The Tillery family has vacationed in Boulder, Colorado, every summer since 1998. Pat Tillery, a native of Poulsbo, WA, says all three generations love to "see the mountains, walk the trails, and stroll along Boulder Creek. It's idyllic."
They particularly love coming here for the 4th of July -- and they're not the only ones. T+L readers ranked Boulder as one of the top five places to celebrate the birth of our nation. As part of our America's Favorite Towns survey, readers evaluated hundreds of destinations, from Chatham, Massachusetts, to Homer, Arkansas, for qualities like quaint B&Bs, great wine bars, and attractive locals.
The high-ranking towns for July 4th tended to score well in founding-father-friendly categories like charming main streets, parades and feeling patriotic.
While most offer festivities like watermelon-eating contests, dog parades, or fireworks, other winners just exude enough star-spangled pomp to feel like a trip back in time. In Lambertville, New Jersey, or New Hope, Pennsylvania, you can walk the same streets where Washington's army marched, or eat pizza at the same corner where his troops once camped for the night.
The winning town of Flagstaff, Arizona, can't claim any direct ties to 1776, but, like Boulder, makes up for that with more than enough fanfare.
-- Katrina Brown Hunt
See All of America's Best Towns for July 4th
See More of America’s Best Towns for July 4thWith its ponderosa pines, frontier spirit, and easy access to the Grand Canyon, this Arizona town won the medal of honor in T+L’s Independence Day contest. Flagstaff also made the top 10 for its town squares, and the centerpiece of its July 4th celebration is a parade through downtown—along with fireworks, a fun run, a concert by the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra, and “Flagstaff Art in the Park,” a juried art and fine crafts show in downtown’s Wheeler Park. Flagstaff won high marks in the survey for its parks and hosts a downtown Art Walk monthly. Photo: Flagstaff Convention and Visitors Bureau
See More of America’s Best Towns for July 4thBend ranked No. 1 for town pride, and one reason may be its creative celebration of the Fourth: an all-day party in Drake Park with old-fashioned gunnysack races, hula-hoop contests, and, the pièce de résistance, the July 4th Pet Parade. (The fun continues throughout July and August in Drake Park with free outdoor concerts.) Dating back to the 1930s, the parade features costumed kids and pets walking or riding in wagons. Bend also ranked highly for family-friendly hotels, such as the River House Hotel, sitting on the Deschutes River. Photo: Pete Alport/Visit Bend
See More of America’s Best Towns for July 4thBy July, whale-watching season is over in this village on the west side of Maui, which was once a royal Polynesian hangout. Fireworks and other holiday festivities tend toward the spontaneous here; locals typically have potlucks on the beach. And readers apparently liked it that way, giving Lahaina strong scores for both its barbecue and gorgeous weather. For a sit-down version of a Hawaiian barbecue potluck, go to Aloha Mixed Plate, where you can enjoy the islands’ diverse array of comfort foods, from Korean short ribs to Kalua pork and fried Mochiko chicken. Photo: Bill Brooks / Alamy
See More of America’s Best Towns for July 4thIn Bucks County, roughly an hour from Philly and the Liberty Bell, Newtown throws a charmingly small-town-style party: its First Fourth! The celebration includes a parade and ends with fireworks at the local middle school. (The only hitch: it happens July 5th.) Newtown came in No. 1 for its ice cream; toast your holiday over ice cream sodas at Goodnoe Farm Dairy Bar, est. 1918. Or try the more recent arrival, the Zebra-Striped Whale, which specializes in creamy, granite-slab-mixed concoctions. Photo: Brian Titus
See More of America’s Best Towns for July 4thThis Rocky Mountain town comes into its own during summer, and the July 4th festivities downtown include a bike rodeo, a fun run, and a beer garden. The biggest fireworks show, Ralphie’s Independence Day Blast, shoots out from the Colorado University stadium and features the school’s live mascot, Ralphie the Buffalo. Boulder also ranked near the top of the survey for its quirky locals and its delicious burgers, such as those at The Sink, which has been around since 1923. Photo: Boulder Daily Camera
See More of America’s Best Towns for July 4thHe may not have slept here, but George Washington reportedly marched through this quirky town on four occasions during the Revolutionary War. Today, New Hope also ranked in the top 10 for its bars and music scene—and makes a lively launching pad for area festivities, from the Revolutionary Run in Washington Crossing, just a few miles south. If you visit New Hope before the Fourth, you can check out the Liberty Canal Festival, where enthusiasts reenact George Washington’s June 20–22, 1778, encampment. New Hope also ranked near the top of the survey for antiques shopping and cafés; brunch spot Logan Inn dates back to 1722. Photo: Anthony Sinagoga Photography
See More of America’s Best Towns for July 4thKnown for its huge fireworks display, this town outside Rocky Mountain National Park starts its Go 4th Festival on July 3rd with the Tunes, Treats and Toasts party featuring a pig roast, live music, and a beer garden. July 4th brings both an annual pancake breakfast and bull-riding show. Readers clearly wanted to stick around, ranking Estes Park in the top 10 for its motels, historic hotels, and vacation homes. Your choices include the romantic 14-suite Della Terra Mountain Chateau. Photo: Visit Estes Park
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