10 unusual Independence Day celebrations

Independence Day is one of the biggest celebrations of the year in the USA. Often the 4th of July is celebrated with parades and parties on streets decorated in the star-spangled banner, followed by a massive fireworks display to see out the day. But in some places they do things differently - here’s our pick of alternative Independence Day celebrations. 


Rodeos in Sacramento, California

For the last 60 years, the community of Folsom in the Sacramento region, has celebrated Independence Day with a festival of rodeo riding with the Folsom Pro Rodeo. From 30 June, locals enjoy a full cowboy experience with non-stop rodeos, bull jumping and horseback barrel racing, followed by nightly fireworks, an American flag arriving by skydiver and much more. 

Boat parades off Newport Beach, California 

Usually a town’s Independence Day parade takes place on its main street. But in Newport Beach, on the Southern California coast, they celebrate with a themed bike and a series of spectacular boat parades - including the infamous Old Glory and Mariners Independence Parades - where local sailing enthusiasts decorate their boats with stars and stripes. 

Celebrate on the slopes, Mammoth Lakes, California

How about celebrating July 4th on skis? The resort of Mammoth Lakes in California has extended its ski season to August, making it one of the longest ski seasons in the world - it’s so beloved of skiers and boarders that pro-snowboarder Shaun White even owns a mountain there. Here, Independence Day is celebrated with a series of fun on-mountain activities, including a massive community breakfast, a colourful parade and a performance from a 40-piece orchestra.

Dog jogging fun in Bellevue, Washington

On the other side of Lake Washington from Seattle is the city of Bellevue, which hosts an annual ‘Four on the 4th Dog Jog & Walk’ every Independence Day. Dog-owners are invited to bring their canine pets to a non-competitive 4k jog and walk in downtown Bellevue. The post-race ‘After Paw-ty’ in Ashwood Park includes a pet costume contest, photo booth and street food stalls. All participants also receive a free race t-shirt and a goody bag of treats for both human and pup.

Independence Day 10K train run, Breckenridge, Colorado

Triathletes and sports enthusiasts might want to join the 4th of July celebrations in Breckenridge, Colorado – the day starts at 7am with a 10k trail run with some of the best views in the area, followed by the Firecracker 50, a 50-minute mountain bike race through back country trails. Afterwards, athletes join the crowds for the main street parade with live marching bands, family-fun zone and an arts festival.

Go old-fashioned in San Diego, California

They like to step back in time for Independence Day in the Historic Old Town neighbourhood of San Diego. As well as a parade, there are wagon rides, retro games and crafts and fun competitions including a pie eating contest, cherry pit spitting or the egg toss, for a handmade ribbon prize. People are encouraged to wear period costume. 

Hot dog races in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Celebrating the lead up to Independence Day, Kennywood Amusement Park – the century-old ‘roller coaster capital of the world’ in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – will host five days of family-friendly events from 30 June. Activities include the annual Silver Star Meats Hot Dog Eating Contest, as well as the always-popular Wiener 100 dachshund races, where 28 dachshunds and their owners take part in a mad dash to the finish line.

Pancakes and pooch parades in Avila Beach, California

Dogs are dressed in stars and stripes for the Independence Day celebrations in Avila Beach, in San Luis Obispo County, California. The event starts with a relaxed and hearty breakfast of pancakes, sausages and bacon on the beach, between 8-11am, to gear them up for the main event. From 11am, the patriotic pooch parade and costume contest takes place along the promenade, where registered dogs will sport their finest Independence Day outfits. 


The biggest parade west of the Mississippi, Huntington Beach

The Huntington Beach Fourth of July Parade is the longest march of its kind west of the Mississippi and for its 114thbirthday this year, this Californian town expects crowds of more than 500,000 to attend. Surf City’s parade promises floats, automobiles and performers making their way up Main Street. 


Lights on the Lake,  South Lake Tahoe

If you had to pick one Independence Day fireworks display, it should to be the annual extravaganza at South Lake Tahoe. The South Shore celebrates Independence Day by with a spectacular 25-minute music and lights display, matching American classics and today’s hits to perfectly timed pyrotechnics.

Bodega Bay 4th July Maritime Celebration, Sonoma County

For seaborne celebrations, head to the Northern California coast for a maritime celebration in Bodega Bay. Instead of fireworks, the community hosts a range of waterbound events including a Bodega Bay Kayak Freedom Paddle, tide pool walks, big kite display on Doran Beach, artists painting the harbour, Independence Day parties and the Maritime Celebration Dance. Bodega Bay is worth a visit in itself for its rugged beauty. It’s home to miles of sandy coves, rocky bluffs and great whale watching from the majestic Bodega Head Headlands, just a 90-minute drive north of San Francisco on Highway 1. 

Posted on: 30/06/2019

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