Skip to Content

4th of July Activities & Things To Do

American’s love celebrating 4th of July. It’s a time to gather with friends and family and celebrate our great country with patriotic displays. All over America there are parades, barbecues, and fireworks shows. Here’s a list of fun 4th of July activities and things to do.

Independence Day will be observed on Thursday, July 4, 2024

Find 4th of July Events in Orange County

4th of July Activities & Things To Do

A Brief History Of The 4th Of July

The 4th of July is the celebration of our great nation’s independence from Britain. The battle for independence began with the American Revolution, or the Revolutionary War in 1775. American Colonists were tired of living under the British thumb. The Stamp Act, The Tea Act, and the Townshend Acts all contributed to conflicts including the notable Boston Massacre.

A Continental Congress was established, along with a Continental Army, led by George Washington. There were many battles between the British and the Colonists.

On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress voted to adopt a Declaration Of Independence. The battles continued through 1782, and Great Britain officially recognized the independence of the US in 1783. But the official observance of our independence as a nation is recognized as of 1776.

In 1776, after the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, some colonists held mock funerals for King George III as a way to symbolize the end of their oppression by the monarchy. In 1777, people fired canons and muskets, held concerts and bonfires, and took to the streets for parades. People have been celebrating ever since.

The first use of fireworks to celebrate the occasion was in Philadelphia on July 4, 1777. The first organized 4th of July celebration included a 13 gun salute by ships cannons, and the Sons of Liberty set fireworks off over Boston Common.

The 4th of July became a federal holiday in 1870, and in 1941, it was added to the list of paid holidays for federal employees.

Here’s how to celebrate this Independence Day:

Attend A Parade

There are 4th of July Parades all over the country to celebrate the holiday. Some of the best parades are in Washington DC, Bristol, Rhode Island, Alameda, California, Cooperstown, New York, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Arlington, Texas, Pacific Palisades, California, and right here in Huntington Beach, California.

Go To A Fireworks Show

Most cities host a variety of fireworks shows that can be viewed by the public, and most are well promoted.

Attend A Festival

Many cities have fairs or festivals on the 4th of July, concluded by an evening fireworks show.

Have A Barbecue

Invite your friends and family to enjoy an afternoon outdoors grilling up goodies. Did you know that 4th of July is one of the days when the most hot dogs are eaten? Throw some dogs on the fire and put out the lawn games.

Host A Driveway Fireworks Show

If your city allows safe and sane fireworks, invite your people over to put on a show. Kids love the up close displays, but remember to be safe, follow instructions, and only adults should be handling these. Keep a bucket of water nearby for cooling, or for emergencies, and remember to toss the trash post-show.

Play Dress Up

Dress up in your best, most patriotic attire or go even further — dress up like your favorite founding father or another patriotic person. Make it even more fun by making it a costume contest at your cookout and the winner gets a fun prize.

Fly The Flag

Remember to put your flags out for 4th of July! Show off your patriotism with the red, white, and blue of Old Glory.

Visit A Historic Landmark

Check out a place or historic site, especially one that may have relevance to the discovery of America, or the establishment of our independence.

Visit A State Or National Park

There are many state and national parks dedicated to the establishment of our great country. Try Independence National Historical Park if you live in the area. You can see the Ben Franklin Museum, the Liberty Bell, and Independence Hall.

Plan A Roadtrip

Take a roadtrip over the holiday and plan to explore places along the way that are all-American, like Route 66, California Gold Rush towns, stop at one of the remaining Muffler Men (those 20-foot tall statues that are spotted on the roadside), historic sites, and other unique roadside attractions.

Take A Trip To Philly

Philadelphia is where our Independence as a nation was founded. Visit Independence National Historical Park as mentioned above, attend the city’s amazing fireworks display, see the POPS on Independence performance, attend the Party On The Parkway, and more!

Run A Marathon or Fun Run

There are many fun runs and full marathons around the country that kick off the holiday with a morning race.

Have A Block Party

Meet up with your neighbors and plan to celebrate together. The neighbor kids can get to know each other, the adults can mingle. Each house can have a different lawn game or activity, pull out the grills and have a BBQ potluck, put out some kiddie pools or slip and slides, and enjoy sparklers and safe and sane fireworks after dark.

Have A Bike Parade

Get the kids and friends together and decorate your bikes with streamers, then head out for a neighborhood bike parade.

Have A Beach Bonfire

A Beach Bonfire is especially fun if you live in a coastal area that hosts a fireworks show over the water. You’ll have to get there early to secure a bonfire pit, but set up a beach tent and make a day of it. Bring food, music, outdoor games, sand toys, boogie boards, and sunblock and enjoy a great day out.

Watch A Patriotic Movie

There are plenty of military and patriotic themed movies on the streaming channels. Turn off the lights, pop some popcorn, and settle in for a movie night. Born On The Fourth Of July, Glory, The Thin Red Line, Hacksaw Ridge, and The Patriot are just a few great options. If you have a projects and a screen, you can have a backyard or driveway movie night and invite your friends.

Volunteer With A Veterans Organization

America’s Veterans have played an integral role in protecting our country and our freedoms. Show your appreciation and respect by volunteering with organizations like Disabled American Veterans, Wounded Warrior, and the VA.

Volunteer With An Organization That Serves Active Military

Just like Veterans who are no longer serving, our active military men and women continue to protect our country and our freedoms. Volunteer with a local military organization to show your appreciation and respect. Our volunteer opportunities page has a few great local options to consider. You can also team up with an organization that sends care packages to deployed soldiers.

Go Camping

It’s summertime, and that means it’s a great time to go camping. Whether your ideal trip is lakeside, in a forest, or in the desert, there are plenty of fun places to plant your tent.

Make Patriotic Crafts

Sew or paint your own flag, make your own sparklers, make red, white, and blue pinwheels, garlands, and more. You can check out Pinterest for fun ideas or visit your favorite craft blog.

Go To A Baseball Game

America’s favorite pastime is a great way to spend the day on the 4th of July. Head out to the ball park if there are games in your area. Check to see who’s playing.

Go Shopping

4th of July sales are among some of the best of the year! Check out your local retailers to see if they have any great deals, especially on items you may need for your home or garden.

Go Berry Picking

Summer is prime time for berries! Head to a local U-Pick farm and fill your baskets with strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries.

Go On A Hike

Visit your local wilderness area for a quiet stroll through nature. Take time to reflect on the things you are grateful for, soak up some sun, and get some exercise on the trails.

Have A 4th of July Game Day

Gather with friends and family for a little competition and start the tradition of playing a friendly sport. Football, soccer, softball, baseball, or even volleyball. You can even host a backyard Olympics.

Make A Patriotic Dessert

Make brownies, ice cream cake, cheesecake, or set up an ice cream sundae bar, and decorate with festive, patriotic toppings. Berries, sprinkles, and frosting are great ways to add pretty colors and flair to your treats.

Make Festive Cocktails

4th of July is a big day for beer, wine, and cocktails. Add a pop of color to your drinks by incorporating red, white, and blue. You can use food coloring drops, blue curacao, and grenadine to get the colors you want, or add red or blue berries.

Have A Water Play Day

Put out the slip and slides or sprinklers, hang out by the pool, or rent a bounce house that has a water slide. Make the most of the day off and the warm summer weather by splashing the day away.

Visit A Waterpark

Take the waterplay up a notch and head to your local water park. These are great places to beat the summer heat! After the park closes, head home for some fireworks fun.

Visit An Amusement Park

Hit the theme park for a day full of fun with rides and games. Many theme parks will also have a fantastic fireworks show scheduled for the evening.

Make An All American Playlist

Show off your patriotism by putting together a playlist of songs about America. Here are some of the songs we’ve got on our list:

  • American Pie by Don McLean
  • American Girl by Tom Petty
  • God Bless The USA by Lee Greenwood
  • This Land Is Your Land by Woodie Guthrie
  • Color Me America by Dolly Parton
  • Born In The USA by Bruce Springsteen
  • Ragged Old Flag by Johnny Cash
  • The Star Spangled Banner
  • Travelin’ Soldier by The Dixie Chicks
  • America by Neil Diamond
  • Some Gave All by Billy Ray Cyrus
  • American Soldier by Toby Keith
  • America The Beautiful by Ray Charles
  • Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd

More Fun Things To Do On 4th Of July

  • Have A Picnic
  • Go Bowling
  • Have A Backyard Campout
  • Learn American Flag etiquette
  • Have a hot dog eating contest
  • Visit the Statue of Liberty
  • Read the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution
  • Visit Washington DC
  • Visit A State capitol
  • Attend a concert
  • Decorate your home patriotically
  • Go fishing
  • Have a 1776-themed party
  • Have a game day followed by fireworks fun
  • Visit A Museum

Related Articles

30 Cities in California for a 3-Day Vacation4th of July Events in Orange County
Fairs & Festivals in Orange CountyHow to Plan a Family RV Vacation
Best Beach Resorts in Orange CountyBest Southern California Resort Pools
Heidi Deal
Heidi Deal is the author of the Newcomers Handbook to Living In Los Angeles & Orange County, and a children’s book author specializing in history and human rights. When she's not writing you can find her solo hiking and going on new adventures with her kids and pup.