We're not sure how the Fourth of July became the main event of the summer, and yet here it is: a holiday of explosions, barbecue and family-friendly entertainment. We're not exactly complaining. Unfortunately, since it is such a popular holiday, the most sought-after destinations — think shorelines and big cities — can be overrun with people and often come with sky-high prices. 

But that doesn't have to be the case. We rounded up a few spots where you can get the best of what the country has to offer for Fourth of July entertainment along with ideas on how to save some money along the way. So gather your family, pack up the car and get ready for some classic American holiday time.

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1. Imperial Beach, San Diego



It’s hard to rival Southern California’s beaches, and San Diego has the perfect combination of laid-back casual fun and amenities. While Mission Beach tends to get impassably crowded on Fourth of July, Imperial Beach is a little quieter, and you’ll still get spectacular views of fireworks. Things will still be a little tight though — beachfront vacation rental rooms run about $150.

Next: Lake Powell

2. Lake Powell, Utah & Arizona border


Love the desert but need an oasis? Lake Powell is a good choice. Located on the Utah-Arizona border, the nearby town of Page is a hub of restaurants and hotels, and it puts you in quick driving distance of classic Arizona destinations like Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. But definitely spend the Fourth on the water. You can score a whole house for less than $200 a night on Airbnb, and most hotel rooms in the area, like the Best Western Plus, are around the same price.

3. Las Vegas, Nevada



Sure, Vegas is going to be hot as heck for Fourth of July, but the city is built on air-conditioning, and you scarcely have to go outside if you don’t want to. Plus, basically every hotel in town has pools to keep kids cool and happy — and they drop their prices around the holiday because people are deterred by the heat. It’s a great time to get a deal on a hotel and take in all Sin City has to offer, like fireworks at the Plaza Hotel & Casino (which currently has rooms for less than $100 a night), Cirque du Soleil performances or seeing Blue Man Group.

4. Lake Tahoe, California & Nevada border


Lake Tahoe’s fireworks display is one of the most popular in the country. North Lake Tahoe tends to be the more inexpensive area, with vacation rentals under $200 a night. Watch the fireworks from the beach or head to Tahoe City for the annual fireworks party. Want to save even more money? Camp at Meeks Bay Resort, which is right on the water.

5. Monument Valley, Arizona & Utah border


If you’re a fan of old Western movies, you’ll recognize the gorgeous spires of Monument Valley. For the most iconic views of the valley, the only place to stay is The View Hotel, which has rooms with two queen beds starting at $209. Or pick up a backcountry permit and go camping in the Navajo Nation. It won’t be the firework extravaganza people imagine for Independence Day, but it’ll be an excellent place to unwind.

6. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina


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A great option for East Coast beach lovers, the fireworks displays over Lake Broadway, Cherry Grove Pier and Murrells Inlet mean you won’t want for colorful explosions. Camp at Pirateland Camping Resort, which has its own waterpark and campsites right on the beach, for an inexpensive Fourth that whole family will enjoy.

7. Black Hills, South Dakota


What better time to see four of our early presidents faces carved into a mountainside than the Fourth of July? Head to Black Hills, South Dakota, and spend time at Mount Rushmore. Several hotels in the area, like The Lodge at Deadwood, run less than $150, or you can camp at one of the 682 campsites in the Black Hills National Forest.


8. West Palm Beach, Florida



What’s more American than a Florida beach? West Palm Beach has plenty of affordable hotel options to choose from, and you won't miss a single moment of Independence Day celebration. The waterfront has a Fourth of July extravaganza with art exhibitions, live music and nearly 20 minutes of fireworks.


9. Bristol, Rhode Island



Home to the oldest Fourth of July celebration in the U.S., there’s something spectacularly cool about celebrating the nation’s independence in a city that’s been throwing parties for the anniversary since 1785. The Riverview Inn & Suites has rooms for less than $120 for a budget-friendly option.

10. Lake Michigan, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana & Illinois



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Saying you should celebrate the Fourth of July on Lake Michigan is like saying you should celebrate in a small country. One of the Great Lakes, it borders four different states and has more than 1,600 miles of shoreline. So really, where you want to spend the holiday is up to you. New Buffalo, St. Joseph and South Haven in Michigan will all have fabulous light displays, or you’re bound to find a hotel deal in Chicago if you want to watch from Navy Pier.

11. Scottsdale, Arizona

Don’t let the oppressive heat scare you away — because the heat makes the prices of otherwise expensive luxury hotels drop precipitously. The Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch has some hotel rooms for under $100. When you’re not sitting poolside, head to the Phoenix zoo for family-friendly Fourth of July fun and catch the fireworks over Tempe Town Lake.