5 Last-Minute Fourth of July Travel Ideas

Your guide to quickly planning a long-weekend getaway.

Are you itching to explore a new city? Consider celebrating the holiday weekend with a roadtrip. Here are some hotel, restaurant and activities we recommend.

1. Annapolis

(1 hour and 20 minutes from Dover)

Take your Fourth of July festivities to America’s Sailing Capital. Watch the Annapolis Fourth of July Parade from 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m. or take an Independence Day Cruise along the river to get a waterfront view of the fireworks, which begin around 9:15 p.m.

Places to stay:

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  • Historic Inns of Annapolis: Experience 18th century charm with 21st century amenities. •• 58 State Circle, (410) 263-2641; $150–$200
  • Annapolis Waterfront Hotel: Enjoy idyllic views of the Annapolis Harbor. •• 80 Compromise St., (410) 268-7555; $200–$300

Restaurants to try:

  • O’Learys Seafood Restaurant: This upscale seafood eatery is decorated with abstract art.  310 Third St., (410) 263-0884
  • Boatyard Bar & Grill: This nautical-themed bar and restaurant is family-friendly. •• 400 4th St., (410) 216-6206

Other attractions: Annapolis has a rich history. The Maryland State House, which previously served as the nation’s capitol building from 1783-1784, is the oldest building to still have current legislative use. Additionally, the Mitchell Art Gallery features exhibitions from a variety of influential artists such as Matisse, Warhol and even Rembrandt.

2. Washington, D.C.

(2 hours from Middletown)

What better way to celebrate our nation’s independence than in the nation’s capital? Kicking off at 11:45 a.m. on July 4 and lasting until 2 p.m., the Independence Day Parade covers 10 blocks of Constitution Avenue. Additionally, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival will be held on the National Mall and will be going on all weekend from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Finally, a spectacular fireworks display will begin at 9:09 p.m. by the reflecting pool area.

Places to stay:

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  • Capitol Hill Hotel: Only 2.5 miles from the White House. • 200 C St. SE, (202) 543-6000; $175–$230
  • Kimpton Hotel Palomar: Just a six-minute walk from the metro station. • 2121 P Street NW, (202) 448-1800; $180–$215

Restaurants to try:

  • Founding Farmers: Serving American-inspired food. • 1924 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, (202) 822-8783
  • DCity Smokehouse: Traditional barbecue food with an online ordering option.  203 Florida Ave. NW, (202) 733-1919

Other attractions: Take in as much history as possible by visiting any of the Smithsonian museums (there are 11 to choose from).

3. New York City 

(2 hours from Wilmington by train)

The Big Apple never lacks excitement, especially around the Fourth of July. Catch the Staten Island Ferry to Staten Island and attend the oldest Fourth of July parade in the U.S. known as the Travis Parade beginning at 12:35 p.m. Then, get your dancing shoes on for Lincoln Center’s summer dance party, Midsummer’s Night Swing, which runs until July 15. Damrosch Park transforms into a dance floor and on the Fourth, David Ostwald’s Louis Armstrong Eternity Band will be performing. If dancing isn’t your thing, check out the Red, White and Brew Pub Crawl starting at 3 p.m. along 12 and 13 Streets. Finally, enjoy Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks over the East River beginning at 9:25 p.m.

Places to stay:

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  • Refinery Hotel: This hotel was built in an early twentieth century, neo-Gothic tower.  63 W 38th St., (646) 664-0310; $200–$300
  • Hotel Giraffe: Just a 10-minute walk from the Statue of Liberty.  365 Park Ave. S, (212) 685-7700; $175–$300

Restaurants to try:

  • Joe’s Pizza: A Greenwich Village institution serving authentic, New York-style pizza. • 7 Carmine St., (212) 366-1182
  • Estela: Serving Mediterranean dishes cooked with fresh market ingredients.  47 E. Houston St., (212) 219-7693

Other attractions: There are plenty of other activities in New York City to keep you occupied. Consider seeing “The Lion King,” or “The Book of Mormon” on Broadway over the long weekend. Or take a stroll through Central Park or across the Brooklyn Bridge.

4. Pittsburgh 

(5 hours from Newark)

Head to the Steel City and experience what many are calling the most livable city in the country. Make your way to Point State Park, where there will be food and entertainment available as well as family activities such as caricature drawings and face painting starting at noon. Around 9:30 p.m., sit back and enjoy the fireworks that are visible from anywhere in the city, especially Pittsburgh’s three rivers.

Places to stay:

  • Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel: Just three miles from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.  107 6th St., (412) 562-1200; $190–$230
  • Fairmont Pittsburgh: You can walk to the fireworks in less than 10 minutes.  510 Market St., (412) 773-8800; $180–$250

Restaurants to try:

  • Primanti Bros.: Stuff your face with the famous Pittsburgh sandwich and wash it down with an Iron City beer.  2 S. Market Square, (412) 263-2142 
  • Monterey Bay Fish Grotto: Experience dinner with a view at this upscale restaurant overlooking Mount Washington.  1411 Grandview Ave. #2, (412) 481-4414

Other attractions: Get an incredible, unobstructed view of the city when you hitch a ride on the Duquesne Incline, a century-old cable car. A round-trip ticket is only $5. Get back on ground level and visit the Mattress Factory, a contemporary art museum. Don’t miss the Andy Warhol Museum, either (yes, he was raised in the Steel City!).

5. Boston

(5.5 hours from Wilmington by train)

If you’re up for a little more of a road trip, consider making the journey to the site of the Boston Tea Party. Fourth of July events include a flag raising ceremony and parade starting at 9 a.m., followed by a reading of the Declaration of Independence at the Old State House at 10 a.m. Finally, fireworks will begin around 8:30 p.m. along the Charles River.

Places to stay:

Restaurants to try:

  • Bukowski Tavern: A bar for beer lovers—there are more than 100 choices.  50 Dalton St., (617) 437-9999
  • Ristorante Limoncello: Located in Boston’s famed North End, this family-fun restaurant is also just a few doors down from the Paul Revere House. • 190 North St., (617) 523-4480

Other attractions: If you’re sticking with the historical theme, try the Freedom Trail, which covers almost three miles of downtown Boston and features 16 landmarks, including the Boston Common, the site of the Boston Massacre. If you’re looking for a more relaxed day, the New England Aquarium is home to thousands of marine animals with diverse habitats.

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