11 Family-Friendly Fourth of July Events Around the U.S.

Fourth of July falls on a Friday this year — the perfect opportunity to take the kids away on a family-friendly vacation to celebrate the three-day weekend. Below are some ideas from around the country on where to go to get away this Fourth of July weekend. From California, New Mexico and Texas to the birthplace of the nation, New England, there are so many fun activities for families to experience this Fourth of July weekend in the U.S.

A three-day weekend makes the Fourth of July the perfect time to travel with the family.
A three-day weekend makes the Fourth of July the perfect time to travel with the family.

Sonoma County, CA

Sonoma County, located about 45 minutes north of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, celebrates Fourth of July on the Plaza in true, old-fashioned style. Beginning with a parade at 10:00 a.m. with marching bands and fun floats, visitors will also find live music and games all day long along with food, beer, and wine. Visitors can cap the day off by choosing from an array of fireworks displays including, but not limited to, the 4th of July Celebration at the Green Music Center, the 4th of July celebration and firework display in Petaluma or the Red, White, and Boom in Santa Rosa. For more information, visit www.sonomacounty.com.

Bristol, RI

This summer, Bristol, RI, nicknamed “America’s Most Patriotic Town,” invites residents and travelers alike to join in on the historic port town’s 229th Fourth of July celebration. Established in 1785, Bristol honors our nation’s birthday with the oldest continuous celebration of its kind in the United States. This truly unique American experience brings the people of Bristol and beyond together through a series of patriotic traditions which starts well before the Fourth and culminates with Bristol’s Fourth of July Parade. This major Rhode Island event attracts visitors from all over the country, bringing the small town of 23,000 up to well over 100,000 people eager to celebrate the occasion. For more information on this a fascinating display of American pride, visit www.july4thbristolri.com.

Charleston, SC

Just in time for Independence Day, the Charleston Museum is pleased to announce the opening of its new exhibition Unfurled: Flags  a tribute to the “Stars and Stripes” and more. Throughout history, flags have played an important role as symbols of pride, patriotism and at points, potent reminders of the nation’s darkest days. On display on July 4, 2014 through January 4, 2015, the flag collection will be housed in the museum’s Historic Textiles Gallery and will feature a collection that spans from the early 19th century to the late 20th with a range of styles and functions.  For more information, visit www.charlestonmuseum.org.

Fort Worth, TX

Get a little wild this Fourth of July near the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District at Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic held at Billy Bob’s Texas – the world’s largest honky-tonk. The highly anticipated, all-day outdoor concert announced two main acts, which will feature performances by Dierks Bentley and Mr. Nelson himself. General admission tickets for the 41st annual festival are on sale now. Gates open at 11 a.m. and the music ends at midnight.  For more information, please go to www.forthworth.com.

New Haven, CT

Home to Yale University, New Haven’s remarkable 300-year-old history, cultural offerings and award-winning restaurants create the ideal setting for the Fourth of July Weekend.  This year, travelers can enjoy New Haven’s annual fireworks shot from the highest point in East Rock Park with family-friendly activities, performances and more.  For more information about the fireworks celebration, visit www.cityofnewhaven.com.  For more information on New Haven’s dining options, accommodations and more, visit www.infonewhaven.com

New York, NY

This Fourth of July, Mandarin Oriental, New York is offering an Extra Fun-Day Away package for the holiday weekend. Take some extra time to experience New York City’s celebrations with an Extra Fun-Day Awaywhich gives guests a complimentary third night when booking two consecutive nights or more at Best Available Rates. The Extra Fun-Day Away package begins at $895 per night.  For more information, visitwww.mandarinoriental.com/newyork.com.

Norfolk, VA

Travelers can leave the Fourth of July grilling to Norfolk, Virginia, this summer when they head to Town Point Park on Waterside Drive for the 32nd Annual AT&T Fourth of July Great American Picnic & Fireworks event. Guests will have the opportunity to taste delicious American fare, relax on the lawn and enjoy the fireworks display, all while listening to live music by the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command Band. Admission is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.visitnorfolktoday.com or www.festevents.org.

 Panama City Beach, FL

Known for its award-winning beaches and emerald water, Panama City Beach has long been a summertime tradition, and the area’s strong military ties and All-American vibe make it the perfect beach for celebrating America’s independence.  Kicking off July 4th weekend is the Summer Concert Series, an event featuring the Air National Guard Band of the South’s jazz ensemble at Aaron Bessant Park amphitheater on July 3.  On July 4, the destination will host its first ever Color Run, followed by the Star Spangled Spectacular neighborhood-style block party with music and fireworks at Pier Park.  For more information, please visit www.visitpanamacitybeach.com

Providence, RI

As home to original “Yankee Doodle Dandy” composer George M. Cohan, Providence provides the ultimate July 4th experience with the BankRI Independence Day Celebration in India Point Park. Hosted by Mayor Angel Taveras, the City of Providence Department of Art, Culture + Tourism and the Providence Tourism Council, this celebration will feature entertainment by The Rhode Island Philharmonic Pops Orchestra, beginning at 7:30 p.m.followed by a stunning Fourth of July Fireworks display at 9:15 p.m. A rain date of July 5, 2014 has been set.  For more information, visit www.goprovidence.com.

Santa Fe, NM

The Fourth of July in Santa Fe, New Mexico, means live music, pancakes, performances on the Plaza, and more. Each Independence Day in the City Different, the Santa Fe United Way heads to the Plaza where hundreds of volunteers serve thousands of eaters fresh cooked pancakes for the Annual Pancakes On The Plaza event. This annual event attracts locals and visitors alike with delicious pancakes, a car show, art and craft vendors and plenty of live entertainment. The experience culminates with an evening fireworks show at the Santa Fe High School after guests have had the chance to enjoy performances by local dancers, musicians and singers on the Plaza Bandstand, and of course, platefuls of pancakes. For more information, visit http://www.pancakesontheplaza.comor www.santafe.org.


Long-hailed “The Mother of Presidents,” Virginia is a leading destination for celebrating the birth of our nation with historic hot spots including Monticello, Mount Vernon and Yorktown, as well as informative tours and reenactments offered state-wide. From festivals and parades to firework displays and live musical performances, Virginia has all the resources for an ideal Fourth of July getaway. The state is within a day’s drive or less of 60 percent of the U.S. population, creating an unbeatable weekend retreat for American travelers. Virginia’s annual events includeIndependence Day at MonticelloAn American Celebration at Mount VernonIndependence Day Celebrations at Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest and more. A complete list of Virginia’s Fourth of July festivals, events and packages may be found at www.Virginia.org/July4th.

Fourth of July is only a week away, what will you be doing?

The Perfect Father’s Day Gift for Dad’s Who Love Road Trips

Looking for the perfect father’s day gift? What about taking dad on a road trip — in his dream car? A car rental may not initially come to your mind when thinking about a gift for dad, but taking advantage of Hertz Dream Car Collection, you’ll be able to give him a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get behind the wheel of a sleek, powerful sports car – such as an Aston Martin, Ferrari or Lamborghini – for a weekend getaway or just the day.

Rent dad his dream car from Hertz for Father's Day.
Rent dad his dream car from Hertz for Father’s Day.


The Hertz Dream Car Collection currently includes the following vehicles, which are available at various Hertz locations in the U.S.:


·         Aston Martin V8 Vantage (coupe and roadster)

·         Audi (R8, Spyder)

·         BMW (650i Gran Coupe, 650i Convertible, M3 Convertible, M5)

·         Cadillac CTS-V

·         Ferrari (California, F430 Spider)

·         Jaguar XJL (NEW!)

·         Lamborghini Gallardo (Bicolore, LP 550-2)

·         Land Rover Range Rover Sport

·         Mercedes-Benz AMG (C63, E63, SLS, SLS Roadster)

·         Mercedes-Benz (SL550, G550, S550)

·         Nissan GT-R (NEW!)

·         Porsche (911, Cayenne, Boxster, Panamera, Cayman)

·         SRT Viper

·         Tesla Model S

And just in time for Father’s Day, Hertz just added the new Jaguar XJL to its already impressive fleet, offering well-equipped cabin features heated and ventilated seats and a panoramic glass roof while the exterior sheet metal conveys an expressive modern aesthetic.

To get a better sense of which cars are available at the Hertz location(s) closest to you, we recommending giving the location a call to be sure they have the vehicle you want. For detailed pricing, visit http://hertzdreamcars.com/.



On the Blog: Resort Review of Salamander Resort & Spa

In November, I was lucky enough to be invited to see the new Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg, Va. The resort’s equestrian and cooking programs blew me away and convinced me that a stay at Salamander isn’t just about relaxation — it’s about self discovery, while you are relaxing.

Blue Ribbon Suite // (c) 3014 Salamander Resort & Spa
Blue Ribbon Suite // (c) 3014 Salamander Resort & Spa

Read about my experience in Recommend Magazine here.


Summer Family Getaways

Barcelo Hotels & Resorts are offering summer getaways for families. // (c) 2014 Barcelo Hotels & Resorts

I am so ready to ditch school. I am over packing lunch boxes, putting in pony tails and driving my kids to and fro. Do I sound like a bad mom? Maybe I am just a mom in desperate need of a vacation. If you are like me, then Barcelo Hotels & Resorts is looking for you. They are rolling out the red carpet for moms and dads and children, too, with a variety of summer travel getaways for families. If you are like me, and you want to throw the towel in on busy mom duties, here’s a list of summer travel getaways in Mexico and the Dominican Republic:

Barceló Maya Beach Resort Complex (Riviera Maya, Mexico)

o   U-Spa – Barcelo Maya Caribe features a new U-Spa for kids. The spa is the first of its kind in Mexico and exclusively for children. Services include sophisticated up-dos, fun hair wraps and braids, manicures and pedicures with elaborate nail design, massages, and facials among other treatments.

o   Sacred Mayan Journey – From May 22-24, 2014, families can participate in the Sacred Mayan Journey  at Xcaret. Participants will row in canoes, the same way the Mayan ancestors did, from Pole (Xcaret) by the waters of the Caribbean Sea, to the park of Chankanaab on the Island Kuzamil (Cozumel).

o   Barceló Maya Entertainment Center – As part of a multi-million dollar renovation project, Barcelo Maya Beach Resort complex will boast a new Barceló Maya Entertainment Center complete with a sports bar, bowling alley, teen disco, new kids club, full waterpark, paddle tennis courts and redesign of the 18-hole miniature golf course.

Barceló Bávaro Palace Deluxe (Punta Cana, Dominican Republic)

o   Family Club Services – Family Club services begin immediately upon arrival as kids will be greeted with a welcome bag, including suntan lotion, mini slippers, a mini robe, and a pass to access the water park. Adults can enjoy a welcome cocktail at the Bar Las Olas with entertainment before settling in to a specially designed room, with a specific area for children to play and sleep.

o   Barcy Kids Club – Kids will keep busy with a plethora of activities offered through the Barcy Kids Club, available for children ages 4 to 12 years old. A group of trained staff supervise and keep the children entertained with beach walks, balloon competitions, films, beach volleyball, sandcastles, dance classes, mini disco and afternoons at the children’s waterpark.

o   Merengue Festival – The Merengue Festival, a celebration of the Dominican Republic’s favorite music and dance, will take place July 25 – August 10, 2014 in Santo Domingo. Visitors will celebrate with non-stop music, shows, concerts, parades, fairs and parties in the streets. The festival’s food, art exhibitions, games, and other activities draw thousands of tourists every year.

Seasonal rates start at $215 per room, based on double occupancy, and children 12 and under are only $60. Summer vacations can be booked by calling 1-800-227-2356  (www.barcelo.com).