What could be better than celebrating the 4th of July with family members, good friends, delicious food and the great outdoors? Finding a way to take that celebration to the beach.
All across the nation, beach towns are gearing up for fun events in and around their respective coasts, from fireworks displays and festivals to parades and parties. Check out just a handful of the great beach gatherings planned for this weekend.
Huntington Beach, CA: Pier Plaza
Festival, Parade and Fireworks
You get more bang for your Independence Day buck at Huntington Beach's multi-event July 4th extravaganza. The day starts with the annual Independence Day Parade, a lively stream of marching bands, floats and high-profile local celebrities proceeding from the Pacific Coast Highway through downtown Huntington Beach.
Later, a free fireworks show dazzles audiences up and down the coast. And finally, the three-day Festival at Pier Plaza offers entertainment, food vendors, kids' activities, a 5K run and a pancake breakfast.
Delray Beach, FL: Classic July 4th Celebration
Like sand-sculpting? Mini golf? Water slides? It doesn't sound like your traditional July 4th celebration, but Delray Beach's annual party aims to impress.
This free event held on A1A and E. Atlantic Ave. starts in the morning with a sand-sculpting competition. Later in the afternoon, the beer garden opens up so early birds can get a head start before the fireworks display at 9 p.m.
Throughout the day, beach-goers will enjoy live music on the main stage, food and snack vendors, putt-putt golf at the mini golf course and a Splash Zone with water slides and games. Not a bad day at the beach!
Waveland, MS: Waveland Picnic and Fireworks
The little Gulf town of Waveland, Mississippi is pretty excited about its Independence Day beach barbecue and party, and with good reason: the town was recently chosen as the winner of USA Today and Destination America's "Red, White and You" contest.
With the $50,000 prize, Waveland is hosting a huge bash featuring a cookout, live entertainment and a fireworks display.
Waveland was nearly destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and officials are hoping the event will help put the town back on the map.
Cape Ann, MA: Independence Day Celebrations
Another town not to be overshadowed on the nation's birthday, Cape Ann, which bills itself as "America's Oldest Seaport and Art Colony," has got quite a lot planned for the 3rd and 4th.
The festivities start on Friday evening with a parade and a fireworks display over Gloucester Harbor.
On Saturday, two more parades make their way through town, followed in the evening by a concert from the Rockport Legion Band and a bonfire at 9 p.m., both taking place at Back Beach.
Carolina Beach, NC: Independence Day Fireworks
If you like live music and fireworks by the sea, you'd be a fan of the festivities planned for July 2nd in Carolina Beach.
The gazebo on the Carolina Beach Boardwalk will play host to "Southern Trouble," a local band performing country and southern rock starting at sunset.
At 9 p.m., families gathered along the beach will be treated to a thrilling display of fireworks. Both events are free and open to all.
Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain, GA:
Star-Spangled Beach Party
Just because a beach is nowhere near the ocean doesn't mean it can't host a first-rate party.
From Friday through Sunday, Robin Lake Beach will be the site of the annual July 4th Star-Spangled Beach Party, which includes games, concessions, circus performances, a beach bar, live music, and of course, a fireworks extravaganza.
Beware, however, that this event does not come free; check out the admission fees here.