34 Things to Do on the Fourth of July

Can't think of any plans other than grilling and chilling? Celebrate the stars and stripes with these creative things to do on the Fourth of July.

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Fourth of July, American food. Above view table scene on white wood.JENIFOTO/GETTY IMAGES

What’s the best way to spend the Fourth of July?

From watching fireworks to feasting on your favorite barbecue recipes, Independence Day is the perfect holiday to spend outdoors. This year, take advantage of that time off of work to spend some quality time with the people in your life. Whether you’re having a Fourth of July picnic with the kids, hosting a Fourth of July party with friends or just whipping up some patriotic desserts, here are our favorite things to do on the Fourth of July that will make it an unforgettable holiday.

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Star studded blueberry pie
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Bake a Star-Studded Pie

Behold: The best, most patriotic pie you’ve ever seen. (We have the recipe and instructions—this star-studded blueberry pie is easier to make than you might think.) With a dessert like this, you’re guaranteed to be asked for the recipe.

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Burgers cooking onbarbecue grill
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Get Your Grill On

It wouldn’t be the Fourth without some delicious food fresh off the grill. The smoky taste doesn’t have to end at burgers and hot dogs, though. Here are some creative grilling recipes that go beyond the usuals with dishes like grilled bruschetta and grilled angel food cake.

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Fireworks Display
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Watch Fireworks

Would Independence Day be the same without fireworks? Whether you plan to watch a local show or even set off a few yourself, fireworks and the Fourth are a match made in heaven.

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Crispy star pops

Make Crispy Star Pops

For a star-spangled snack that’s fun to make with the whole family, try making these star pops. Just cut your favorite cereal treats into patriotic shapes—then cover with melted chocolate and red, white and blue sprinkles.

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Independence day. US holiday. Outdoor. Family dinner
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Host a Family Picnic

The secret to a perfect picnic? You’ll need good company, the right amount of festive activities and, of course, a star-studded menu. It might seem daunting to plan, but we’ve got your back. Check out our guide to how to plan a picnic.

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10 Diy 4th of July tin can candlestick
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Make a “July Jack-o-Lantern”

Looking for ways to occupy the kids and recycle those tin cans you opened when prepping the cookout’s baked beans? Try making a red, white and blue candle holder from the can! Just poke holes in the sides, then let your kiddos paint on some stripes and put a tea light inside. Once it gets dark, their little luminaries will glow like jack-o’-lanterns in July. Here’s an acrylic paint kit to get you started.

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children holding colorful water balloons on his hand.

Wage a Water Balloon Fight

If the weather is warm, a fun and refreshing water balloon fight can add some excitement to your holiday. Just invest in some red, white and blue balloons! Bonus: The extra water balloons can double as a drink cooler, using cold balloons like ice.

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Family Enjoying Camping Holiday On Campsite

Go Backyard Camping

We can’t think of a better way to end the day than with a night under the stars—but you don’t need to drive to a campground to pitch a tent and start a campfire. Instead, set up site in your backyard—we’ve even got a guide to backyard camping. Once the tent is set, you can share stories around the campfire, study constellations and snack on your favorite camping recipes.

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American Flag cornhole game with red and blue bean bags
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American Flag cornhole game with red and blue bean bags on a lush green lawn.

Yard Games

What’s a summer gathering without yard games? Whether you prefer bocce ball, cornhole or spikeball, playing outdoor games makes enjoying the weather all the better.

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Children marching in 4th of July parade
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Go to a Parade

Start your holiday on the right note by attending a Fourth of July parade. Don’t forget to wear red, white and blue!

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bandana flag
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Assemble an American Flag from Bandanas

If you don’t have an American flag to hang, make one from bandanas. Grab a wooden rod or dowel, and cut thirteen red and white long stripes from the bandanas, plus a rectangle of blue, and attach them to the rod accordingly. Use a piece of twine to hang the rod, and you’re all set with an especially summery flag. Let it hang through Labor Day!

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Cooking s’mores on a cool summer night in the mountains of northern Idaho
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Cook Over a Campfire

It’s simple, but everybody loves a s’more. (In fact, we love them so much, we came up with plenty of new ways to make s’mores). But if you’ve got the fire set up, there’s no reason to jump right to dessert: We’ve got delicious campfire recipes that will give you something else to roast over the open fire.

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Bomb pop cookies

Bake Cookies

On a normal day, good ol’ chocolate chip would work—but not today! Check out these Fourth of July cookie recipes perfect for the holiday if you’re short on inspiration. With such cute ideas, you won’t be able to stop at one batch.

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forth of july charcuterie board
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Serve a Fourth of July Charcuterie Board

Charcuterie boards are perfect for any occasion, the Fourth of July included! Fill up your board with red, white and blue foods, such as strawberries, fruit dip and blue M&Ms. Star-shaped crackers and red, white and blue nonpareils make the spread feel especially patriotic. Here are more detailed instructions on how to make our Fourth of July charcuterie board.

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American Flag Toothpick Wreath; Welcome Home; Craft; Toothpicks
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Make a Red, White and Blue Wreath

Take scraps (or cut strips) of red, white and blue fabric and tie them onto a wooden ring from the craft store. Hang it with a red and white striped bow, and you’ve got the perfect decoration for your front door.

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Dress Up

Dressing up in our country’s colors will make the holiday feel special—whether you simply wear your favorite red, white or blue shirt, or you go all out with on-theme swimsuits, jewelry and shoes.

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Visit a National Landmark

If you’re lucky enough to be located near a national landmark, the Fourth of July is the perfect day to visit. Make sure you read up on the history behind each one, whether you visit Mount Rushmore, the Washington Monument or the Lincoln Memorial. If you’re not nearby a national landmark, find a state or local one instead.

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Red White And Blue Lemonade Tmb Studio
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Make Festive Drinks

If you’re celebrating with on-theme food, don’t leave out the drinks! This red, white and blue frozen lemonade is easy to make, with layers of each color in each glass. You could also opt for one of these boozy Fourth of July drinks if you’re looking for a little buzz.

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Friends celebrating Christmas and New Year together holding firework sparkles
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Light Sparklers

While you’re waiting for fireworks to start, break out the sparklers! These are a perfect way to entertain younger kids, especially as it begins to get dark.

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All American Banana Split Exps Ft20 37953 F 0716 1 14
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Make a Festive Banana Split

Did you know the banana split was invented right here in the USA? That makes enjoying a banana split especially patriotic. Just don’t forget the maraschino cherries on top!

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Homemade Sweet Chocolate Caramel Turtles with Pecans
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Host a Turtle Race

If you’re looking for a unique activity to entertain kids and adults alike, test out this Southern tradition. Make a batch of chocolate turtles and prepare for an exciting race. Using a wooden cornhole ramp (with the hole covered, of course), place the candies on toy cars or bean bags and ask your guests to place their bets on the winner. You can decide the prize—and who gets to eat the winning turtle!

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Hang Out at the Lake

If you live in the Midwest, spending the long weekend at a lake cabin is one of the best ways to spend the Fourth. Boating, tubing, waterskiing and swimming are some of the best ways to soak in the summer sun.

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Young woman practicing baseball near Venice beach, California
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Play Catch

Baseball feels especially patriotic, especially when you pair it with a tailgate and a hot dog. Grab your mitts, a baseball and a friend, and get going!

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patriotic pinwheels
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Create Pinwheel Centerpieces

Pick up patterned, double-sided paper and fold each sheet into pinwheels. Attach each to a wooden skewer, and stand them up in the jar or vase of your choice. If you leave them someplace a little breezy, they’ll spin!

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Girl holding basket of freshly picked strawberries
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Berry Picking

Using fresh berries in your berry desserts makes them 10 times better! If you’ve got a garden at home, or a farm that’s open on the Fourth, consider harvesting fresh berries as a part of your festivities. (Here are the best U-pick farms in every state.) We’ve also got guides to how to pick strawberries, how to pick raspberries and how to pick blueberries to help you make the most of your experience. Finally, make sure you have all of these berry tools to make the most of your harvest.

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Sprinkler Spraying Lawn
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Set Up the Sprinkler

Most Fourth of July holidays are hot! Break out the water-based activities by setting up the slip ‘n slide or the sprinkler for the kids to run through. One fun combo to consider? Put a sprinkler underneath the spikeball net for a game that keeps you active while cooling you down.

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Family hiking in woods
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Get out and appreciate America’s nature, whether you live near the mountains, the forest or even the coast. Don’t forget to pack a few high protein snacks to keep yourself fueled.

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Multi colored tie dye tee shirts hanging on clothesline with trees
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Tie-Dye Time

Can’t find anything patriotic to wear on the Fourth? No problem! You can make your own red-white-and-blue outfit and keep the family busy at the same time. And if you don’t have any extra white clothing lying around, try tie-dying some pillow cases.

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Watermelon Feta Flag Salad
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Prepare a Flag-Shaped Lunch

Even if you don’t plan to host or attend a party, you can still make festive foods at home! Watermelon Feta Flag Salad is one of the healthy summer recipes we love to make in July.

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Mountain road
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Go on a Road Trip

Plan a scenic road trip that allows you to see more of the beautiful land that we love. While you’re in the car, read up on the official foods of each state (plus, iconic foods from every state) as you munch on road trip snacks!

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berry ice pop

Make Berry-Filled Popsicles

These popsicles are on theme with fresh raspberries and blueberries, and a milk, honey and vanilla-based mixture to freeze them together. Check out our recipe for Berry White Ice Pops to make them, and pick up some popsicles molds while you’re at it. (Or, learn how to make popsicles without a mold.)

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Mother and daughter riding e-mountain bikes in the mountains
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Go for a Bike Ride

Get in a little exercise by hitting your nearest bike trail with the fam. Or, take it slow and pedal around in the neighborhood for something to do.

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Coastal beach
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Hit the Beach

If you live on the coast, take advantage of proximity to the ocean and plan a beach picnic. Collect seashells, people watch and don’t forget to apply your sunscreen!

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Shop Fourth of July Sales

While some stores may be closed on the holiday, you can online shop to your heart’s content—whether it’s for decorations for next year’s celebrations or that Amazon patio furniture that you’ve been eyeing up that’s finally on sale.

Lauren Pahmeier
Lauren has spent four years in digital and print publishing since earning her professional journalism degree from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. As an editor at Taste of Home, Lauren spends her days leading SEO-focused projects and collaborating with the Test Kitchen to develop new recipes. She also writes daily about her favorite recipes, building seasonal charcuterie boards and more. Lauren previously pitched, wrote and edited content about event planning, catering and travel, but discovered her passion for food journalism in particular while she served as the editor and co-founder of her school’s chapter of Spoon University. After exploring the restaurant scene in Minneapolis for almost eight years, Lauren moved to Milwaukee where she continues to try every seasonal latte and scoop of frozen custard she can. No matter where she goes, she loves to share her finds with her friends and family on Instagram. When she’s not writing or posting about food, she’s either making it at home or deliberating where to dine next.
Emma B. Kumer
Emma interned for Taste of Home in 2017 and then continued freelancing there during college. Post college, she worked with Reader’s Digest as a digital visual assistant full time before becoming a motion designer at The Washington Post. There, she continues honing her craft of digital storytelling on social media platforms. She’s also been a tutorial writer for Adobe and a freelance music video animator. Outside of work, Emma loves running marathons, attending concerts and creative writing.