Fourth of July is coming up, and if you’re like most Americans, you’ll probably be grilling, hitting the beach or staking out a spot to watch the fireworks.
While many will stay close to home or head to big cities like New York and Boston to celebrate, why not go off-the-beaten path and check out one of these unique events.
For fanfare and a classic Americana feel, head to Bristol, RI, to participate in the country’s oldest Fourth of July celebration. Bristol’s festivities include a carnival, Fourth of July ball, pageant, concert series, parade and “patriotic exercises.”
To experience a different kind of Forth of July "first" head to Gatlinburg, Tenn., for the "First Independence Day Parade in the Nation."
The parade, which begins promptly at 12 a.m. on the Fourth of July, ushers in the holiday with the help of 100,000 participants and onlookers. Devoted attendees camp out along the route as early as 7 a.m. on July 3 to get a prime viewing spot.
After the parade, Gatlinburg hosts it's annual river raft regatta, followed by fireworks in the evening.
Get your fill of food-eating contests in New York. Watch 20 hungry hot dog fans compete in Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest, a Coney Island July 4 tradition. Across the river, Manhattan's Eventi Hotel will host Takeru Kobayashi, the world's fastest hot-dog eater -- his record is 69 dogs in 10 minutes.
History buffs can party with the presidents -- with their faces, that is -- at Mount Rushmore's Fourth of July celebrations.
Visitors enjoy live music, performances along the Avenue of Flags, Military honors, a flag folding ceremony, Declaration of Independence reading, a US Air Force flyover and tours of the monument. Fireworks are no longer conducted at the monument, but can be seen in nearby communities.
If you're looking to escape the heat this year, but still want to celebrate the holiday, Seward, Alaska may be the perfect place for you.
The waterfront town hosts a two-day celebration, including a midnight fireworks display, the five kilometer Mt. Marathon Race and a parade.