Best Places to Celebrate the Fourth of July

WalletHub recently released their findings for the best places to celebrate Fourth of July this year. Independence Day is one of the biggest holidays of the year in the US featuring parades, cookouts, and fireworks shows. WalletHub compared the 100 largest U.S. cities based on how well they balance holiday cost and fun, using a data set of 18 key metrics ranges from average beer and wine prices to duration of fireworks shows to the weather forecast.

American flags hang from Union Station in Washington, DC by Caleb Fisher – Unsplash

New York City was the #3 overall best place to celebrate this year, thanks to high rankings in the Celebrations (#2), Activities & Attractions (#2), and Safety (#3) categories. Nonetheless, it is one of the least affordable, so unless you plan a day trip, celebrating in the Big Apple is going to cost a lot.

Equally expensive is a celebration in Washington, DC, which came in at the number 11 spot overall. However, a trip to the capital is an incredibly appropriate way to spend the day celebrating our nation’s independence. For history lovers, the extra splurge may be worth it; the capital city ranked high in both the Celebration and Activities & Attractions categories.

San Antonio, Texas by Henry Becerra – Unsplash

Several Texan towns stood out in WalletHub’s data. Dallas (#8), San Antonio (#9), Houston (#15), and Austin (#21) all ranked high overall. Dallas came in with the fourth best celebrations and Houston was the second most affordable, with the third lowest average prices for 3-star hotels.

Laredo, Texas also stood out in several of the individual categories. It has the fifth lowest average prices for beer and wine, fifth cheapest 3-star hotels, and was the fifth overall most affordable place to celebrate.

Las Vegas ranked fourth overall but came out on top in several of the individual metrics, including best weather forecast, fewest DUI-related fatalities, and cheapest 3-star hotels. It also ranked first in the Affordability category. It had strong showings in the Celebrations and Activities & Attractions categories as well—which should come as no surprise, since Vegas knows how to throw a party. It’s also relatively safe and there are many good deals on flights to and from the city.

Fireworks on a beach in California by Diogo Fagundes – Unsplash

Los Angeles was ranked the best place to celebrate the Fourth of July, with San Francisco coming in at second place. Los Angeles also came out on top in the Celebrations category, and San Francisco ranked #1 in the Activities & Attractions category and tied for the best weather forecast for July 4th. San Diego also had an impressive showing at the #7 spot.

Unfortunately, all three of these cities faired poorly in the Affordability category. If you’re looking for an affordable option in California, though, San Jose is a good choice. It comes in at a respectable 17th place overall, but is ranked 10th most affordable. Fresno also has the lowest average prices for beer and wine, which equals big savings if you plan to host a gathering with friends or relatives.

No matter the city, though, Americans are reconsidering how they will budget travel plans. According to WalletHub’s analysis, Americans plan to spend $9.5 billion this year on food for their Independence Day celebrations—this includes roughly 150 million hot dogs—and an additional $3 billion on beer and wine. About $2.7 billion will be spent on fireworks.

The Vacationeer recently polled Americans about their Fourth of July plans and how inflation was affecting them. Even though nearly 40% of respondents planned to do nothing at all, compared to last year’s survey there was a 5% increase in the number of people planning to travel. That being said, WalletHub found that 62% plan to spend less money compared to last year and The Vacationeer found that 64% of those surveyed say their plans have been affected by inflation.

“Unfortunately, only 63% of Americans feel financially independent this 4th of July. Although that is a step up from the 56% who felt financially independent last year, there is still a significant portion of the population lacking financial freedom,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “The country has recovered from a lot of the financial damage done by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially when it comes to employment, but high inflation and the potential of a recession have continued to make life difficult for many Americans.”

Mark Z. Meng, an associate professor at Indiana University’s School of Business, suggests some money-saving tips for the holiday: “Think about some big money items during travel. Lodging: where you stay can make a huge difference, including whether it is close to a downtown area, brand name, and star level, duration of your stay, additional service requests, etc. Transportation: when you book the airline ticket and through where you book it can also make a difference in terms of price; normally I would suggest people book their tickets early if they can; last-minute booking tends to be pricy most likely. Many travelers often find out red-eye flights cheaper, but you need to be careful about whether it is feasible for your schedule and personal condition. Even if you are on a road trip driving your own vehicle, preplan your parking can save you some money. There is plenty of parking space finding APPs where they offer a huge discount if you reserve it in advance, especially in some dense urban areas. Event and entertainment: normally during such holidays, many destination communities organize and offer some free events open to the public; take advantage of those.”

—For the full rankings and data, visit WalletHub’s report here.

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