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11 of the Best Things to Do on the 4th of July

Can't think of any plans other than grilling and chilling? Celebrate the stars and stripes with these creative July 4th activities.

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Boy and his father watching a paradeSuzanne Tucker/Shutterstock

What’s the best way to spend the 4th of July?

From watching fireworks to feasting on barbecue, 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 backyard camping with the kids, hosting a family water balloon fight or just whipping up some star-studded recipes, here are our favorite ideas for an unforgettable 4th of July.

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Crispy star popsTaste of Home

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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Friends Celebrating 4th Of July Holiday With Backyard PartyMonkey Business Images/Shutterstock

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 ultimate guide for planning a picnic.

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10 Diy 4th of July tin can candlestickOlya Detry/Shutterstock

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.Mr.Suchat/Shutterstock

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 with this genius hack.

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Family Enjoying Camping Holiday On Campsiteoliveromg/Shutterstock

Go Backyard Camping

We can’t think of a better way to end the day than with a night under the stars. 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 got a guide right here. Once the tent is set, you can share stories around the campfire, study constellations and snack on our favorite camping recipes.

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Star studded blueberry pieTaste of Home

Bake the Ultimate Star-Studded Pie

Behold: The best, most patriotic blueberry pie you’ve ever seen. (We have the recipe and instructions here—it’s easier to make than you might think.) With a dessert like this, you’re guaranteed to be the envy of any small gathering. Love this idea? Check out the rest of our July 4th dessert collection.

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Homemade Sweet Chocolate Caramel Turtles with PecansBrent Hofacker/Shutterstock

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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Multi colored tie dye tee shirts hanging on clothesline with treesBarbara Kalbfleisch/Shutterstock

Tie-Dye Time

Can’t find anything patriotic to wear on the 4th? 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. Or, you know, cupcakes.)

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Cooking s’mores on a cool summer night in the mountains of northern IdahoSamuel Scranton/Shutterstock

Cook Over a Campfire

It’s simple, but everybody loves a s’more. (In fact, we love them so much, we came up with fun twists on the timeless combination). 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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father and son grilling hot dogs together on backyard gas grillJoshua Resnick/Shutterstock

Get Your Grill On

It wouldn’t be the 4th 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 insanely good grilling recipes you have to try.

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Bomb pop cookiesTaste of Home

Bake Cookies

On a normal day, good ol’ chocolate chip would work—but not today! Check out these patriotic cookie recipes perfect for the 4th of July if you’re short on inspiration. With such cute ideas, you won’t be able to stop at one batch.

Emma B. Kumer
Emma Kumer is a marathon-runner, magazine-writer, and graphic design addict. She was a digital editorial intern for Taste of Home Magazine for Summer 2017. She is also a junior in Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.