Celebrate July Fourth On The National Mall

Fireworks over the National MallIf you’re looking for a unique and fun way to celebrate Independence Day today, and you’re fortunate enough to live close to Washington D.C., you may want to drop by the National Mall to take part in the annual festivities. The iconic monuments and memorials that make up the Mall should make for an inspiring backdrop to a full day of events.

Among the more memorable attractions on the National Mall are the Washington Monument and the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials. The three presidents to which those sites are dedicated all played a vital role in forging the U.S. as a nation and today they will each be remembered for their leadership.

Activities on the Mall begin with a parade along Constitution Avenue that gets underway at 11:45 a.m. and runs through 2 p.m. Following the parade a group of park rangers will gather at the Jefferson Memorial where they’ll present a portrayal of life in America circa 1776. The nearby Sylvan Theater will play host to activities for the Junior Rangers from 3-8:30 p.m. and a live concert featuring the U.S. Army Band will begin at 6 p.m. Each of these activities will help set the stage for the impressive fireworks display that will take place between 9:10-9:30 p.m.

Directions to the Mall can be found on the NPS website and visitors are encouraged to arrive early. There are no entrance fees to any of the events or monuments and it is sure to be both a fun and educational way to celebrate the occasion.

Happy Independence Day!

[Photo credit: Leafsfan67 via WikiMedia]

Seattle Culinary Camp With Chef Tom Douglas Offers A Taste Of Washington State

seattle cooking classesIt’s a well-known fact amongst Seattleites that the sun always comes out for the summer starting on July 4. OK, that wasn’t true two years ago but on July 5, there it was. Anyway, it’s the official start of our summer and that means it’s also the start of the eating season. For farmers market goers and lovers of the grill and al fresco dining, July is kickoff time.

Perhaps that’s why Tom Douglas, the modern father of Pacific Northwest cooking (the late James Beard being the true granddaddy of PNW cuisine), chose July for his annual Culinary Camp. The award winning chef and restaurateur behind such Seattle landmarks as Dahlia Lounge, Palace Kitchen, Lola and Serious Pie has held a five-day culinary immersion program every July for the past six years.

Locals and visitors alike will get a taste of local ingredients such as geoduck clams, Dungeness crab, blueberries, salmon, wild mushrooms and cheese in hands-on cooking classes as well as demonstrations and tastings from Douglas – currently a finalist for the James Beard Outstanding Restaurateur of the Year award.

Additional educational opportunities will be available from other respected Seattle food and drink authorities; in the past, these have included Matt Dillon of Sitka & Spruce and The Corson Building, Mark Fuller of Spring Hill/Ma’ono, and Maria Hines of Tilth and The Golden Beetle. Former visiting experts have included acclaimed chef Nancy Oakes and her husband, sausage king Bruce Aidells and noted food writers/cookbook authors Rose Levy Beranbaum and James Peterson.

This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the Space Needle, so citywide celebrations will make vitamin D-depleted Seattlites even more festive than usual. The Tom Douglas Culinary Camp will take place July 8-12 and tuition is $3,000. To learn more and reserve a spot, contact Robyn Wolfe at robynw@tomdouglas.com.

[Flickr Photo via cbcastro]

Top 5 Travel Attractions of Seattle, Washington

Folly Beach, South Carolina: The Country’s Greatest Fourth of July


This most recent Fourth of July, on a beach in South Carolina, a guy named Freddie handed me a beer after I took his photo in front of his American flag. He’d just done his best Iwo Jima pose, and as I tapped his email address into my phone, promising to send him the pictures very soon, he insisted I take a turn hoisting the stars and stripes. Road trip tip: Do whatever a beer-toting, banner-flying patriot asks on Independence Day and you’ll be handsomely rewarded.

Two months ago, I couldn’t have guessed where Folly Beach might be. Now, I’m singing its praises to anyone who will listen. I never thought I’d be planning my first trip to South Carolina, but after a short stay in Folly, I’m already thinking about my second.

Traveling the American Road – Folly Beach Fourth of July


The stay: I was staying at the Tides at Folly Beach, a converted Holiday Inn that enjoys an enviable position on the sand, right next to the fishing pier at the end of Center Street. Balconies look over the water. The beachfront bar bustles with activity as the sun goes down–a fantastic live act was jamming on July 4, and other combos are frequently on stage.

The crowd: These people are here to have a good time. That doesn’t mean getting sloppy drunk–though there’s some of that!–but rather that the crowds at Folly have a vacation mindset. Watches aren’t necessary, and what kind of appointment would you have anyway? Rita’s, an outstanding restaurant across the street from Tides, serves food all day, with the bar open until late. When that closes, head to Surf Bar, a pitch-perfectly themed spot just off Center Street that goes even later.

The vibe: On a scale of one to comatose, Folly is laid back, a step shy of vegetative, even after the morning’s hangover has worn off. No shirt? Not a problem. Barefoot treks to the breakfast food truck? Sure. Drinking a beer on the beach? Just keep it in a plastic cup. Riding motorcycles without helmets? Wait, how do you do it where you’re from?

The beach: It’s enormous, particularly at low tide. On what has to be one of the busiest weekends of the year, I had no problem finding a patch of sand not just for relaxing but for frisbee tossing. The one knock could be that the water approaches bathtub temperatures, but that’s actually a plus if you plan to spend all day swimming. (You should plan to spend all day swimming.)

The show: The night of July 4, I grabbed a bunch of sparklers and headed for the beach, where explosives experts were setting up the night’s show. The casualness about the fireworks was amazing, as families set up towels and beach chairs right below the blast zone. Before the official show started, we were surprised by random flashes and bangs, as people lit their BYO fireworks.

The departure: Perhaps the best thing about Folly is that it feels so removed from real life–while being just nine miles from Charleston, a city well worth seeing in its own right. That makes the beach accessible but at a small remove, a short drive that lets you mind decompress and switch into surf gear. A couple, fellow hotel guests, told me they could see the bridge back to the mainland from their room. That’s not a good thing, they said. It reminds them that the real world is just a few miles away.

Fireworks in Austin from July 4th, 2010

With Independence Day arriving tomorrow, many Texans are wondering just how to celebrate the 4th of July without fireworks. The sparkling display has been canceled this year due to the extreme drought in the area. I recently published a piece on Alternatives to Fireworks for those of you afflicted by firework-less regions. My favorite suggestion in the piece, cheesy as it may sound, was a fireworks film projected onto a wall. Some of my friends are having a BBQ tomorrow for the special day and I’m not kidding when I say: I totally plan on making everyone celebrate via the Austin fireworks show from last year’s July 4th.

Check out the video and honor the USA by way of YouTube video tomorrow if you have no other way to set off or see fireworks. And if you have seen or will be seeing fireworks for the holiday? Feel free to share your video link in the comments on this piece.

Tube, Mine, and Shell Fireworks

The Fourth of July in the Nation’s Capital


fourth of july washington dc


What better place to celebrate the Fourth of July than in our nation’s capital? Washington, DC offers a number of patriotic activities to celebrate Independence Day.

In addition to the slew of predictable sightseeing activities along the National Mall, the new President’s gallery at Madame Tussauds wax museum, visits to the White House, Capitol building and strolls along the Georgetown waterfront, there are a number of patriotic activities happening just for the holiday.

Don’t miss:

A Capitol Fourth
It’s not just any fireworks display – it’s A Capitol Fourth, DC’s biggest annual fireworks show and PBS spectacular. This free event features performances by the National Symphony Orchestra, plus a star-studded lineup including Steve Martin, Matthew Morrison, Jordin Sparks, Josh Groban and Little Richard. Our tip? For a less crowded experience, check out the trial run (minus the fireworks) on July 3.

[Flickr via JoshuaDavisPhotography]

The Uncle Sam Jam
Party with your fellow patriots and kick off the holiday weekend at the second annual Uncle Sam Jam July 2, featuring bands including Blind Melon and Pat McGee along the National Harbor waterfront. The popular party will include DC’s most popular food trucks, a lumberjack log roll and National Harbor’s own fireworks show. Tickets start at $40.

National Freedom Fest
Love music? Love freedom? That’s all it will take to attend the two-day National Freedom Fest at Yards Park. More than 40 bands and DJs of all varieties will take the stage during the two-day event. Tickets are $35 for a two-day pass.

Smithsonian Folklife Festival
The annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall, kicking off June 30, running through July 4 and again July 7-11. The 45th annual fest this year celebrates different themes each year. This year, expect exhibits dedicated to Colombia, Rhythm and Blues and the Peace Corps.

Boom With a View
It will cost you a pretty penny, but the W Hotel’s annual “Boom with a View” July 4th party lives up to expectations. The private rooftop overlooks the White House lawn. A $200 ticket (or $899 for an overnight and two tix) includes appetizers, an open bar from 6-9 PM, and a live DJ.

Experience 4th of July in Washington, DC