From Sea to Shining Sea, Celebrate the 245th Anniversary of America's Founding at These 15 Destinations
Colleen Cheslak, (202) 367-1861 x7234
(Washington, D.C.) — Tomorrow marks the day when 12 daring and determined colonial delegations voted in favor of American independence in 1776. However, the passage of the Declaration of Independence did not occur until two days later on July 4 — the day that Americans now celebrate as Independence Day. This treasured holiday allows us to unite and reflect on the creation of our nation, as well as the growth that has come about in its 245 years. As the country readies itself for this milestone, the American Battlefield Trust — the nation’s premier battlefield land preservation organization — recommends the following family-friendly events.
June 28 – July 5: Fourth of July Week with the Museum of the American Revolution, Philadelphia, Pa.
Through a combination of online and onsite programming for all ages, join the Museum of the American Revolution for a weeklong observation of Independence Day that explores the Revolution and its ongoing relevance. Ponder how you define freedom and what you’re doing to carry forward the Revolution’s promises of liberty and equality. Learn more.
July 1 – July 3: 158th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, Gettysburg, Pa.
The three-day Battle of Gettysburg marked a turning point not only in the course of the Civil War, but also for the future of the United States of America. Join Park Rangers and Licensed Battlefield Guides during the 158th anniversary for a series of free guided walks and talks that discuss, explore, and reflect on this important chapter in our nation’s history. Learn more.
July 3: Independence Day Celebration at the Old North Church, Boston, Mass.
Bring the family out to Boston’s iconic Old North Church for performances that would leave Paul Revere proud. Festivities include the MIT Guild of Bellringers ringing of Old North Church’s eight change ringing bells, dramatic readings of Longfellow’s "Paul Revere’s Ride" poem, an organ performance featuring patriotic music by Dr. Libor Dudas, the Middlesex County Volunteer Fife & Drums, and more. Learn more.
July 3: The International Printing Museum’s Independence Day Celebration, Carson, Calif.
On the west coast, check out the International Printing Museum’s patriotic happenings. Included are special working tours of the Printing Museum collections, with the opportunity to print your own Declaration of Independence on Franklin’s colonial press. You’ll even be presented with the chance to print your own memorable souvenir on the museum’s authentic tabletop presses. General admission is $15 per person or $50 for a group of four — a price that covers not only your museum visit but also a slice of apple pie and a glass of colonial punch. Learn more.
July 3: Picnics and Patriotism — How Americans Celebrated the Fourth of July in the 1860s, Dover, Tenn.
Learn a thing or two about how Americans celebrated the nation’s birthday in the 1860s. Join Fort Donelson National Battlefield’s park staff at the historic Dover Hotel as they recreate the patriotic traditions, games, and music of years past. Take part in the fun by trying out the 19th century activities on the lawn. Junior Rangers can even earn a badge for completing a scavenger hunt. Learn more.
July 3 – July 4: Fourth of July at Guilford Courthouse National Military Park, Greensboro, N.C.
Discover what life was like during the Southern Campaign of the Revolutionary War through Ranger programs like "Loyalist, Moderate, or Revolutionary?" and guided tours of the Guilford Courthouse Battlefield. There will also be a wreath-laying ceremony hosted by the Daughters of the American Revolution on July 4. Learn more.
July 3 – July 4: Independence Day at Stony Point Battlefield, Stony Point, N.Y.
Head to Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site — where General George Washington launched a daring assault on the British in 1779 — as the park travels back in time for a reading of the Declaration of Independence, coupled with commemorative cannon fires on July 3 and 4. Learn more.
July 3 – July 5: Fourth of July at Fort Scott National Historic Site, Fort Scott, Kan.
As the nation celebrates the nation's 245th birthday, Fort Scott will observe the Fourth of July holiday with its own version of fireworks: 19th century cannon thundering across the parade ground. Learn more.
July 4: Fourth of July at Patriots Point, Mt. Pleasant, S.C.
Head to Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum to take in the museum by day and a vibrant fireworks display — above the U.S.S. Yorktown — by night. Their biggest event of the year, the Independence Day celebration also features live music and Lowcountry food trucks. In contrast to previous iterations, the event will be limited to the shore. Learn more.
July 4: Fort Laramie’s “Old Fashioned” Fourth of July Celebration, Fort Laramie, Wyo.
In genuine frontier style, Fort Laramie National Historic Site will celebrate the nation’s 245th. From kids’ activities, artillery demonstrations, a program held by the Pony Express Association, and more, this plethora of patriotic activities will keep visitors to the southeast Wyoming park captivated. Learn more.
July 4: Fourth of July in Historic Annapolis, Annapolis, Md.
Get ready to travel back in time to July 4, 1776, as you visit the William Paca House and Garden. Encounter living history interpreters throughout the property — including signer of the Declaration of Independence himself, William Paca — as they discuss what the revolutionary document might mean for the future of Maryland’s colonists. Learn more.
July 4: Independence Day at Fort Stanwix, Rome, N.Y.
From the “fort that never surrendered” comes a myriad of patriotic happenings this July 4. Join the staff at Fort Stanwix as they delve into the meaning of revolutionary objects on display, give Ranger-led walking tours of the site, read the Declaration of Independence, perform a formal weapons salute, and much more! Learn more.
July 4: Old State House Commemorative Bell Ringing and Celebration, Dover, Del.
Beginning with the ringing of the Old State House bell, the area surrounding the historic Dover structure will be swept away in celebration of the nation’s birthday. Of the many activities, look out for historical interpreters reciting the Declaration of Independence near the spot where the document was first read to the citizens of Dover in 1776. Learn more.
July 4: Revolutionary Celebrations at Minute Man National Historical Park, Concord, Mass.
Join Minute Man National Historical Park as it marks the 245th anniversary of the nation's founding with an in-person reading of the Declaration of Independence at Concord's North Bridge. After the reading, re-enactors representing the 10th Massachusetts Regiment will fire three musket volleys in honor of American independence. Learn more.
July 8: Re-enactment of the First Public Reading of the Declaration of Independence, Philadelphia, Pa.
Join Independence National Historical Park as they turn back the clock to July 8, 1776, when Colonel John Nixon first read the document publicly in Philadelphia’s State House Yard (now Independence Square). Gather near to hear “Colonel Nixon,” snag a free copy of the Declaration of Independence, and cheer or jeer as colonists did on the day in 1776. Learn more.
For more travel ideas, check the National Park Service events calendar at findyourpark.com, visit a state park website, or search for museums and historic sites near you.
The American Battlefield Trust is dedicated to preserving America’s hallowed battlegrounds and educating the public about what happened there and why it matters today. The nonprofit, nonpartisan organization has protected more than 53,000 acres associated with the Revolutionary War, War of 1812 and Civil War. Learn more at www.battlefields.org.