As the birthplace of our country, Philadelphia is also one of the best places to celebrate July 4. The city’s main event, WaWa Welcome America, is a week-long celebration of the USA and includes many parties, history lessons and family-friendly events scattered throughout the city — and some are free. Of course, Welcome America isn’t the only place to spend the holiday. Here are some of the best Independence Day parties in and around Philly.
Fireworks & Fountains
1001 Longwood Road
Kennett Square, PA 19348
Date: July 4, 2014 at 9:15 p.m.
The picturesque Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square will light up the night sky with a colorful display of fireworks and fountains this Independence Day to help “Celebrate America.” Patriotic music will play throughout the gardens, including songs like “The Stars & Stripes,” “The National Anthem” and “The Colonel Bogey March.” Come early to dine on some summer barbecue before the firework display and to bask in the Gardens’ natural beauty.
Fonthill Castle’s Old Fashioned Fourth of July Celebration
525 E. Court St.
Doylestown, PA 18901
Date: July 4, 2014 at 12 p.m.
Fonthill Castle was built by archaeologist Henry Chapman Mercer in the early 20th century in Doylestown, Bucks County. The castle and the Mercer Museum, which contains Mercers’ archaeology collection of 19th century daily life, attracts more than 65,000 people a year. During its Fourth of July celebration, you’ll be able to enjoy a watermelon eating contest, a decorated bike parade, food, live music, games and an early form of baseball, dubbed the town ball game. Tickets are only $4, or $2 if you’re a member or $1 for children ages five to 17.
The Freedom Festival
Camden, NJ 08103
Date: July 3-6, 2014
The Freedom Festival is four days of music, food, activities and attractions on the Waterfront in Camden, New Jersey, between the Battleship New Jersey and Adventure Aquarium. Kicking off Thursday, July 3, you’ll be able to enjoy activities (and BBQ!) aboard the Battleship New Jersey and live music all day at Wiggins Park. Thursday also includes the WMGK Let Freedom Rock Concert at Susquehanna Bank Center, where Foreigner, Styx and Don Felder are set to perform. Don’t forget to watch the fireworks over the Delaware River on Saturday, July 5. The Battleship New Jersey hosts the annual “Battleship Blast” fundraiser that evening with BBQ and some of the best views of the fireworks.
Philly 4th of July Jam
Benjamin Franklin Parkway
20th St. to Eakins Oval
Philadelphia, PA 19130
Date: July 4, 2014 at 12 p.m.
Philadelphia’s 4th of July Jam is often hailed as the largest free concert in America. Every year, Philadelphia’s The Roots curate the event and act as house band to the roster of carefully selected musicians. This year, the stage will be graced by the likes of Ed Sheeran, Nicki Minaj, Jennifer Hudson, Aloe Blacc, Ariana Grande and Vicci Martinez. Afterwards, watch one of the best 4th of July firework displays in the country light up the sky over the Philadelphia Art Museum. And before the Jam starts at 7 p.m., the Benjamin Franklin Parkway will be one big party, with blocks full of food, games, activities and live music.
321 S. 4th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Date: July 5, 2014 at 11 a.m.
Dr. Philip Syng Physick, known as the “Father of American Surgery,” introduced carbonated water to Philadelphia in 1807 to relieve his patients’ gastric disorders by giving them a glass a day. To improve taste, Dr. Physick instructed his assistant to add syrup and, with that, he invented the first American soda. Dr. Physick’s Black Cherry Soda Pop was reintroduced to the Philadelphia market in 2007, and the annual Phyzz Fest, held at Dr. Physick’s historic house, now celebrates the soda and other historical events that happened at the house. At Phyzz Fest, you can make your own homemade historic ice cream, participate and view reenactments in the house and garden, listen to a reading of the Declaration of Independence and a choir of bells and enjoy hot dogs, soda, ice cream and cake (in honor of the Doc’s birthday — in Philadelphia on July 7, 1768).
Related: 4th Of July Party Essentials
Kelly Neilson is a freelance writer living and working in Philadelphia. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.