Lonely Planet Writer

Fireworks and flag cake

fireworksAmerican Independence Day, the 4th of July, is rapidly approaching, so if you're in the US or celebrating elsewhere around the world, it's time to lock in your plans for fireworks, parades, and backyard barbecues. The holiday weekend is also a popular excuse to get away for a few days, so accommodations at popular tourist destinations around the country away from the major celebrations like Yosemite National Park generally book up long in advance.

[Photo: 4th of July in Washington, DC - by Pak Gwei]

Several Lonely Planet community members have been discussing their 4th of July travel plans on the US branch of the Thorn Tree forum. One member is planning a 4th of July trip to Washington, DC and wants to know how crowded the National Mall will be. Another Thorn Tree user is trying to decide between Boston or Philadelphia for their 4th of July getaway. Several thousand miles away, a family of four is planning to stop in Seward, Alaska for the 4th of July parade on their road trip, and got advice on where to find the action from the Alaska experts on Thorn Tree.

The Statue of Liberty's crown is reopening to the public on the 4th after being closed since 2001, but demand is so high that tickets are already sold out for the next two months (you can reserve tickets up to a year in advance, so book now). If you're not one of the lucky few to get a peek inside Lady Liberty's head on opening day, you can at least go enjoy the fireworks along the river. Unlike recent years where the fireworks were along the East River, the fireworks will be over the Hudson River this year to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's 1609 exploration of the river. If you're looking for a clear view like others are on Thorn Tree, head to the recommended spots along the river, paddle out on your kayak, or get up on the roof.

rebild_bakkerYou don't have to be in the US to take part in the 4th of July festivities (although it does increase your odds of finding a parade). Did you know that thousands celebrate the 4th of July each year in Denmark? The property that is now Rebild Bakker National Park, Denmark's only national park, was donated to the Danish state in 1912 by Danish-Americans under the conditions that it would be kept in its natural state, remain open to all visitors, and that Danish-Americans would be able to celebrate American holidays there. Starting in 1912 the annual Rebild Festival has been celebrated at the park, the largest 4th of July celebration outside of the US.

[Photo: Lincoln's log cabin at Rebild Bakker National Park - by sunnyUK]

flag_cakeIt's often a scorcher on the 4th, so if you're looking to cool down make sure you check out our handy map to the best ice cream shops in the US. Speaking of dessert, if you've been put in charge of bringing a 4th-of-July-themed dessert to a barbecue and you've already done the flag cake, here's some sweet inspiration from our resident foodies.

[Photo: Homemade American flag cake - by arkitekt2]

Whether you're in the US, Denmark, or at a small expat party in Costa Rica, let us know your plans - and if you make a flag cake, send us a picture.