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10 ways to celebrate the Fourth of July in Boston

Your ultimate guide to Independence Day weekend.
Fourth of July
The Boston Pops have a star-studded concert planned. Photo by Stu Rosner

Boston may not be known as the bagel or all-night subway capital of the country, but it’s pretty hard to find a better place to celebrate the Fourth of July than Boston, the Cradle of Liberty. We’ve got you covered for the best ways to enjoy the long weekend and celebrate this country’s history with details on all the major historical, musical and culinary events happening around the city.

1. Take part in Boston Harborfest

The largest Fourth of July festival in the nation is more of an information center for the many special events happening at the city’s museums, monuments and historical programming than a stand alone festival. However, Harborfest organizers are offering Bostonians some unique ways to celebrate the long weekend. On June 30, Mayor Marty Walsh will lead an opening ceremony at Fanueil Hall and cut the official Harborfest cake as the 215th Army band plays. The celebrations continue with Arts at Harborfest, an all day art show on July 1 at Christopher Columbus Park. The park is also the spot of Sunday’s Chowderfest, where The Atlantic Fish Company, Chart House, the Hard Rock Café Boston, Joe’s American Bar & Grill and The Palm Boston will be offering samples of their chowder, all free of charge.

2. Board the USS Constitution

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It’s hard to think of a better way to celebrate the history of America than to explore the world’s oldest commissioned warship, which commemorates

the beginnings of the US Navy. Fourth of July weekend is also one of the last times you will be able to board the ship for a while; the USS Constitution will be closed to the public until late in the summer as she makes the transition from Dry Dock to floating again in Pier 1. Take advantage of this historic opportunity to see the ship in its entirety with educational programs and hands-on activities.

3. Splurge at City Tap House’s BeerBQ Battle

This Independence Day celebration includes three decidedly American ingredients: competition, brews and barbeque. Come to Fort Point for City Tap House’s first annual BeerBQ Battle, which will pit the restaurant against Lord Hobo Brewing, Otter Creek Brewing and Boulevard Brewing Company for the title of best barbeque and beer combination. In between bites, you can stoke your own friendly rivalries with an elimination cornhole tournament, or just enjoy music from a live band. If the $20 platter, which allows you to sample the cuisine of all 4 breweries and enjoy sides of potato salad, coleslaw and corn, isn’t enough to satisfy your appetite, City Tap House will be selling spiked bomb pop slushies for $10.

4. Ring in independence at the Old North Church

You don’t have to be a history buff to feel chills at the Old North Church, the place where Paul Revere famously announced the British were coming and ignited the American Revolution.  For those looking to dive further into revolutionary history, Old North Church will be offering an array of programming at Colonialfest from noon-4 p.m, July 1-2. Learn about colonial life in interactive presentations on chocolate making, 18th century sewing, musket use and quill writing, just to name a few. Stick around for a reading of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s famous poem “Paul Revere’s Ride” on Sunday at 2 and 4 p.m.

5. Parade through downtown with Mayor Walsh

It’s only natural that the mayor’s office will take a big part in the celebrations of the beginnings of American government. The fun begins with an opening ceremony at City Hall plaza at 9 a.m. From there, a parade will march to Old Granary Burial Ground to lay wreaths at the graves of famous patriots Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Robert Treat Paine and Peter Fanueil. The parade continues to the Old State House for a spirited reading of the Declaration of the Independence and concludes at Fanueil Hall at noon.

6. One if by land, and two if by sea

Several of the city’s boat tours are offering Fourth of July specials. Boston Harbor Cruises has the Salute to Freedom Cruise, with USS Constitution Museum Historians teaching Boston maritime history accompanied by a lobster roll lunch, hangar stake, apple crisp and more. You can also party on the water with Spirit Cruises’ lunch and dinner rides, which include buffet-style fare, a DJ, dancing and games such as giant Jenga. Down at Rowes’ wharf, enjoy plated lunch and dinner menus on Odyssey’s Independence Day Cruises.

7. Chow down at your favorite restaurants

These area restaurants are ready for you with Fourth of July weekend specials. Vegan favorite by CHLOE. will offer a Picnic Plate between July 1 and July 4, which features a Whiskey BBQ sandwich with Portobello mushrooms instead of meat, corn salsa, a slice of watermelon, a choice of ice tea or lemonade and a cupcake. Those seeking to satisfy a sweet tooth can head over to Morano Gelato in Chestnut Hill, which will be introducing new flavors like the specialty Pop Rocks flavor, which will only be available on July 4. Finally, if you’re searching for fancier fare, Top of the Hub will have a $250 5-course dinner with a cash bar. Though the price tag may be steep, the Prudential Tower restaurant is a great place to view the fireworks and will show a live simulcast of the Boston Pops performance at the Esplanade.

8. Walk back in time on the Freedom Trail

During Independence Day weekend, the Freedom Trail Foundation has an expanded schedule of tours. Tourists and Bostonians alike can stick with the traditional Walk into History tours, which leave every hour from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. as well as at 2:30 p.m. from Faneuil Hall and Boston Common. If you’re wishing to lighten this heavy historical load, check out the Historic Pub Crawl June 29, which stops at four historically important taverns.

9. Rock the night away with the Boston Pops

The Boston Pops are back at the DCR Hatch Shell on the Esplanade for the annual Fourth of July concert. At this free, nationally broadcasted event, the orchestra will play patriotic tunes, along with music from famed Pops conductor John Williams. Pop singer Andy Grammar, music icon Melissa Etheridge and  “Hamilton” star Leslie Odom Jr. will also perform. Make sure to stop by earlier, as the event attracts more than 500,000 people each year. Doors open at 9 a.m. If you’re looking to enjoy the music but escape the crowd, the Pops will play an identical concert (sans fireworks) on July 3 at 8 p.m.

10. Admire the firework spectacle

While the fireworks will officially launch from the Esplanade at the Pops concert, there are plenty of places in the city to view the signature event. A good pick is the Cambridge side of the Charles River, which features food concessions available for sale, sound towers broadcasting the concert’s music and prime views.

 
 
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