Travelers across North Carolina can find everything under the summer sun for July 4th day trips, four-day weekends and full vacations. Eye-popping fireworks and colorful events tap Independence Day spirit amid fresh mountain air, balmy sea breezes and urban cool.
“The nation’s birthday absolutely calls for celebration,” said Wit Tuttell, Director of Marketing in the North Carolina Department of Commerce’s tourism division. “And North Carolina destinations celebrate in ways that reflect our heritage and independent spirit.”
With the Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry back on its regular route, beach lovers can travel along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore with ease. Sand from a January storm has been cleared from the channel, and the ferry is now making 32 daily trips in each direction. In Western North Carolina, highway crews finished clean-up from a January landslide on U.S. 441 near Cherokee in mid-April — a month ahead of schedule.
At VisitNC.com, the state tourism website, travelers can find scores of events that light up the sky from the coast to the mountains. For example:
- In Wilmington, Battleship Blast creates an awesome sight along the riverfront. The 20-minute fireworks display serves as a stand-in for “bombs bursting in air” over the U.S.S. North Carolina, World War II’s most decorated U.S. battleship.
- In Raleigh, visitors will get The ’Works, an all-day celebration with music, food and drink, street performers, kids rides and games. Festivities are capped by a fireworks display over the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts.
- In Blowing Rock, Tweetsie Railroad ends a day of theme park fun (rides, shows, a Wild West Train Adventure) with fireworks. Viewing options range from the Hacienda (after a dinner buffet) to the parking lot.
American originals are also accounted for. The Liberty Parade in Todd features inspired costumes and larger-than-life puppets. Wilkesboro mounts a parade of emergency vehicles before the fireworks go up, and festivities in Franklin include a plunger toss.
Travelers can build an extended stay around a one-day event or choose a ready-made option that runs beyond the Fourth. Pinehurst has designed a July 4th Family Weekend package that stretches from July 2 to July 7. Fontana Village Resort’s celebration runs even longer, from June 28 to July 7, and dovetails with the Motors, Moonshiners & Mountaineers Heritage Festival in neighboring Robbinsville. The holiday also coincides with centennial celebrations at the storied Grove Park Inn in Asheville and Lake Junaluska, the Methodist conference and retreat center near Maggie Valley.
North Carolina has been commemorating Independence Day in earnest for 230 years. In 1783, Gov. Alexander Martin responded to a resolution from the General Assembly and proclaimed July 4th as a day of thanksgiving. Historians believe that he was the first governor to issue such a proclamation.