Fireworks Ban? Try These Fourth Of July Alternatives

fireworks ban
Ming Xia, Flickr

With fireworks bans in place across parts of the Western U.S., it’s going to be another Fourth of July calling for alternative celebratory activities. In Colorado, where I live, we’ve learned to accept this fact, and it doesn’t stop the outdoor revelry.

Picnics and parades are standard July fourth fare, anyway, so if you happen to live in a place suffering from drought or plagued by wildfires, don’t let the lack of fireworks get you down. Instead, find a spark-free way to celebrate our nation’s birth (it also makes for a nice tribute to those victimized by said wildfires). Some suggestions:

Open flame isn’t required for a successful barbecue; use a gas grill instead.

Gather a group for a moonlight hike (this is also a good idea with regard to personal and wildlife safety). Sunset city walks are also fun; end your stroll at a wine bar or brew pub.

Get on the water. Find your nearest reservoir, lake or river, and spend the holiday appreciating this precious resource.

Ride a bike. In Boulder, where I live, Awe-struck Outdoors offers activities like creekside rides that include a bike-to-farm dinner. Get inspired, and organize your own holiday ride.

5 Alternatives To Fireworks This (Very Dry) Fourth of July

wildfireIt’s hard to imagine the Fourth of July without fireworks, but for drought- and fire-stricken regions like Colorado, that’s the way it’s going to be this year. If you happen to be living or traveling in a no-fireworks zone, don’t despair. There are still ways to celebrate our nation’s birth without setting it ablaze.

Since I’m in Colorado right now, I brainstormed with a group of rangers at Boulder’s Chautauqua Park (which is adjacent to the now 90%-contained Flagstaff Mountain blaze). Our ideas, below:

1. Organize a block party

2. Go to a laser show (or hold your own; those PowerPoint things are for more than just entertaining cats)

3. Have a picnic or barbecue and stargaze

4. Go to a concert in a park or other outdoor venue

5. Go camping, minus the open fire

[Photo credit: Flickr user H Dragon]

The Stop, Drop and Role Technique for Fire Safety

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

OpenTable Diners’ Choice winners for American grub

Once your barbeque is finished and you’ve cleaned up the long, you’ll probably want to leave the house for your next meal. You’ve done your share of cooking and coped with the mess. When you’re looking for a restaurant to make your life easier tomorrow, check out OpenTable‘s list of top shops for Best American Cuisine. The winners come from 2.5 million OpenTable user reviews of more than 9,000 restaurants. And, since these are quintessentially American restaurants, you’ll extend your celebration of independence by an extra day.

Since all this is so close to July 1, you can also use it as a way to stretch Canada Day a bit. The food really isn’t any different anyway, except for a few moose dishes, I suspect.

Caroline Potter, billed as OpenTable’s dining expert, calls this “a great time to be an aficionado of American cuisine. From a melting pot of culinary influences, today’s chefs have created a cuisine that is truly our nation’s own.”

So, ready a long list of restaurants that will blow your independence-oriented mind? Look for them after the jump.

I was surprised by how few states are represented. There are 53 restaurant winners on the list, but only from 22 states. I guess Montana, Idaho and oregon don’t have much to offer … though I doubt that’s true. There are some fantastic restaurants in New Hampshire, but none made the cut. So, take this list with a grain of salt. After all, nine of the winners are the Capital Grille.

New York and California, unsurprisingly, led the way, each occupying 11 percent of the results, though neither was able to top the Capital Grille’s 17 percent. Missouri, Colorado and Maryland followed with nearly 8 percent each.

The 2009 Winners of OpenTable’s Best American Cuisine Awards

• Abacus – Dallas, TX
• Aria – Atlanta, GA
• Blue Hill – New York, NY
• Blue Hill at Stone Barns – Pocantico Hills, NY
• Bluestem – Kansas City, MO
• Café Trio – Kansas City, MO
• Capital Grille, Atlanta – Atlanta, GA
• Capital Grille, Boston – Boston, MA
• Capital Grille, Chicago – Chicago, IL
• Capital Grille, Denver – Denver, CO
• Capital Grille, Kansas City – Kansas City, MO
• Capital Grille, Lombard – Lombard, IL
• Capital Grille, Minneapolis – Minneapolis, MN
• Capital Grille, Orlando – Orlando, FL
• Capital Grille, Tampa – Tampa, FL
• Charleston – Baltimore, MD
• Charleston Grill – Charleston, SC
• Cheevers Cafe – Oklahoma City, OK
• Chez Betty – Park City, UT
• Dal Rae – Pico Rivera, CA
• David Drake – Rahway, NJ
• Eddie Merlot’s, Fort Wayne – Fort Wayne, IN
• Eddie Merlot’s, Indianapolis – Indianapolis, IN
• ELEVEN – Pittsburgh, PA
• Eleven Madison Park – New York, NY
• Fearing’s – Dallas, TX
• Flagstaff House – Boulder, CO
• Gayle – Philadelphia, PA
• Gramercy Tavern – New York, NY
• Lahaina Grill – Maui, HI
• LJ’s and the Kat Lounge – Hagerstown, MD
• Lola, A Michael Symon Restaurant – Cleveland, OH
• MICHAEL MINA – San Francisco, CA
• Mulvaney’s B&L – Sacramento, CA
• Murray’s Restaurant & Cocktail Lounge – Minneapolis, MN
• Niche – St. Louis, MO
• Paseo Grill – Oklahoma, OK
• Per Se – New York, NY
• Providence – Los Angeles, CA
• Sweet Basil – Vail, CO
• The Dining Room at The Langham Pasadena – Pasadena, CA
• The French Laundry – Yountville, CA
• The Prime Rib, Baltimore – Baltimore, MD
• The Schoolhouse at Cannondale – Wilton, CT
• Tilth – Seattle, WA
• Tristan, Charleston – Charleston, SC
• Vie – Western Springs, IL
• Vintage Tavern – Suffolk, VA
• VOLT – Frederick, MD
• White Barn Inn – Kennebunk Beach, ME