Go forth: 7 top destinations for Fourth of July celebrations
Cities, towns and villages across America celebrate Independence Day in ways big and small, but some celebrations are more memorable than others. These seven are special enough to merit a trip this Fourth of July week — and each city has more to see and do even if you don't go on the Fourth.
New York City
America's biggest city attracts America's biggest crowds to watch America's biggest fireworks display on the Fourth. The Macy's Fireworks show in New York City lights up the sky from four barges on the East River, with the best views from the Lower East Side. But, it's visible from anywhere in Manhattan, Brooklyn or Queens with an unobstructed view of the river (rooftop bars are packed). The annual show will be broadcast live at 8 p.m. EST on NBC. Earlier that day attend a music and shopping festival at the South Street Seaport and stop by Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island.
This Narragansett Bay town near Providence, twice attacked by the British during the Revolutionary War, proudly hosts one of America's oldest commemorations of the Fourth — dating back to 1785, only two years after the war ended. The Bristol 4th of July Celebration in Rhode Island begins on Flag Day and stretches to the Fourth with concerts, sporting events, carnival games, dinners, fireworks, a formal ball and a parade. While in town, explore the Bristol Waterfront Historic District, established in 1680.
Billed as "America's Biggest Birthday Party," Fair St. Louis is a free, three-day bash that packs the city's 1,371-acre Forest Park with 250,000 total attendees. Brett Young, Keith Sweat and The Flaming Lips headline a lineup of entertainers. Between performances you can ride a zip line, cruise the crafts fair, watch a water-ski show and enjoy nightly fireworks. Also happening downtown that day is one of the nation's oldest parades.
South Lake Tahoe
South Lake Tahoe, California — with its beaches, boating, hiking and nearby casinos — is crowded every summer weekend, but on July Fourth weekend it's especially popular. That's a good thing if you enjoy people watching and fireworks watching. Lights on the Lake, one of the best such displays in America, can be seen from anywhere with a lake view. An estimated 100,000 watch the pyrotechnics, which are reflected in this Sierras lake on the California/Nevada border, not too far from the Reno-Tahoe Airport. There's also a parade worth seeing the morning of the Fourth.
One of the highlights of Seafair, Seattle's annual summer-long series of major events, is the Summer Fourth festival. The location at Gas Works Park lets you ooh and ah over the fireworks above Lake Union, though the day begins at noon with live music, a beer garden, sack races, pie-eating contests and other frivolity. The festival is free unless you wish to reserve seats for prime viewing.
Heading for the beach on the Fourth is a classic move, so why not visit Florida, America's beach headquarters? There's a big Fourth of July celebration at this island town, found just across the Rickenbacker Causeway from Miami and just south of Miami Beach — though Key Biscayne (pop. 12,000) is much less chaotic than those cities. After the 57th annual Biscayne 4th of July parade down the main street of town is a mass picnic on the village green and fireworks over the Atlantic that you can admire from the beach.
The 94-year-old, 92,000-seat Rose Bowl is best known for its college bowl game, but it hosts events year-round including a drum corps exhibition — 12 elite drum and bugle corps bands involving 1,100 youth — on June 29 and AmericaFest on July 4. For the 93rd year, fireworks will fly over the stadium at the conclusion of AmericaFest.
If you go
United Airlines offers many nonstop flights to these seven cities or airports nearby. Visit united.com or use the United app soon to plan your getaway during the week of Independence Day — or any time.
If you can't get to Mars, what's the next best thing? Apparently Iceland. A team of renowned explorers and researchers recently journeyed to Iceland to test a Mars analog suit in a Martian-like environment.
The United sponsored expedition, led by The Explorers Club — an internationally recognized organization that promotes the scientific exploration of land, sea, air and space — and in partnership with Iceland Space Agency, involved the team venturing inside the Grímsvötn volcano and across the Vatnajökull ice cap. The group traveled to the remote location and lived for six days in the Grímsvötn Mountain Huts and endured harsh weather conditions and unstable terrain.
Helga Kristin Torfadöttir, Geologist and glacier guide, using the LiDAR system to map the ground and test the suit's capabilities on the glacier.
The objective of the mission was to explore the potential of concept operations at the Grímsvötn location while testing the suit in an arctic environment similar to what would be found on the surface of Mars. "This mission was an important test of the design of the MS1 suit, but it was also incredibly helpful to understand the how to conduct these sorts of studies in Iceland," said Michael Lye, MS1 designer and NASA consultant and RISD professor. "No matter how thoroughly something is tested in a controlled environment like a lab, studying it in a setting that accurately represents the environment where it will be used is absolutely essential to fully understand the design."
The suit was designed and constructed by faculty and students at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) with input and guidance from members of the HI-SEAS IV crew and NASA's Johnson Space Center Space Suit Engineering team. At 50-60 lbs, the suit is similar to what a planetary exploration suit would weigh in Martian gravity. The suit was originally designed to be used in the warm climate of Hawaii, however the martian climate is much closer to what would be found on top of the glaciers in Iceland. The data collected will inform the future of habitat and spacesuit design that can be used to train astronauts on Earth.
Today, we remember the colleagues, customers and every single victim of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
I know each of us in the United family marks this difficult moment in our own way. Still, we all share a common commitment to honor how our brothers and sisters left us and also celebrate what they gave to us during their lives. We remember their professionalism and heroism. We cherish their camaraderie and friendship. We carry with us the examples they set forth, especially in the heroism and bravery displayed by so many on that terrible day. Above all, we understand a simple truth: While thousands of our fellow human beings lost their lives in New York City, Arlington and Shanksville, the attacks of September 11th were aimed at all people of peace and good will, everywhere. They were attacks on the values that make life worth living, as well as the shared purpose that make us proud of what we do as members of the United family: connecting people and uniting the world.
We may live in times scarred by discord and disagreement, and we know there are those around the world who seek to divide us against one another. But, on this day – above all – we come together, as one. We affirm our core belief that far, far more unites us as citizens and fellow human beings than can ever divide us.
Let us embody that belief as we go about serving our customers and one another – on this day and every day – as we continue to help building a world that's more united. Let that be our memorial to the sisters and brothers we lost, eighteen Septembers ago.