavorful hotspots include: Select Oyster Bar for a sexy, stand-out seafood menu on the North End; making selections from Faneuil Hall or Quincy Market; Legal Sea Foods for a top-of-the-line New England chowder (in case you didn’t quite get your fill at Chowderfest); Trident Booksellers and Café for a trendy atmosphere, refreshing beverages, and sweet treats; bustling Eastern Standard for thirst-quenching cocktails in a mod setting; and for dessert, Captain Jackson’s Historic Chocolate Shop to learn about and taste colonial-era-style chocolate courtesy of the costumed staff.
The Capital We Know and Love
Appointed as America’s capital city less than two decades after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and named in honor of General George Washington himself in 1790, Washington, D.C. is the cornerstone of American history – and the capital we’ve loved ever since. Spend this year’s holiday in the country’s capital, opened by the National Independence Day Parade along Constitution Avenue, followed by A Capitol Fourth Concert on the West Lawn, and concluded with fireworks against the iconic D.C. skyline (enjoyed from a rowboat on the Potomac River) or glimmering off the Reflecting Pool (from the steps of the Lincoln or Jefferson Memorial) just after nightfall. Catch the annual Washington Nationals Independence Day game at Nationals Park, explore The Wharf and other waterfront venues for live music and events, or travel 30 minutes outside the city to George Washington’s Mount Vernon for a day of military re-enactments, a wreath-laying ceremony, daytime fireworks, and the National Concert Band’s “Red, White, and Blue” performances. And if there’s time, take this opportunity to delve into the city’s multitude of priceless monuments, memorials, and museums.
Consider a stay at The Hay-Adams, situated on Lafayette Square in downtown D.C., the quintessential center of the United States of America and as close to the White House as one can get. In warm common areas dressed in deep oranges and rich mahogany, and spacious guest rooms of crisp white linens, colonial-era accents, and lulling earth tones, become well acquainted with the capital’s heritage from the inside out –where elegance is unrivaled and comfort transcendent. Explore the best of central D.C. right outside your doorstep, and later enjoy private, unparalleled views of the city’s glorious firework display directly from your bedroom window.
Historical highlights include: the White House, home to every U.S. president since John Adams in 1800; the upper level of the National Archives Museum which houses the original Declaration of Independence, Constitution of the United States, and Bill of Rights; the Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King Jr., Albert Einstein, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt memorials, among others; the Washington Monument on the National Mall, directly across from the Lincoln Memorial opposite the Reflecting Pool; memorials in honor of American war veterans from the Korean War, Vietnam War, U.S. Marine Corps, and National World War II; and so much more.
Other activities include: the U.S. Capitol at the east end of The Mall on Capitol Hill, Supreme Court, Senate and House Office Buildings, and the Pentagon; the original Smithsonian comprised of nineteen galleries, blossoming gardens, one zoo, and multiple museums including the Air and Space Museum, Natural History Museum, and Smithsonian Castle; browsing the Library of Congress and its 115+ million books; the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and Washington National Cathedral; and exploring the city’s many colonial-style neighborhoods such as Georgetown, Logan Circe, and Alexandria.
Flavorful hotspots include: Founding Farmers farm-to-table American breakfast and comfort-food; Maketto for brunch essentials; Ambar Capitol Hill for top-notch Balkan cuisine– but be sure to book in advance; Laporta’s Restaurant and intimate Jazz lounge for inventive and hardy multi-regional dishes; Pitango and Dolci Gelati to test out D.C.’s happening gelato scene, or Dairy Godmother’s infamous custard shop; and keep in mind, D.C. is known to take the cake for its stellar rooftop scene so be sure to check out as many as your itinerary allows – including Colada Shop in Logan Circle for colorful Cuban rooftop vibes, cocktails, empanadas, and Caribbean happy-hour Thursdays!
The Spirit of It All
New York, New York
Site of the Revolutionary War-era Battle of Long Island and Saratoga, recapture of Fort Ticonderoga, birthplace of the Stamp Act Congress, and home to The Sons of Liberty, the influence and gravity of America’s one and only New York stretches far beyond the brilliant, billboard-lined Broadway we know and love today and into the country’s very roots – embodying the spirit of it all. If any city is overflowing with color, activity, and energy on any given day of the year, it’s definitely New York City – so throw in a celebration of independence and you’re in for a festival of freedom that’s next level. Spread out across the five boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island, all buzzing with their own personality, the Fourth of July only comes once a year so you’ll really have to prioritize what you want to see and do and where. Among the hustle and bustle of red white and blue, the most popular events of the day include Nathans Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island, Staten Island’s 107th Travis Parade, the Freedom Fest on Pier 15 in Tribeca, and enjoying Lady Liberty’s company on a cruise around New York Harbor. If your perfect summer holiday includes laying a blanket on the grass, grilling up some choice cuts, and socializing with loved ones beneath a shady tree, arrive early at Central Park or Astoria Park to claim that idyllic spot; or head to bustling Coney Island, trendy Rockaway Beach, or reclusive Mantauk for stretches of boardwalk, sand, and sea. But regardless of where the summer sun takes you, capping off the holiday with its ultimate headliner is an absolute must: Macy’s Fourth of July Firework Spectacular, and its dazzling blast of over 50,000 shells launched from barges around the Brooklyn Bridge.
Consider a stay at the Conrad New York, a mod-chic property in the center of Battery Park only a moments walk from trendy TriBeCa, fashionable SoHo, and NYC icons including the Statue of Liberty. The lobby, composed of cool colors and laid back design, and the bedroom suites, exuding warmth from thoughtful layouts and contemporary touches, attract vacationers as well as executives, travelers and locals alike.Amenities include the Atrio Restaurant, Loopy Doopy Rooftop Bar, 24-hour fitness center, and, perhaps the most coveted of any capital city hotel, stunning in-room views of the New York skyline across the Hudson River and its annual firework spectacular.
Historical highlights include: Fraunces Tavern, a 1719 mansion and vital prewar meeting place for the Sons of Liberty, also where General George Washington held a victory feast after the British fled New York in 1783; City Hall Park where he read the Declaration of Independence to the troops; Federal Hall where the first American Congress was held, the Bill of Rights adopted, federal government established, and President George Washington inaugurated on its very steps; Trinity Church, the resting place of Alexander Hamilton and many other unknown martyrs; St. Paul’s Chapel, the only remaining church from the era; and Battery Park, where the first Union flag was raised after the final British troops departed.
Other activities include: discovering the “Center of the Universe” in unparalleled Times Square; exploring the bustling Rockefeller Center and surrounding icons such as Top of the Rock and Radio City Music Hall; continuing downtown to 5th Avenue, one of the most famous shopping districts in the world; museum-hopping from The Met to the MoMA, to the Smithsonian and Guggenheim; and visiting the dozens of other starred NYC icons and districts such as the Statue of Liberty, Ellis and GovernorsIsland, Central Park, the Empire State Building, the 9/11 Memorial and Ground Zero, the Charging Bull in the Financial District, Grand Central Station, the Flatiron Building, Washington Square Arch, Yankee Stadium, the Chrysler Building, and Vessel at Hudson Yards – just to name a few; and do check out “pop-up” schedules online to catch a few limited-time art installations exclusive to the city that never sleeps.
Flavorful hotspots include: Ellen’s Stardust Diner on Broadway, 50’s themed “home of the singing waitstaff” with an eclectic menu of rainbow bagels with sprinkle cream cheese and the Homer Simpson Burger topped with bacon and eggs; Boqueria Restaurant at West 260 and 40th for Spanish wine and a delectable seafood paella; Robert’s in the Bronx for Italian-American specials in a romantic, old-school space; Cote Korean Steakhouse where classic dry-aged cuts meet upscale New York flair, a reservation and the Butcher’s Feast come highly recommended; Magnolia Bakery in Midtown for the best banana pudding you’ll ever have – this really is a must; Sugar Freak in Astoria for Louisiana fare and a killer plate of white chicken and fluffy waffles; and after dark, enter the Alley Cat beneath the Beekman Hotel, a low-lit venue offering smooth bourbons and even smoother jazz – or the open rooftop of the PUBLIC Hotel on the Lower East Side, for panoramic New York views and a memorable watermelon sangria or two.