Ah, Philadelphia. While it’s long enjoyed the nickname of “The Birthplace of America”—heck, it’s where the Founding Fathers signed the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence—this city also knows how to party. When you put together America’s penchant for setting off explosives when we get excited (fireworks, anyone?) and Philadelphia’s deep love of its own history, you’ve got the perfect place to celebrate the Fourth of July.
Not surprisingly, Philly goes all out for this particular holiday. Since July 4th is right around the corner, we’ve rounded up a list of some of the places you’ve got to hit before the fireworks start.
Philadelphia-Camden Tall Ships Festival
The week leading up to the Fourth of July is filled with exciting and patriotic activities. Chief among these is the Tall Ships Festival, where over a dozen sailing ships of varying size fill the Delaware River. The Tall Ships Festival 2015, which runs from June 25-28, features L’Hermione, a replica of a Revolutionary War frigate. There are several ticket tiers available for the festival; the base price allows you to board and tour all 19 of the ships, while higher-priced versions include a trip out to sea on one of the vessels.
Pro Tip: If you aren’t sure you get seasick—really, how many of us get to head out to sea in a genuine tall ship, so how would we know?—maybe pop an anti-nausea pill beforehand. No one’s going to like the cut of your jib if you’re leaving your breakfast all over the starboard side.
Independence Day Parade
Is there a better way to celebrate our legendary revolt than by watching a parade through the Historic District? The 2015 Independence Day Parade, which includes thousands of participants and numerous bands, floats, and cars, begins at 5th and Chestnut Streets and makes its way to Front and Chestnut. In short, parade route covers a 1.2-mile rectangle in the Historic District, and passes in front of Independence Hall. This, by the way, is the place where centuries ago, the Founding Fathers did not allow Benjamin Franklin to write the Declaration of Independence out of fear that he’d sneak in some inappropriate jokes.
He did sign it in the building, though.
Party on the Parkway
Speaking of Old Ben, head on over to the street named after him: Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Several blocks of the parkway are closed to cars and opened up to foot traffic. The shindig gets underway at around noon, and believe us, if you plant yourself here early, you’ll never want to leave. Food vendors set up shops and trucks—Philly cheese steak and a cold beer, anyone?—and you’ll find plenty of things to do. Listen to bands on several stages, get into arts and crafts, and even play some games.
Starting at around 7 p.m., “The Largest Free Concert in America” kicks off, and this year The Roots will be playing for the masses. Later in the evening, attendees will be treated to a fantastic fireworks show.
Technically, the festivities end at midnight, but Fourth of July only rolls around once a year. There’s bound to be plenty of after parties to attend. Just make sure you drive carefully.