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Taking the Kids: Celebrating with family on the Fourth of July

Eileen Ogintz, Tribune Content Agency on

What was your best Fourth of July? A parade, a barbecue with your nearest and dearest, fireworks or perhaps an entirely new experience?

However you decide to celebrate our nation’s birthday, presumably wearing red, white and blue, you certainly won’t be celebrating alone this Fourth of July weekend. Despite inflation and record gas prices averaging just under $5 a gallon, AAA says about 48 millions of us will travel over the holiday period.

A record-breaking 42 million of us will hit the road, even if we have to forgo a souvenir or dinner out to compensate for escalating fuel costs. At least you won’t be stuck at an airport, with so many flight delays and cancellations this summer.

Don’t forget a big cooler. Save on meals with picnics — much more fun anyway than herding kids in a restaurant.

Orlando is this year’s top domestic destination, followed by Seattle, New York, Anaheim, California, and Anchorage. Top international destinations are Vancouver, Paris, London, Rome and Amsterdam.

Of course, you don’t have to venture far from home for a bang-up Independence Day celebration. When my kids were small, they were always excited to stake out a spot for our beach chairs so that we would have a good vantage point to watch the Evanston, Illinois, Independence Day parade. American flags were a must for waving and there were bonus points for a spot near the ice cream shop.


A few years later, we moved to Connecticut. The first summer we visited the Statue of Liberty with our youngest daughter, Mel, then 4, who crowned herself “The Statue of Looney.” In the ensuing years, in from Compo Beach in Westport, Connecticut, we would stake out spots to watch the fireworks over Long Island Sound. An after-dark picnic was all part of the fun.

We’ve celebrated away from home too. After a family reunion in Colorado one year, we joined locals and visitors to cheer on the marches in the Vail, Colorado, parade while enjoying a deluxe getaway at the Four Seasons Vail Resort. Pretty much all resorts — large and small — will offer special activities on Independence Day weekend.

If camping or RVing is your thing, I hope you’ve booked reservations by now as camping vacations are experiencing growth like never before. If not, try a midweek getaway in a couple of weeks.

The experts are suggesting getaways closer to home this summer. When was the last time you experienced Independence Day in a city near where you live? Enjoy a getaway now that your youngest kids can get vaccinated against COVID-19, making travel during these pandemic times that much safer — and less stressful.


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