Fireworks Ban? Try These Fourth Of July Alternatives

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.

London Underground strike brings chaos

Londoners found themselves walking or taking crowded buses today as a strike continued on the London Underground, popularly known as “The Tube.”

The strike started just after evening rush hour Tuesday at 6:59 pm and will last 48 hours. Not all lines have been affected, but most have been and the remaining lines are filled to capacity. For up-to-date information, check Transport for London’s website.

This is just one of numerous strikes in recent years as the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union fights a longstanding battle for better pay and job security. Both sides in the dispute point the finger of blame at the other, but London mayor Boris Johnson insists they are close to an agreement.

Extra buses have been ordered, but traffic is heavy and travelers should expect delays. BBC has written a handy guide to getting around during the strike. The best option for visitors would be to walk, which is the best way to see London anyway. Here are five areas that make for an enjoyable stroll.

Bloomsbury. Lush parks and long lines of Georgian houses make this one of the most scenic areas in London. Exhibits at the British Library and the British Museum provide interesting places to hide from England’s nasty rains.

The City. The financial heart of London includes some of its oldest buildings, as well as remains of the Roman city wall. The Museum of London makes for a good stop, as do the many pubs.

Mayfair. Lots of high-end shops and fancy homes here, as well as Hyde Park on its western boundary. Good for cafe culture, fine dining, and generally pretending you’re a millionaire.

Westminster and Trafalgar Square. The Houses of Parliament and a short walk to Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery are the big draws here, but also stop by the often-overlooked St. Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square, a beautiful church with an inexpensive cafe in the crypt.

Islington. An up-and-coming neighborhood with lots of bars, clubs, and international restaurant. Check out Islington High St. for nightlife, and Caledonian Rd. for Ethiopian restaurants.