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How Will You Celebrate Independence Day?

If you are a travel healthcare professional, chances are that you find yourself in a new city this 4th of July weekend. How will you celebrate Independence Day and remember America’s Birthday?

Consider taking “The Great American Road Trip” to one of America’s most iconic destinations to experience living history, hometown America or learn more about why we celebrate this great holiday. And, of course, the fireworks! Even if you can’t visit these destinations on the 4th of July, add them to your list of cities you’d like to visit while on a travel assignment.

Baltimore, Maryland
Follow the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail and visit 100 miles of early American history. Visit Fort McHenry where the battle that inspired Francis Scott Key to write our national anthem took place and then stop by the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House to become part of one of the most important stories of our nation’s history– the sewing of the flag that inspired our National Anthem. At the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House you will step into living history as you meet Mary Pickersgill, the spirited woman who made the flag. Or, go on the Baltimore Heritage Walk, a 3.2 mile walking trail around the Inner Harbor that connects 20 cultural heritage sites. And when night falls on the 4th, enjoy free musical entertainment and fireworks over the water at the Inner Harbor.

St. Augustine, Florida
The nation’s oldest city, St. Augustine, is filled with historic sights, 16th century buildings, narrow brick-paved streets, fortresses and horse-drawn carriages. It also has more than 40 miles of beaches to enjoy and soak up the sun’s rays. The city was established by the Spanish 42 years before the English colonized Jamestown and 55 years before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. The Castillo de San Marcos, completed in the late 1600’s, survives today and is the highlight of a 4th of July weekend in St. Augustine. The fireworks show above the ancient fort is reflected in the waters of Matanzas Bay. Admission is free, with the best vantage points along the bay front between the Castillo and the Bridge of Lions.

Richmond, Virginia
Central Virginia is filled with so much history that no matter where you decide to go you will be sure to find a 4th of July celebration taking place. Begin your trip in the Historic Richmond Region where 400 years of history are yours to explore. The Virginia State Capitol was designed by Thomas Jefferson and houses the oldest legislative body in the U.S. as well as the only statue of George Washington that the first president himself actually posed for. Then, cruise up to the Church Hill neighborhood and catch a re-enactment of Patrick Henry giving his famous “Give me liberty or give me death speech” at historic St. John’s Church, the actual location where Henry delivered his most famous words. Later on, celebrate at Byrd Park’s 4th of July extravaganza with fireworks and concerts by the James River, or head to Colonial Downs for horse racing and fireworks.

Charlottesville, Virginia
A great day trip from Richmond is Charlottesville where you can visit the homes of three US presidents: Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson; Ash Lawn-Highlands, home of James Monroe; and Montpelier, home of James Madison. In case you forgot your US History 101, Thomas Jefferson was the third president of the United States and author of the Declaration of Independence. He also died in Monticello on July 4th, 1826. Each July 4th, there is a special July 4th celebration at Monticello, as well as a naturalization ceremony. It starts early in the day, so you could be back in Richmond for the fireworks at Byrd Park at night.

Greater Williamsburg, Virginia
Greater Williamsburg is filled with history and Independence Day celebrations. In Colonial Williamsburg attend A Salute to the States which pays tribute to the original 13 colonies with a Fifes and Drums performance and cannon fire.  Later in the day, attend the reading of the Declaration of Independence at the Capitol building. Both events are open and free to the public. In Yorktown, attend the Annual Independence day Celebration which includes a 5K run, Sound of Liberty Bell Ringing Ceremony, musical performances, and a 4th of July fireworks display over the York River.

Cochise County, Arizona
Southeastern Arizona is home to a different kind of history, the legendary kind with heroes and villains like Wyatt Earp, and in the tradition of the old west, the 4th of July brings lots of firepower. Start with the fireworks display in Sierra Vista, the city adjacent to Fort Huachuca, an active Army post with ties to the Indian Wars of the 1800’s. It is as famous as the post in which the historic Buffalo Soldiers were stationed.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee
In Gatlinburg, attend the nation’s first parade of the day, the Annual 4th of July Midnight Parade, which starts promptly at 12:01 am on the July 4th. The parade includes a re-creation of the presidential motorcade of Franklin D. Roosevelt as it traveled through Gatlinburg to Newfound Gap in 1940. The parade will stretch more than a mile in length, and the pre-parade festivities begin early in the evening with pre-parade entertainment. The parade is part of a complete four-day weekend festival highlighting the armed services.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
There is enough history in Philadelphia for a whole summer vacation, and their celebration of America’s Birthday is just as big. The all-important Fourth of July begins with traditional ceremonies on historic Independence Mall in the morning followed by a parade through Historic Philadelphia. In the afternoon, the action moves to the cultural heart of the city—the Benjamin Franklin Parkway—for Party on the Parkway, complete with games, food and live performances. The day ends with a bang (literally) at the Welcome America festival where spectators can enjoy a free concert under the stars followed by an amazing fireworks grand finale, made even more dramatic by the majestic museum backdrop.

Boston, Massachusetts
Boston does the 4th in a big, big way! Over six days, Harborfest packs in over 200 events, including historical reenactments, walking tours, sunset harbor cruises, Chowderfest, and Children’s Day — all celebrating Boston’s colonial and maritime heritage. Start your day by walking the Freedom Trail, a 2.5 mile walking tour to 16 nationally significant historical sights. After that, learn about the 15 flags of the American Revolution at the Boston National Historical Park. Visit America’s oldest commissioned ship, the USS Constitution, and watch a full sequence of a naval gun drill or learn about Old North’s famous lanterns ”Two if by Sea”. When night falls, go to the nationally televised Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular where you can watch fireworks over the Charles River and a performance by one of the top performing musicians in the country.  For 2012, hit maker Jennifer Hudson will be taking the stage!

Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone is something you can’t truly appreciate until you’ve experienced it yourself, and what a better time to camp out and enjoy nature then 4th of July weekend. Devote at least half the day to exploring the park and its many different hydrothermal features in Upper Geyser Basin. Plan to wait a while to see the Grand Geyser erupt, but when it does it is well worth the wait with heights up to 200 feet tall. When done exploring the park, head over to the Buffalo Bill Cody Stampede Rodeo for the parades, fireworks and lots of rodeo action. While in Cody, enjoy the Wild West history and cowboy folk-lore of Buffalo Bill (Colonel William Cody), once the most famous person in the world.