Is there a better city to celebrate July Fourth than the city where it all began?

As usual, Philly is going big with Independence Day festivities that last an entire week, building up to Wednesday's free concert and fireworks celebration on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Wednesday's large crowds mean you'll need to prepare for potential travel delays and traffic. Here's what to expect, whether you'll be driving down the Schuylkill or hopping on SEPTA.

Street closures

The festivities, from the Independence Day Parade and the Party on the Parkway to the concert and fireworks, will mean lots of traffic. Some of the closures start Tuesday, when some Old City streets will be blocked off for the Philly Pops concert on Independence Mall. The following roads will be closed Wednesday due to the parade, according to the Mayor's Office:

  • Chestnut Street, between Fifth and Sixth Streets, from previous day until 7 p.m.
  • Sixth, between Market Street and Chestnut, from previous day until 7 p.m.
  • Third Street, Arch to Walnut Streets, from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Fourth Street, Arch to Walnut, from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Fifth Street, Arch to Walnut, from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Chestnut, from Front Street to Seventh Street, from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Chestnut, from Seventh to 10th Street, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • The remainder of the parade route — which runs from Fifth and Chestnut to Ninth Street, then along Market to Front — will close around 10 a.m. Wednesday.

The activities on the Parkway will close the following streets from 5 a.m. Wednesday to 6 a.m. Thursday, unless otherwise specified, according to the mayor's office:

  • Inner lanes of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway from 18th Street to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, closed Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. until Thursday at 5 a.m.
  • Outer lanes of the Parkway from 18th to the Art Museum.
  • Eakins Oval.
  • Behind the Art Museum.
  • 2000 and 2100 blocks of Winter Street.
  • Martin Luther King Drive.
  • I-676 off ramp at 22nd Street.
  • 1-676 off ramp at 23rd Street.
  • I-76 eastbound off ramp at Spring Garden Street.
  • 20th Street from Arch to the Parkway.
  • 16th and 17th Streets from Arch to Spring Garden will experience closures "as needed."

The city's website has a complete list of closures and delays, as well as a map.

SEPTA

While the thought of driving in some parts of the city Wednesday may be nightmare-inducing, SEPTA is hoping to make travel easier by adding extra trains along the Broad Street and Market-Frankford Lines, as well as additional trips on selected trolley routes.

Bus Routes 7, 32, 33, 38, 43 and 48 will be detoured.

All SEPTA services will operate on a Sunday schedule with "special late-night service" for those heading home after the Parkway celebrations.

Parking

Philadelphians will have another reason to celebrate Wednesday — the Philadelphia Parking Authority isn't enforcing kiosks, meters or time limits on residential blocks throughout the day, according to its blog.

The PPA suggests the following parking garages if you're driving to the Parkway events:

  • Family Courthouse Garage, 15th and Arch Streets: Rates range from $6 to $29.
  • Philadelphia Gateway Parking Garage, 15th and Vine Streets: Rates range from $3 to $20; evening rates available.
  • 19th and Callowhill Streets Lot: Rates range between $6 to $12; evening rates available.

Travel

More than 630,000 residents from the Philadelphia area are expected to be traveling 50 miles or more for the July Fourth holiday, a more than 5 percent increase from last year, according to AAA.

>> READ MORE: Fireworks on the Fourth: Be wary. Even sparklers can kill

Looking to avoid the traffic? Travel times could be twice as long as normal, with Tuesday afternoon expected to be the busiest time.

The motor club cautions drivers to make sure their vehicles are equipped to hit the road before heading out to the Shore, Poconos or wherever their final destination may be. Over the holiday last year, AAA Mid-Atlantic rescued more than 6,700 drivers in the area. Dead batteries, lockouts and flat tires were the cause of many of the calls, according to the organization.

Regional gas prices have been trending slightly higher than the national average of $2.86, with Pennsylvania's at $3 and New Jersey's at $2.88.

AAA has a fuel finder so drivers can shop around for the cheapest prices ahead of time.

Weather

Whatever you decide to do, sunscreen and water will be musts on your packing lists, with the Philadelphia region in a heat wave that's expected to last beyond the Independence Day holiday. The National Weather Service's Mount Holly office expects Wednesday to be mostly sunny with a high in the mid-90s and a low only dipping down to the mid-70s. There's a chance of isolated thunderstorms in the afternoon.

Check out the Office of Emergency Management's complete list of tips on how to stay cool during the extreme heat.

How to celebrate

Wawa Welcome America celebrations last all day long, including:

More fireworks

Crowds not your thing? Staff writer Claire Wolters has a roundup of other fireworks shows and concerts happening across the region, from Lancaster to the Shore.

Eating

If you feel like straying from the Parkway, restaurant critic Michael Klein has a guide to all the outdoor restaurants and beer gardens you might want to check out. Of course, you'll want to check ahead of time that the bars and restaurants haven't adjusted their hours for the holiday.