Swap the burnt marshmallows and parades for hiking boots and scenic views this 4th of July weekend. 

The fourth of July might usually be about the four ‘F’s’ – family, food, fun, and fireworks – but it’s about time a ‘T’ was added into the mix: travel. We think there’s no better way to celebrate the freedom of the United States and its citizens than by getting out there and exploring its extraordinary national parks, wandering its bustling cities, learning about its fascinating culture, and eating its delicious food. From hiking in Yosemite and raising a glass on Beale Street as part of our Best of the South: Louisville to New Orleans tour to marveling at the local Native American art and culture in New Mexico and digging into the culinary scene on our Washington to New York Discovery, spend your long weekend on an American adventure you’ll never forget. 

Our United States tours departing in June/July

Things to do on the 4th of July 

A group of travellers standing in The Narrows of Zion National Park in Utah.

Hike your way through a national park

Whether you’ve always wanted to squeeze through The Narrows in Zion National Park, cycle to the top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park or watch the Old Faithful geyser at Yellowstone National Park as it erupts, nothing says ‘freedom’ like getting out and about in the great outdoors. With trips to suit all fitness levels and abilities, gather the family for a memorable American experience like no other. 

An American flag themed lifeguard tower on a Los Angeles beach

Escape the summer heat by taking a dip

When it’s the middle of summer, there’s nothing better than seeking out the water (especially if you have a whole long weekend to enjoy it). Celebrate your 4th of July beachside by going for a swim at one of Los Angeles' best beaches, building an epic sandcastle (equipped with a mini American flag), or gathering around a bonfire when the sun slips below the horizon to make s’mores and swap stories. 

Two musicians performing on Bourbon Street in New Orleans.

Wander through vibrant cities

From the up, down, and zigzagging streets of San Francisco to the ones full of jazz musicians and French architecture in New Orleans, a city is one of the best places to be on Independence Day. Not only can you soak up the electric atmosphere from those around you, but you can also slip into a secluded bar, marvel at a passing-by parade, sit down at a stomach-filling restaurant, and watch exploding fireworks compete with the twinkling lights of city buildings. 

A traditional Southern BBQ meal including pickles, ribs, and mac 'n' cheese

Eat some fantastic local cuisine

Any form of celebration isn’t complete without some good food to accompany it whether that’s barbecued meat shared among the family at home or at a welcome dinner on one of our trips. Whether you want to sink your teeth into Southern-style cuisine (think baby back ribs and crumbly cornbread), satisfy your tastebuds with a lobster roll in Maine, or chow down a traditional clambake dish in Boston, you’re bound to find a trip that’ll satisfy your cravings. 

What is the meaning behind the 4th of July? 

Independence Day celebrated on the 4th of July, commemorates the day the United States declared independence from England way back in 1776. Originally voted in favor of independence by the Continental Congress on the 2nd of July, the actual declaration wasn’t signed by the 56 delegates (representing the 13 colonies) until 2 days later on what is now recognized as the official day for celebration. 

Why is the 4th of July a day for celebration? 

The 4th of July remains a day for celebration because of what it represents; the rise of freedom and liberty in the United States. Once separated from English rule, the colonists were able to have absolute independence, granting rights back to American citizens. Pressures felt by restrictive trade, tax, and frontier policies were eased and congress was now able to vote on laws, create their own policies, and start building their ideal nation. 

When did we start celebrating the 4th of July? 

Initially modelled after the King’s own birthday celebrations, early festivities of the day included bell ringing, bonfires, processions, and public speaking, however, the first few days of independence in 1776 were seen as somber and quite funeral-like to symbolize the ‘death’ of the King and the end of the monarchy and tyranny in the United States. The celebration as we now know it today has evolved over the centuries, alongside the shifting lifestyles of Americans, to become a day to spend time with friends and family over a bonfire or a BBQ. 

What do Americans typically do on the 4th of July? 

It’s thought to have been John Adams’ letter to his wife after the Declaration of Independence was signed that began the tradition of celebrating the day with “pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports……bells, bonfires, and illuminations”. Over the centuries, it has not only been a day to revel in the freedom fought for but to also gather with friends and family in a celebratory setting, whether that’s at home around a BBQ or watching fireworks light up the night sky from a local park.

Wearing American flag-themed clothing and accessories is also very popular, as well as displaying the American flag from houses, storefronts, schools, etc. As the 4th of July falls during summer, going to the beach or lake is very popular as groups can reunite and relax while cooling off. 

United States FAQs

What to pack for your trip in the United States largely depends on what kind of trip you're going on. If it's more of an active trip then packing things like comfortable walking shoes, a day bag/backpack (for your reusable drink bottle and snacks), lightweight clothing, and sunscreen are all essentials. Be sure to pack your camera, portable chargers, extra batteries, a hat, and other appropriate clothing items (swimwear, etc) so your trip is a stress-free one.

Learn more about what to pack for the United States

Trips on or before 31 December 2022

If your Intrepid trip starts on or before 31 December 2022, you must provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19.

If you are unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons, you may apply for an exemption. Exemptions will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. To apply, you must provide a medical certificate from a medical professional. 

Children under 18 are exempt. Children aged between 5 and 17 years old must provide proof of either vaccination, recovery or a negative COVID-19 test.

Trips from 1 January 2023 onwards

From 1 January 2023, Intrepid will no longer require travellers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 (excluding all Polar trips and select adventure cruises).

However, we continue to strongly recommend that all Intrepid travellers and leaders get vaccinated to protect themselves and others.

Specific proof of testing or vaccination may still be required by your destination or airline. Please ensure you check travel and entry requirements carefully.

Learn more about Intrepid’s COVID-19 policy

Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. We’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.

Our United States tour reviews 

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