5 Ways to Celebrate the 4th -- Without Fireworks

Family Matters on 07.01.11
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The Fourth of July is synonymous with parades during the day and fireworks at night. But if you're like me, you may have a child that's too young to take the noise and crowds very well. And since the fireworks show will begin approximately three hours past my daughter's bedtime, we'll have to sit them out this year (probably for a few years).

Or maybe you're just not a huge fan of the typical Fourth of July celebrations. If you've done the same thing every Independence Day for the last few years, you could just be in the market for something a little different this holiday. Not to worry; I've got you covered. Below are five activities you and your family can enjoy together to celebrate our nation's birthday.

Catch a Concert


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Many times, a concert will take place prior to or during a fireworks show, but now always. There are music and food festivals taking place around the country, which include some amazing bands. If you're in the New York area, head to Brooklyn for its annual music festival. On the West Coast, check out the San Diego County Fair for some great tunes. If you want to get your grub on while you listen to some great music, the Taste of Chicago may be right up your alley.

To slow things down a bit, look into your local symphony. Many put on Independence Day shows. And if you just don't want to leave the comfort of your own home, you can watch the annual Fourth of July celebration in Washington, D.C., where some of the biggest names in music will perform this year, including Josh Groban, Matthew Morrison, and Jordin Sparks.

Run a Race

Road Race

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Each year, runners from around the world travel to Atlanta to run a 10K race on the morning of July 4. Sixty thousand participants will be running, walking, or rolling (there's a wheelchair race that's pretty amazing to see) down the main Atlanta thoroughfare, Peachtree Street. It's quite a site, with many of the runners dressing up in costumes, wearing ridiculous hats, and having an all-around great time.

If Atlanta is too far for you to travel, there are other races in different parts of the country you can check out, too. California, Minnesota, and Wisconsin are just a few of the other states that hold their own Independence Day race.

Host a Family Reunion

Family Reunion

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The Fourth of July is the perfect time to get the extended family together. The kids are out of school, most adults will have a long weekend, and the weather is warm. Reserve a spot at your local park, or if your family is a little bit smaller, clean up your own backyard and host everyone at your house. Put on some good tunes, grill up some delicious food, and let the family stories flow.

If the whole family can't attend, grab some friends and neighbors and have a picnic. Just make sure you include some hand-churned homemade ice cream for a true celebration of America.

Play at the Pool


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In most places around the United States, July 4 is going to be hot, hot, hot. What better way to cool off than to pack up the bag and head to the pool. The kids can swim and dive, and the parents relax and socialize (while keep a close eye on the kiddos, of course!).

To make a day of it, pack up some sandwiches, snacks, and drinks, and don't forget your sunscreen. No one wants to remember this Fourth of July as the day they got the worst sunburn of their lives.

See a Ball Game

baseball game

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Unfortunately for them but yay for us, the boys of summer don't usually get a break on the Fourth of July. Head out to the ball park for nine innings of American goodness. Just be sure to head out before the fireworks start, so you can beat the traffic.

If your team is away, then you can catch any number of games on TV. And if baseball isn't necessarily your bag, the finals of Wimbledon will take place Saturday and Sunday. NASCAR will be racing their laps around the Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, and the women's World Cup will be happening throughout the weekend for soccer fans. And of course, you can catch the annual Nathan's hot dog eating contest that takes place at noon every Fourth of July!

No matter what you choose to do this holiday weekend, be safe, have fun, and wish America a very happy birthday. Happy Fourth of July everyone!

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