Parade Winners

Seven Best Fourth of July Parades in America (Photos)

The best part about Independence Day parades? Small-town celebrations often rival big-city productions.

Bristol, Rhode Island

Bristol is home to the oldest 4th of July celebration in the country, dating back to 1785, when a reverend of the First Congregational Church conducted the initial pomp and circumstances. Each year, America’s birthday celebration starts early—on Flag Day (June 14)—and concludes with a 2.5-mile parade on the 4th of July.


by Lauren Viera

Washington, D.C.

As you might expect from a 4th of July parade through the nation’s capital, it’s all here—marching bands, military units, floats, political celebrities, and loads of colonial re-enactors hamming it up. The National Independence Day Parade route begins at Constitution Avenue and 7th Street, and heads west past the Smithsonian (which has hosted the Folklife Festival on parade day) to conclude at 17th Street.

Alameda, California

This East Bay city has won some accolades over the years for its hometown-style celebration of the 4th of July. With more than 170 floats and 2,500 participants parading approximately three miles, it’s the longest parade route in the country, drawing more than 20,000 onlookers eager for glimpses of everything from rifle squads to a horse ballet.

Aptos, California

This quaint seaside town several miles east of Santa Cruz is proud of its claim to the World’s Shortest Parade—just .6 miles, cutting through the Village Square. Festivities kick off for the 50th annual parade with a morning pancake breakfast, and although the parade spans just over a half mile, it’s jam-packed with activity.

Cooperstown, New York

One of the oldest parades in the country, Cooperstown’s Grand Old Fourth at the Farmers’ Museum features throwback décor as a nod to its early-1800s heyday. Cooperstown’s events dovetail with celebrations in nearby Oneonta and Springfield, which is hosting its 99th parade this year. Live bands, BBQ dinner trains, and the spirit of the 19th century are all alive at this trifecta of small-town celebrations.

Bend, Oregon

Central Oregon’s resort haven is known for its Old Fashioned July 4th Festival and Pet Parade, which has been this modest-sized town’s tradition since the 1930s. Kids and their pets are the stars, with parents pulling wagons occupied by everything from dogs to lizards and goats.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Arguably the most patriotic 4th of July parade in the nation, Philly’s annual Independence Day Parade involves more than 5,000 participants from a dozen states, and is just one of many Wawa Welcome America! festival events that take place in the historic city from July 1 through July 7.


More from Condé Nast Traveler:

Independence Day: Traveling More, Spending Less

Reader Photos: July 4th Fireworks Across the Country

Happy Birthday, America: This Is Why We Love You