It’s a general consensus that a proper Fourth of July celebration is spent with lakeside views, preferably lounging on warm, white sand. The exception, of course, is spending the day appreciating our country’s open spaces and preserved wilderness. If you’re making holiday plans, consider these lakes and the endearing small towns nearby.
Lake Tahoe, California
Where: South Lake Tahoe Recreation Area
South Lake Tahoe’s annual Lights on the Lake festival enchants natives and newcomers alike with dramatic firework views from friendly beaches, limpid mountain peaks, and lake centers. The South Lake Tahoe Recreation Area is the premier place for family picnics and stargazing before the show, while the more adventurous can hike to the top of Mount Tallac for an undisturbed, bird’s eye view. The region offers daytime biking, hiking, and swimming opportunities for a kosher, off-the-grid celebration of our nation’s parturition.
Grand Lake, Colorado
Where: Point Park, The Beach at Grand Lake
Kick it in the heart of the Rockies this Independence Day at Grand Lake. Colorado’s largest natural lake presents an impressive display of pyrotechnics and a full weekend of free festivals. Fireworks rise more than 7,500 feet above reflective turquoise waters. The city of Grand Lake celebrates with pancake breakfasts, fundraisers, small-town rodeos, fishing derbies, barbecues, and a renowned Fourth of July Parade. Spend the weekend hiking Rocky Mountain National Park and Shadow Mountain National Recreation Area before spending the evening in town, celebrating freedom with a drink from Grumpy’s Saloon.
Lake Michigan, Ludington, Michigan
Where: Ludington State Park
Western Michigan is known for its alabaster-colored dunes, expansive grassy knolls, and far-removed lake atmosphere. Ludington is the epicenter of all of this plus something extra for tourists. The city’s Freedom Festival includes the Grand Parade during the day and a lengthy firework show to top off a spectral weekend in the sand. The city of Ludington is a cultural hub for local artists and galleries, and art makes a great memento for those looking to support the local economy and take home a piece of Michigan.
Flathead Lake, Montana
Where: City Beach in Whitefish
Just south of Glacier National Park in northwestern Montana is the city of Kalispell and the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi, Flathead Lake. During Fourth of July weekend, the city hosts a number of parades, ice cream socials, barbecues, and community dances. If you make the trek up north, though, your time is better spent hiking and swimming in the wilderness center of the United States. Views of Flathead fireworks are best seen from City Beach in Whitefish, on a paddleboat on the lake itself, or from the impressive Casey’s Sky Bar.
Lake Champlain, New York
Where: Bicentennial Park in Ticonderoga
Lake Champlain rests on the eastern edge of the Adirondacks between New York and Vermont. The woodsy composure of the lake and the towns on its banks offer a Fourth of July like no other. The town of Ticonderoga hosts a marathon in the morning, and an all-day “Best 4th in the North” festival including parades, food, and live country music before a fireworks display at dusk in Bicentennial Park.