PHILADELPHIA, PA

Ever since the first anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in 1777, Philadelphia has marked the day with fireworks, starting the tradition that has grown nationwide over the past 241 years. Today, the city — birthplace of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution — goes all out to celebrate the Fourth with a week of free concerts, parades, outdoor movies, patriotic ceremonies and block parties, culminating in fireworks over the Delaware River.

The Gables Bed & Breakfast Philadelphia

The Gables Bed & Breakfast Philadelphia

The award-winning Gables claims an enviable spot in University City, a quiet residential area of Victorian homes and Edwardian townhouses. The restored Victorian mansion is close to several major universities and conveniently located just minutes from Center City Philadelphia via the trolley that stops right in front of the house.

A large wraparound porch filled with wicker furniture and potted ferns welcomes guests to a home overflowing with 19th- and early-20th-century antiques. Guests congregate for happy hour and relaxed conversation in the two parlors, one with a piano and one with an organ.

The Gables Bed & Breakfast Philadelphia

Ten elegant guest rooms — some with gas fireplaces, turrets and cozy nooks — boast four-poster or brass beds, carved armoires, ornate rockers and Oriental rugs. There are plenty of special touches such as embroidered and lace-trimmed sheets — ironed and starched for crispness — plus thick terry cloth robes and antique quilts or down comforters. But you can also expect cable TV, VCR, CD player and WiFi, too.

There’s no skimping on breakfast, which can be anything from goat cheese omelets to eggs Benedict, along with breakfast pastries, cereal and fresh fruit. A pantry is stocked with complimentary coffee, wine, beer, soda and snacks, and fresh homemade cookies show up daily.

After a full day of July 4th festivities, relax on the comfy front porch and watch the world go by.

 


 

BOSTON, MA

Boston’s Revolutionary War heritage — from Paul Revere’s house to the Freedom Trail — makes it an ideal place to celebrate America’s Independence. It’s no wonder that Boston Harborfest is the largest Independence Day festival in the country, celebrating the city’s colonial past with entertainers, historical reenactments, music, harbor cruises, walking tours and more. Capping it off are the July 4th fireworks, launched from seven barges in the middle of the Charles River, and the famous Boston Pops concert with its dramatic finale: Tchaikovsky's explosive 1812 Overture as cannon fire and church bells ring throughout the city.

Clarendon Square Bed & Breakfast

Clarendon Square Bed & Breakfast

Stay in the historic South End at the Clarendon Square Bed & Breakfast, on a quiet leafy street of 19th-century townhouses. This walkable neighborhood, dotted with stylish restaurants and high-end shops in downtown Boston, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the largest Victorian brick row-house district in the U.S.

The six-story house, built in 1867, has been beautifully renovated to preserve the original ceiling medallions, moldings and doors. To maintain the historic feel, no elevator was installed, but the staff will happily haul your luggage up multiple flights of stairs. The inn is tastefully furnished with an eclectic mix of period and modern pieces. Public spaces include a dining room for breakfast and afternoon tea, a library and a parlor with a baby grand piano. A garden terrace offers a lovely outdoor space, perfect for continental breakfast on mild spring and autumn days and all summer long.

Clarendon Square Bed & Breakfast

Seven guest rooms boast marble fireplaces, crystal chandeliers, designer fabrics and Frette linens and bathrobes, in addition to the latest technology. One guest room even has a private outdoor bamboo garden. Bathrooms feature limestone and marble, and some have heated floors. Personal touches include cookies in the room and fresh flowers in the bathroom.

But the pièce de résistance is a spectacular rooftop terrace and hot tub, idyllic for watching the sunset over the Boston skyline. You might even be able to see the fireworks from the terrace — a perfect ending to a memorable Independence Day.

 


 

WASHINGTON, D.C.

It’s hard to compete with our nation’s capital for patriotic fervor on the Fourth of July. Few places hold a candle to fireworks on the National Mall, framed by the iconic U.S. Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial. Wave the stars and stripes at the National Independence Day Parade and enjoy a star-studded concert on the steps of the Capitol. Honor the Founding Fathers at the National Archives, which displays original copies of the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and attend a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence by costumed re-enactors portraying Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and George Washington.

Embassy Circle Guest House

Embassy Circle Guest House

Want to soak in authentic Washington flavor? Stay at the Embassy Circle Guest House in the heart of the stylish Embassy Row neighborhood. In fact, this lovingly restored Federalist mansion was the former Taiwanese embassy, and it perfectly sets the mood for an Independence Day getaway.

Built in 1902, the three-story grand dame boasts elaborate crown moldings, wainscoting, stunning Murano chandeliers and columned archways. Eleven rooms are tastefully furnished with antiques, comfortable four-poster beds and original artwork. Each room is named for the antique Persian carpet covering its floor: Ivory Esfahan, Rose Tabriz, Red Kashan. Some have exposed brick walls; others, fireplaces. A harmonious balance of modern comforts and traditional elegance, it features fully updated bathrooms with Gilchrist & Soames toiletries and free WiFi.

Embassy Circle Guest House

Each evening, innkeepers Laura and Raymond Saba host a happy hour that is part cultural salon and part book club, for which Beirut-born Raymond occasionally prepares Lebanese hors d’oeuvres. Conversation is predictably lively among the largely international clientele. In the morning, Laura turns breakfast into another social occasion over scrumptious homemade granola, fruit salad, yogurt, brioche French toast, breakfast cakes, cheeses, smoked salmon and eggs. The perfect way to tank up for your day on the Mall.

 


 

WILLIAMSBURG, VA

Time travel back to the nation’s colonial roots for a special Independence Day celebration. In addition to fireworks in Colonial Williamsburg and Historic Yorktown, take in patriotic reenactments of historical events. Listen to a reading of the Declaration of Independence at the courthouse, watch the Williamsburg Fifes and Drums with musket and cannon salutes, play 18th-century games on the Palace Green and observe military drills and the Liberty Bell ringing ceremony at Riverwalk Landing in Yorktown. There’s plenty of star-spangled fun for everyone.

Cedars of Williamsburg Bed & Breakfast

Cedars of Williamsburg Bed & Breakfast

There’s no better way to immerse yourself in the colonial ambiance of Williamsburg than with a stay at this inn. The largest B&B in Williamsburg, Cedars has been welcoming guests since 1935. Just a 10-minute walk from Colonial Williamsburg and across the street from the historic College of William & Mary, the three-story brick Georgian house exudes traditional 18th-century elegance. A charming brick patio and gazebo, tucked in a wooded area, make for a popular wedding spot.

Fireplaces, four-poster beds, armoires and authentic period furniture evoke the time when Williamsburg played a pivotal role in our nation’s early history. Its nine main-house rooms and a two-room cottage are named for seminal figures of that period: Martha Washington, George Washington, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, John Rolfe, Rebecca Rolfe (aka, Pocahontas), King William and Queen Mary.

Cedars of Williamsburg Bed & Breakfast

Innkeeper Alex Vlk easily shares his passion for history over tasty breakfasts served on the porch at individual tables for two. Locally and seasonally sourced, they might feature the signature dish of caramelized French raisin toast served on a bed of caramel with warm Virginia maple syrup. Surely the early colonists never had it this good.

 


 

NEW ORLEANS, LA

Why settle for one when you can have two? That’s two simultaneous fireworks shows from dueling barges on the Mississippi River, each discharging a spectacular array of lights and sounds synchronized to patriotic music. You can catch the Go Fourth on the River extravaganza from multiple waterfront locations or aboard special fireworks cruises. Isn’t it just like New Orleans to double the showmanship for the Fourth?

Terrell House

Terrell House

If you like graceful mansions, 14-foot ceilings and period antiques, then Terrell House is for you. This restored 1857 Italianate manor in the quiet Lower Garden District just oozes historic style and charm: marble fireplaces, French crystal chandeliers, Oriental rugs, original ceiling moldings and heavy silk drapes luxuriously pooling on the wide-plank hardwood floors.

Small details go a long way toward setting the tone: scented candles in the public rooms, blooming orchids everywhere and lots of original artwork. The three-story manse and two auxiliary buildings have 16 spacious rooms in all, beautifully appointed with antique furnishings, high-end bed linens and plush robes and updated bathrooms with Oliva Farmacia toiletries. Modern amenities include microwaves, coffee makers and mini-fridges supplied with complimentary bottled water, sodas and real half & half.

Terrell House

Breakfast is a throwback to the age of elegance, served on a long communal table set with fine china, ornate silver cutlery and crisp white linen napkins and placemats. It might feature broccoli Portobello strata, sausage and roasted grape tomato frittata, blueberry pancakes or crème brûlée French toast. In a nod to the South, hot sauce is always on the table.

In keeping with New Orleans architecture, rooms feature porches, galleries and ornate cast-iron balconies. Most overlook a lovely brick courtyard wrapped in lush vegetation, where you can linger while listening to the burbling fountains — the perfect ending to an evening of fireworks drama.

 

 

 

-Veronica Stoddart