Best Places to Celebrate the Fourth of July

By BT Editor / WalletHub
June 29, 2023
Stephanie mccabe Ajm ew EC24 unsplash
An American flag and fireworks by Stephanie McCabe - Unsplash

WalletHub recently released their findings for the best places to celebrate Fourth of July this year. Independence Day is one of the biggest holidays of the year in the US featuring parades, cookouts, and fireworks shows. WalletHub compared the 100 largest U.S. cities based on how well they balance holiday cost and fun, using a data set of 18 key metrics ranges from average beer and wine prices to duration of fireworks shows to the weather forecast.

Big Ticket Celebrations in the Northeast

American flags hang from Union Station in Washington, DC by Caleb Fisher - Unsplash

New York City was the #3 overall best place to celebrate this year, thanks to high rankings in the Celebrations (#2), Activities & Attractions (#2), and Safety (#3) categories. Nonetheless, it is one of the least affordable, so unless you plan a day trip, celebrating in the Big Apple is going to cost a lot.

Equally expensive is a celebration in Washington, DC, which came in at the number 11 spot overall. However, a trip to the capital is an incredibly appropriate way to spend the day celebrating our nation's independence. For history lovers, the extra splurge may be worth it; the capital city ranked high in both the Celebration and Activities & Attractions categories.

Texas Stars

San Antonio, Texas by Henry Becerra - Unsplash

Several Texan towns stood out in WalletHub's data. Dallas (#8), San Antonio (#9), Houston (#15), and Austin (#21) all ranked high overall. Dallas came in with the fourth best celebrations and Houston was the second most affordable, with the third lowest average prices for 3-star hotels.

Laredo, Texas also stood out in several of the individual categories. It has the fifth lowest average prices for beer and wine, fifth cheapest 3-star hotels, and was the fifth overall most affordable place to celebrate.

Perfect Weather and Parties in Vegas

Las Vegas ranked fourth overall but came out on top in several of the individual metrics, including best weather forecast, fewest DUI-related fatalities, and cheapest 3-star hotels. It also ranked first in the Affordability category. It had strong showings in the Celebrations and Activities & Attractions categories as well—which should come as no surprise, since Vegas knows how to throw a party. It's also relatively safe and there are many good deals on flights to and from the city.

California Comes Out on Top

Fireworks on a beach in California by Diogo Fagundes - Unsplash

Los Angeles was ranked the best place to celebrate the Fourth of July, with San Francisco coming in at second place. Los Angeles also came out on top in the Celebrations category, and San Francisco ranked #1 in the Activities & Attractions category and tied for the best weather forecast for July 4th. San Diego also had an impressive showing at the #7 spot.

Unfortunately, all three of these cities faired poorly in the Affordability category. If you're looking for an affordable option in California, though, San Jose is a good choice. It comes in at a respectable 17th place overall, but is ranked 10th most affordable. Fresno also has the lowest average prices for beer and wine, which equals big savings if you plan to host a gathering with friends or relatives.

Coast-to-Coast Cost Concerns

No matter the city, though, Americans are reconsidering how they will budget travel plans. According to WalletHub's analysis, Americans plan to spend $9.5 billion this year on food for their Independence Day celebrations—this includes roughly 150 million hot dogs—and an additional $3 billion on beer and wine. About $2.7 billion will be spent on fireworks.

The Vacationeer recently polled Americans about their Fourth of July plans and how inflation was affecting them. Even though nearly 40% of respondents planned to do nothing at all, compared to last year's survey there was a 5% increase in the number of people planning to travel. That being said, WalletHub found that 62% plan to spend less money compared to last year and The Vacationeer found that 64% of those surveyed say their plans have been affected by inflation.

“Unfortunately, only 63% of Americans feel financially independent this 4th of July. Although that is a step up from the 56% who felt financially independent last year, there is still a significant portion of the population lacking financial freedom,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “The country has recovered from a lot of the financial damage done by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially when it comes to employment, but high inflation and the potential of a recession have continued to make life difficult for many Americans.”

Mark Z. Meng, an associate professor at Indiana University's School of Business, suggests some money-saving tips for the holiday: "Think about some big money items during travel. Lodging: where you stay can make a huge difference, including whether it is close to a downtown area, brand name, and star level, duration of your stay, additional service requests, etc. Transportation: when you book the airline ticket and through where you book it can also make a difference in terms of price; normally I would suggest people book their tickets early if they can; last-minute booking tends to be pricy most likely. Many travelers often find out red-eye flights cheaper, but you need to be careful about whether it is feasible for your schedule and personal condition. Even if you are on a road trip driving your own vehicle, preplan your parking can save you some money. There is plenty of parking space finding APPs where they offer a huge discount if you reserve it in advance, especially in some dense urban areas. Event and entertainment: normally during such holidays, many destination communities organize and offer some free events open to the public; take advantage of those."

—For the full rankings and data, visit WalletHub's report here.

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Celebrate an Iconic Landmark in San Francisco This Summer

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) and its nonprofit preservation partner, Market Street Railway, have joined together with a dozen organizations, including business and merchant groups and history and preservation nonprofits, to stage a slate of special events in the Summer and Fall of 2023 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of cable cars, San Francisco's iconic symbol. “For the last 150 years, residents and visitors have enjoyed the incredible experience of riding our cable cars through our neighborhoods to experience stunning bay views that are famous all over the world,” said San Francisco Mayor London Breed. “You cannot imagine San Francisco without our iconic cable cars. In celebration of the 150th anniversary, we invite everyone to ride our wonderful cable cars to experience the magic of San Francisco.” “No other city in the world has cable cars. San Francisco was the first city with cable cars, and since 1957, we've been the only city to run them,” said Rick Laubscher, President of Market Street Railway. “Our special 150th anniversary website,, is filled with cable car history and little-known stories. It also makes it easy to combine cable car rides with walking tours of Chinatown, the Barbary Coast, Fisherman's Wharf, Nob Hill, Russian Hill, Union Square, Polk Gulch and the Financial District. It's a great year to rediscover San Francisco and the cable cars.” Experience New Tours The six-month-long series of events include the first-ever public tours of the Muni shop in San Francisco's Dogpatch neighborhood, where cable cars are built and rebuilt; history-themed walk/ride tours of neighborhoods served by the cable car lines; the planned operation of “ghost” cable cars from disappeared lines, and a reenactment of cable car founder Andrew Hallidie's historic first run. All are detailed on San Francisco's cable cars are one of the only moving National Historic Landmarks. To make it easier for visitors and residents to experience cable car rides, starting July 1 through the end of 2023, a special $5 all-day pass will let riders hop on and off the California cable car line and explore neighborhoods along the route. A standard point-to-point cable car ticket costs $8. Residents and visitors can also take advantage of the existing all-day, all-Muni Visitor Passport for $13 to hop on and off all cable cars, F-line historic streetcars, Muni trains and buses to take walking tours of neighborhoods near the cable car lines. The passes are available on the Muni Mobile smartphone app. For guides to must-sees along and near the cable car lines here, San Francisco Travel Association has created three guides on its website for the Powell-Mason Line, Powell-Hyde Line, and California Street Line. Ride Historic Routes A cable car on Hyde Street by Arnaud STECKLE - Unsplash The cable car that starred in the kickoff event is unique. In the 1880s, it was open-sided and carried throngs of riders from the Ferry Building out Market and Haight streets to enjoy Golden Gate Park. After the 1906 earthquake and fire, 'Big 19' moved to the Sacramento-Clay route, successor to Andrew Hallidie's original 1873 cable car line, and ran there from 1907 until 1942, when that line shut down. Restored by Muni crafts workers, 'Big 19', one of the largest cable cars ever built, it inaugurated the celebration with a trip up California Street through Chinatown and over Nob Hill, just two blocks south of inventor Hallidie's Clay Street line. Later in the summer, Muni hopes to have 'Big 19' in regular service every Saturday on the California Street line through the fall as part of the celebration. Likewise, if work can be completed, Muni plans monthly operation of cable car 42 on its original Hyde Street trackage. Cable car 42 ran the O'Farrell, Jones & Hyde line until 1954, when the southern half of the line was abandoned, and the tracks on Hyde were connected to part of a Powell Street line. Car 42 retains its original 1907 paint scheme and details. Decades after being sold as surplus to a cattle rancher in Santa Barbara County when the O'Farrell line closed, Market Street Railway brought it back to San Francisco and worked with Muni to restore it for service. Watch the 150th Celebration A cable car on Sutter Street by Milos Bojovic - Unsplash On the actual 150th anniversary date, August 2, history reenactors portraying Andrew Hallidie, Emperor Norton, Domingo Ghirardelli, Lotta Crabtree and other notable San Franciscans from 150 years ago will gather at Hallidie Plaza at Powell and Market Streets at 10 a.m. to honor Hallidie's historic first run. A by-invitation luncheon will follow, honoring cable car heroes including Hallidie; Friedel Klussmann, who saved the cable cars in 1947; Senator Dianne Feinstein, who as Mayor personally led the rebuilding of the cable car system 40 years ago; Fannie Mae Barnes, the first woman to work as a “gripman” operating a cable car 25 years ago; and others. Learn More at Local Archives The San Francisco Public Library has compiled a list of cable car books available at its various branches for interested readers. The Main Library's San Francisco History Center will mount an exhibit of historic cable car photos later this summer, in collaboration with the SFMTA Photo Archive. Market Street Railway's free San Francisco Railway Museum on Steuart Street across from the Ferry Building will debut a special exhibit on 150 Years of cable cars in mid-July. Participating partners in the celebration include the Chinatown Merchants Association, Chinese Historical Society of America, Downtown SF Partnership, Fisherman's Wharf Merchants, Friends of the Cable Car Museum, Pier 39, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, San Francisco Chinese Chamber of Commerce, San Francisco City Guides, San Francisco Historical Society, San Francisco Public Library, San Francisco Travel Association, SF Heritage and Union Square Alliance.


These Unique Seattle Tours Explore Fascinating Historical Events and Mysteries

If you're a fan of true crime, urban legends, and unsolved mysteries pique your interest, then you'll want to add a brand new experience to your next trip to Seattle, Washington. With the Seattle Southside/Highline area being home to many well-known happenings that have been made famous on a global scale, the museum has planned to turn the history of these occurrences into unique storytelling experiences for out-of-town guests and locals alike. Highline's Fascinating Tours will uncover local findings relating to D.B. Cooper, the Green River Killer, Ted Bundy, Jimi Hendrix, a 12,000-year-old giant sloth discovered under the SeaTac airport, Des Moines Memorial Drive, and much more. From chilling murders infamously covered on Netflix and other streaming platforms to historically significant events that have been lost at bay, the Highline Museum will reveal it all. Guided by a seasoned storyteller, the experience will last two hours. Tours will also include the following: Shuttle service to and from the meeting locationSnacks and beveragesFree admission to Highline Museum's Glow ExperienceDiscounted admission to the National Nordic Museum The tours, which began operating this month, will be offered on Saturdays and Sundays. The public can purchase tickets for $65.00 per person. Discounted tickets will soon be available as part of the Seattle Southside Savings Pass. Pike Street in Seattle by Sabine Ojeil - Unsplash "The Highline Heritage Museum is thrilled to be launching these tours to shed light on some interesting happenings that have taken place in our community. Despite how well-known they might be, we have a dedicated team of researchers curating stories and uncovering untold facts to provide a one-of-a-kind experience" shares Executive Director, Nancy Salguero McKay. This award-winning museum features exhibits, public programs, and educational programs that enrich our cultural connections. The Highline Heritage Museum capture the stories of the Highline region, and bridges the years from the earliest of times, to the newest immigrant stories. History and heritage are personal matters to everyone. They believe that exploring everyone's heritage allows us to experience a personal journey that enriches us as a community. The Museum is passionate that its visitors have access to a broad spectrum of information sources and cultural perspectives. They envision themselves sitting at a round table where no one is the leader and stories are heard respectfully, regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation, disabilities, or ethnicity.


The Most Affordable Cities for Family Vacations This Summer

There's still plenty of time left this summer to plan a great vacation, and if you didn't think you could add it to your budget—think again. Forbes Advisor recently ranked the most affordable cities in the US to take a family vacation. While popular vacation destinations like New York City, Boston, Honolulu, and West Coast urban areas are some of the worst when it comes to affordable options, that doesn't mean you have to miss out on the fun. In fact, you might even enjoy getting off the beaten path and avoiding the most crowded spots. The most affordable cities list is dominated by East Coast and Midwestern locales, but the destinations still encompass a wide variety of travel styles and activities to give families different options when planning a budget-friendly getaway. To create the list, Forbes Advisor analyzed the 100 largest US cities, excluding any cities with an average temperature exceeding 95º F during the summer months (June, July and August)—when families tend to travel. They looked at metrics like the average round-trip airfare, hotel room rates, rental car prices, and meal costs. Below are the top cities that they found when it comes to affordable family vacations this summer. #5. Wichita, Kansas Airfare to Wichita can be on the pricier side but don’t let that deter you from a trip to Wichita. Once there, costs are lower than other cities for an average overall trip cost of $3,673. As a bonus, you’ll find plenty of low-cost activities to keep your expenses down further. Nearby Kansas City, Missouri also came in at #9. Head to the Old Cowtown Museum for a look at Wichita in its booming cattle town days, complete with reenactments. Outside of town, the Strataca underground salt museum includes tram rides that kids will love. Also nearby is the Cosmosphere, a space museum with exhibits intended for adults plus a whole section called CosmoKids for the other half of your family #4. Buffalo, New York Niagara Falls at night by Vinayak Sharma - Unsplash To combine affordable prices with comfortable summer temperatures, plan a trip to Buffalo, New York, where the average family trip cost is $3,669. Summer is primetime for local festivals, with something nearly every weekend from June through August, giving you a great opportunity to add low-cost entertainment to your trip plans in addition to the city’s permanent attractions, such as the Buffalo AKG Art Museum which reopens in June after a $230 million renovation. Only thirty minutes away, Niagara Falls is a can’t-miss add-on to your Buffalo vacation. Kids will love getting soaked on the hurricane deck at Cave of the Winds, an attraction that takes you practically to the base of the waterfalls. No passport is required for families staying on the American side of the falls. #3. Orlando, Florida Palm trees in Orlando, Florida by Drew Coffman - Unsplash Orlando is certainly a popular family vacation destination, thanks to Disney and Universal, but it may not be on your radar when it comes to cheap trips. However, a plethora of low-cost airlines and healthy competition keep flight prices reasonable. Overall, the average trip cost for our example family comes in at $3,634. Hotels, while on the higher side, often come with extra space, which might mean you can downsize to one room instead of two or make breakfast in your kitchenette instead of paying for a restaurant. While tickets to popular theme parks may be too much of a stretch, those aren't the only things to do in town. Gatorland has thrilling shows, a zipline plus off-road swamp rides. The beach and aqua park at Nona Adventure Park is the perfect summer day out. #2. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma The sun shines in downtown Oklahoma City by Karsten Winegeart - Unsplash Oklahoma City takes a prominent position on this list, in part thanks to its lower cost of hotels. Here, the average cost of a three-night trip totals $3,272. Families will find plenty to do at the Boathouse District, an outdoor recreation spot with activities for all ages. Similarly, the Myriad Gardens and Six Flags Frontier City will appeal to kids and adults alike. Nearby Tulsa also comes in at #7. Families that have time could combine both destinations with a single airfare purchase. In Tulsa, don’t miss the riverfront Gathering Place—a free park with one of the country’s largest playgrounds. #1. Toledo, Ohio A splash pad in downtown Toledo, Ohio by Cathy Holewinski - Unsplash Toledo, Ohio, comes out on top as the cheapest travel destination in Forbes Advisor's rankings. For a family of four, the average cost totaled $2,731 including economy airfare for four, three nights in two rooms at a mid-range hotel, a three-day rental car and three meals per day. Since Toledo is within a day’s drive of metro areas including Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Nashville, families may be able to save on airfare, too. Nearby towns Cleveland (#13) and Columbus (#16) also ranked high in affordability. The Toledo Zoo is an interactive experience with giraffe feeding platforms, a stingray touch tank and behind-the-scenes tours. The Imagination Station museum is equally hands-on and children and adults can hunt for corals, brachiopods, and trilobites at Fossil Park. Round out your trip with a day at Maumee Bay State Park Marina or Cedar Point amusement park, an hour away. —For more family vacation ideas, check out the full rankings at Forbes Advisor.


3 Great Summer Fishing Trips

From deep sea adventures to leisurely hikes along mountain streams, there are all kinds of ways to experience the outdoors and see the waterways of North America. For the ultimate fishing trip, the three vacations below have something for every kind of angler. Deep Sea Fishing Off Florida's Historic Coast Flounder, sea trout, sheepshead, redfish, largemouth bass, and tarpon are just a few of the types of fish being caught off of Florida's Historic Coast. From fishing piers and kayak fishing to deep sea charters, fly fishing, and everything in between, there is never a shortage of fishing opportunities when you visit St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra, and The Beaches – making it a top destination for anglers from around the world. There are dozens of local charter companies to choose from. With Captain Jacob Hardy at the helm, Fishardy Charters offers private fishing charters for beginners and experienced anglers. Choose from a half-day, three-quarters of a day, or full-day experience that includes bait, fishing licenses, and fish cleaning services. Fishardy Charters leaves from the Conch House Marina, just two miles from historic downtown St. Augustine, and specializes in coastal and inshore fishing. Another local charter company is Drum Man Fishing Charters, which is run by Captain James Dumas, and specializes in light tackle and fly fishing for fish such as redfish, trout, flounder, tarpon, and cobia. Choose from a four-hour or six-hour excursion that includes fishing licenses, fishing rods and gear, and bait and lures. Hosted by the Ancient City Game Fish Association (ACGFA), a local nonprofit that promotes the sport of fishing in the area, the popular Kingfish Challenge offers a tournament for anglers of all skill levels and ages. From Thursday, July 13 through Saturday, July 15, events include a Kids' Clinic, Junior Angler Tournament, and the main attraction, the Kingfish Challenge, with cash prizes up to $20,000. The weekend also includes live music, food, raffles, and more. The Junior Challenge is $25, registration for Kingfish Challenge is $320, and Backwater/Kayak Challenge is $75. This tournament takes place at Camachee Cove Yacht Harbor. If you are looking for a way to get out on the water and learn a thing or two about fishing, but aren't tournament-ready, there are plenty of places around Florida's Historic Coast to cast a line. Visit the St. Johns County Ocean & Fishing Pier in St. Augustine Beach for your chance to catch everything from tarpon to king mackerel. Other fishing piers in the area include Lighthouse Park on Salt Run, the Vilano Beach Pier and Usina Boat Ramp Fishing Pier on the Intracoastal Waterway, and the Rose of Sharon Pier north of the Bridge of Lions. A few smaller fishing piers in the area include Treaty Park, Vaill Point Park, and Faver-Dykes State Park. Fly Fishing in Wyoming's Star Valley Mountain waterways in Star Valley, Wyoming by Rebecca Carr - Unsplash Head out for a weekend outdoors and catch your own dinner! Wyoming is a classic summer destination for road trips and family vacations. Star Valley is particularly perfect for fishing trips, with mountain streams, a few lakes, and a few rivers. It is the home of the native Snake River fine-spotted cutthroat trout. With three rivers that run through the valley, travelers looking to fly fish in Wyoming’s Star Valley are in luck. Salt River, Greys River, and Snake River all offer prime fishing to all levels of anglers. For the best local tips, cast a line with a guide. You can try fishing guide services with Afton’s Feathered Hook Outfitters or Alpine’s Fishing with J. The idyllic rivers also make the area an ideal hiking destination. Try Little Greys River Trail just north of Alpine, Wyoming or Strawberry Creek Trail near Bedford, Wyoming. In addition to the river fishing, there's Cottonwood Lake, about 6 miles east of Smoot, full of cutthroat and brook trout. Swift Creek, east of Afton, features two small reservoirs that are well stocked by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department with cutthroat trout. Murphy Lake is about a half-hour trip from Alpine and stocked with some hatchery brood stock culls, and Palisades Reservoir holds trophy brown trout as well as cutthroats and some kokanee salmon. Saltwater Angling Off of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula Progreso, Mexico by Anton Lukin - Unsplash The Yucatan is typically easy to travel to from most major U.S. cities, with many direct flights going into Cancun. Oftentimes flights are reasonably priced, which helps to keep overall costs low. Progreso is one of the most popular beach towns in the state of Yucatan. Located just 22 miles from the capital city, Merida, the town was founded in 1871 and has grown to become the main port of the Yucatan coast. Today it is a tourist hub and a border point open to commercial exchange with the states and countries on the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. Due to its commercial activity, Progreso is the most-visited port in the state and a popular cruise destination for visitors from all over the world. Along the boardwalk, visitors will find both international and local restaurants, as well as shops and boutiques. The market of Progreso is a destination in its own right, selling local food, crafts, and more. The beaches are the real star of Progreso, with white sand, turquoise water, and endless activities from kitesurfing and windsurfing to water skiing and fishing. Fishing on Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula can be incredible in the late summer and into the fall. During this season, there are large numbers of resident permit, bonefish, and snook around that receive low pressure from visiting anglers. For fly fishing adventures, try the outfitters at Yellow Dog. There's also Yucatan Snook, which offers in-shore excursions for some of the best shallow water speckled sea trout, snook and tarpon fishing in the area.