The July 4 holiday feels extra special in Philadelphia, where the country was officially founded. The holiday arrives with lots of fireworks-filled events, including the huge Wawa Welcome America over the Art Museum, along with some potentially not-so-legal fireworks shows throughout the city (we’ll tell you what to do about that).
Here, we have your guide whether you have kids in tow, want to hang out with friends, are keen to get out of town, or just want some fireworks in your holiday weekend.
Happy Independence Day, everyone.
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If you want to see fireworks:
After a year hiatus because of the pandemic, fireworks displays are back. Here are some big fireworks happening from the shore to the Philly suburbs to Delaware:
Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia fireworks: July 3 at 9:45 p.m. at 7th & Packer Ave.
Setting off your own fireworks? Here’s what you need to know
Philadelphia’s law strictly limits how fireworks can be used, essentially making them tough to set off legally and safely within city limits.
Only people aged 18 years and older are allowed to buy, possess, or use consumer fireworks.
Fireworks cannot be used on public property or private property without the written consent from the owner.
They can’t be set off within 150 feet of an occupied structure, under trees or power lines.
You’re not allowed to set off fireworks from inside or toward a building or vehicle.
And you’re not allowed to use them if you’ve been drinking or using drugs, according to the Pennsylvania State Police.
In October 2020, City Council passed a bill that makes it illegal to set off fireworks after 9 p.m., except on federal holidays (and even then, you have to adhere to the fire code). Break the rules, and you could face a fine.
If you’re getting around by transit, some good news: SEPTA is adding extra service on Sunday, July 4, if you are traveling to see the fireworks on the Parkway.
There will be increased service on the Market-Frankford and Broad Street Lines, including six BSL Express trains leaving Fern Rock every 10 minutes from 6:10 to 7 p.m.
Some Regional Rail trains will be added, or run later than usual, for customers leaving Center City Philadelphia after the fireworks. There will be late night service on Airport, Chestnut Hill East, Lansdale/Doylestown, Fox Chase, Paoli/Thorndale, Manayunk/Norristown, Media/Elwyn, Trenton, Warminster, West Trenton, and Wilmington Line trains.
The Mann Loop will get you to the Wawa Welcome America Concert at The Mann Center by bus on July 4, with seven stops in Center City and dropping you off right in front of the venue.
Parkway bus routes will be detoured because of the fireworks.
Find more information at septa.org/service/holiday.html.
If you have kids:
M & M Flag at the Betsy Ross House 🎉
(Seasonal / in-person / multiday / kid-friendly) It’s your last chance to catch the 50-star flag made entirely of candy-coated milk chocolates. The patriotic confection is on display and ready for selfies (but no snacking please) through July Fourth only. Ages 3+. ($7 adults, $6 seniors, active military, students & children, through July 4, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., 239 Arch St., historicphiladelphia.org)
July 4 week at the Museum of the American Revolution 🏛️
(Seasonal / in-person / multiday / kid-friendly) Kids (and growns) can learn stories behind stars, stripes, and myriad more designs adorning 40 rare American flags on exhibit at the Museum of the American Revolution. Then, they can make their own versions — and write their own constitutions, while they’re at it. There will also be extra discovery carts and pop-up talks in the runup to the fourth. Ages 4+ ($21 adult, $18 senior, student, teacher & military, $13 ages 6-17, free 5 & under, June 28- July 5, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., 101 S. Third St., amrevmuseum.org)
Freedom Liberty Celebration at the African American Museum in Philadelphia 🏛️
(History / in-person / kid-friendy / free) The African American Museum helps kids understand July Fourth through a lens of African American history. Historical reenactors lead groups from Franklin Square to the plaza outside the museum to hear words that take them back in time, then to create their own works inspired by Frederick Douglass’ speech The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro and Davis Hammon’s iconic African-American Flag with artist Jihan Thomas. Ages 4+. (Free, July 3, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., 701 Arch St., aampmuseum.org)
July 4 at Fort Mifflin 🏛️
(History / in-person / outdoors / kid-friendly) If there’s a week to lean into the region’s many historical sites, it’s this one. Learn about the American Revolution site with tours, musket and cannon demonstrations, and historical displays. And for a $20 donation, you can try firing the signal cannon. Pack some lunch: You can reserve a picnic table for $10 in advance (by July 2); the rest are first-come, first-served. Parking is free, and you can also bring your pup with you. ($6-$10, July 4, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., 6400 Hog Island Rd., fortmifflin.us)
A Celebration of Freedom at Independence Hall 🏛️
(History / in-person / free) The City of Philadelphia, Wawa Welcome America, and Independence National Historical Park present a free, outdoor July 4 event complete with readings from the Declaration of Independence, patriotic music, and remarks from community members. (Free, July 4, 10:30-11:30 a.m., 5th and Chestnut Sts., nps.gov)
If you’re going down the shore:
It’s always hot on July 4, often uncomfortably so, which makes the shore ideal with its ocean breeze and cool water. Many of the shore’s beaches aren’t free to visit: you need to buy a plastic beach tags before you can step foot on the sand. Certain Jersey beaches are free to visit with lots of sandy space for lounging and plenty of sea for swimming, including Atlantic City, Strathmere, and the Wildwood beaches.
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More to do at the Shore:
See the sights
Visit a brewery
If raising a glass to the holiday is on your long-weekend to-do list, there are a number of excellent Jersey Shore breweries, from Cape May to Atlantic City, with great craft beer options. Check out Bucket Brigade Brewery in Cape May for a menu of ales, lagers, and pilsners in a bring your own food space, or order one of the very popular Grapefruit double IPAs at Hidden Sands Brewery in Egg Harbor Township. In Wildwood, you can visit the Harley-Davidson-shop-turned-brewery MudHen Brewing for a cold, draft beer paired with one of the many items on its food menu, like burgers and loaded mac and cheese.
» READ MORE: Best breweries at the Jersey Shore
More eating and drinking
If you want to get out of town:
Pick your own berries
Long weekends lend themselves well to day trips and out-of-Philly getaways. For something a little different than the bound-to-be crowded Jersey Shore, visit a local farm where it’s peak pick-your-own (PYO) berries season. We’ve found a dozen farms for picking berries near Philly, whether you want it to be just a quick trip from the city or a longer road trip. It’s currently blueberry and raspberry season.
More road trips:
If you’re planning a party:
Takeout truly takes the stress out of any party hosting, and luckily, there are plenty of great restaurants that are serving party-ready meals for your July 4 gathering. Here are some places to get started:
If you’re looking to hang out with friends
There are lots large outdoor restaurants and open-air dining spaces that are meant for hanging out alfresco with a group of friends or family. But you can face a lengthy wait time, particularly on nice days when everyone is trying to get outside.
That said, there are a number of outdoor bars and restaurants that are ideal for snagging a table with a crowd. For casual hangouts with no reservations necessary, visit pop-up summer park Spruce Street Harbor Park or the rooftop open-air space Sunset Social. If you’re looking for a sit-down meal, call ahead for a table in Le Virtu’s spacious courtyard or make a reservation at the all-outdoor Juno.
More outdoor dining: