Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday, dear Americaaaaa…happy birthday to you!
That’s right, summer’s favorite holiday is here: the Fourth of July! Are you ready to celebrate?
A Brief History of Independence Day
First, a little history.
Did you know that Independence Day has only been an official federal holiday since 1941? It’s true!
You probably know this one: the United States has been celebrating our independence from Great Britain since 1776 and the official signing of the Declaration of Independence.
But the first “official” celebration was in Philadelphia on July 4, 1777, one year after the Declaration was signed.
Fun Fact: John Adams adamantly believed that America’s independence should have been celebrated on the second of July, instead of the fourth. He was known to even refuse invitations to Independence parties that were held on the fourth! Famously, John Adams died in 1826 – on July the fourth. (Thomas Jefferson also died on this day.)
But enough about history – you’re on vacation on the Florida Gulf Coast, and you want to know where the party is at!
4th of July Events in Sarasota
Fireworks on the Lake
If you want to get the party started a little early, don’t miss out on these fireworks at Nathan Benderson Park.
There will be music, food, and, of course, fireworks! You don’t want to miss out on the 4 Miler Race around the lake, plus dashes for kids!
Where: Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota
When: 6:00 pm on July 3
Fourth of July Concert
Do you love choral music? Then you won’t want to miss “Sounds of Independence” at the Sarasota Opera House.
The Sarasota Concert Band will also be in attendance and the concert will feature a variety of “patriotic selections.” Tickets range from $5 – $45.
Where: Sarasota Opera House
When: 4:00 pm on July 4
A Pioneer Fourth
If you want to dig into history to celebrate Independence Day, then A Pioneer Fourth is for you.
Join the Historic Spanish Point museum for a reading of the Declaration of Independence and a pioneer sing-a-long. Afterwards, be sure to stay for the BYOB picnic!
Where: Historic Spanish Point
When: 11:00 am on July 4
Fireworks Spectacular over Sarasota Bay
Just like it says on the tin, these fireworks are spectacular. As admission is free, this is a great event for the whole family.
The fireworks display can be seen from anywhere downtown (like Bayfront Park and Island Park), but the best seat is definitely from a boat in Sarasota Bay.
Where: Sarasota Bay
When: Dusk/9:00 pm on July 4
Fourth of July Events in Siesta Key
4th of July Fireworks Display
With an average of 20,000 – 30,000 in attendance, the 29th Annual Fireworks Display in Siesta Key is one of the biggest and best in the area.
The fireworks blast off just north of the volleyball courts on Siesta Key beach, so choosing a good spot to watch from is easy! The show can be seen from Crescent Beach, on a boat in the Gulf, or from the intracoastal waterway.
Where: Siesta Key
When: Around 9:00 pm on July 4
Fourth of July Events in Longboat Key
Annual Freedom Fest
Hot diggity dog! It’s the Independence Day event you don’t want to miss: The Annual Freedom Fest and Hot Diggity Dog Parade.
Who doesn’t love a parade? Especially one with Uncle Sam!
After the parade, there will be plenty of food, activities, and games in Bicentennial Park.
Where: Longboat Key Town Hall
When: 9:00 am on July 4
Fourth of July Events on Anna Maria Island
4th of July Parade
If you’re on the island, you’re in for a treat with the Privateers annual 4th of July Parade.
Starting at Coquina Beach, the parade route is seven miles long and full of patriotic fun. Set up a chair anywhere along the route and enjoy the show!
Where: Anna Maria Island, Coquina Beach to City Pier.
When: 10:00 am on July 4
4th of July Extravaganza
If you’re a regular to Anna Maria Island, then you know that the Sandbar has some of the best eats on the island. But it also has one of the best Fourth of July parties.
And this year, it’s a double party! The restaurant is celebrating its 40th anniversary along with the 33rd annual fireworks extravaganza.
For the mouthwatering menu and ticket prices, see their website.
Where: The Sandbar Restaurant
When: 6:00 pm on July 4
Fourth of July Events in Bradenton
Independence Day Buffet & Fireworks
If you don’t mind spending a little money, the Pier 22 Independence Day Buffet and Fireworks is an event you don’t want to miss.
Premium water from the Manatee River viewing plus a pig roast? It doesn’t get much better.
Where: Pier 22
When: 6:00 pm on July 4
Locals Hint: the Pier 22 party is great fun, but it’s not the only spot to see fireworks in Bradenton. Find a spot on the Manatee River Riverwalk, pull up a chair or picnic blanket, and settle in for a beautiful display over the river.
With so many choices, you’re sure to have the best Fourth of July yet!
How will you celebrate Independence Day? Let us know in the comments!
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