Best Cities for July 4th

Did you think freedom is free? On the 4th of July, everything from the food and beer to travel and fireworks costs big.

Check out WalletHub’s survey of the 100 largest U.S. cities, based on a comparison that balances fun and cost, to find the best Independence Day deals. Tip: consider starting in California. Seven cities made the Top 15 list.  

To arrive at your ideal 4th of July spot, decide what is most important. For instance, Richmond, Virginia, takes top spot overall. Its ranking for food and entertainment is No. 3, but it takes 20th place in attractions, recreation and outdoor activities, and 31st place for the weather forecast. The top spot in food and entertainment goes to Glendale, Arizona, which ranks 33rd for overall best cities.Best weather is a four-way for Portland. Oregon, and three California cities (see below). 

The top 15 cities overall are:

  1. Richmond, Virginia;
  2. Irvine, California;
  3. Cincinnati, Ohio;
  4. Oakland, California;
  5. Washington, District of Columbia;
  6. Fremont, California;
  7. San Bernardino, California;
  8. Irving, Texas;
  9. Long Beach, California;
  10. Riverside, California;
  11. Plano, Texas;
  12. St. Louis, Missouri;
  13. Santa Ana, California;
  14. Garland, Texas; and
  15. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


Poor Durham, North Carolina, gets the dubious distinction of being the worst place to spend the Fourth, scoring a dismal 70 in food and entertainment; 94 in attractions, recreation and outdoor activities: and 99 in the weather outlook.

Starting from last-ranked, the worst cities for the Fourth are:

  • Durham, North Carolina;
  • Anchorage, Alaska;
  • Greensboro, North Carolina;
  • Lubbock, Texas; and
  • Toledo, Ohio.

The survey also spotlights best cities by amenities, such as best weather, number of restaurants or swimming pools per capita. If the number of arts and entertainment venues is important to you, Jersey City, New Jersey, might be the place for you. On the other hand, if the lowest average price for beer and wine is what you’re after, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, might just be calling your name.

Best weather forecast for July 4th, all tied for first place:

  • Portland, Oregon;
  • Irvine, California;
  • Santa Ana, California; and 
  • Long Beach, California.

Most accommodations and food-service establishments per capita:

  • Jersey City, New Jersey;
  • Newark, New Jersey;
  • San Bernardino, California;
  • Irvine, California; and
  • Riverside, California.

Cheapest three-star hotels:

  • Jacksonville, Florida;
  • Glendale, Arizona;
  • Richmond, Virginia;
  • Louisville, Kentucky;
  • Tulsa, Oklahoma; and
  • Orlando, Florida.

Lowest average price for beer and wine:

  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin;
  • Indianapolis, Indiana;
  • Omaha, Nebraska;
  • Denver, Colorado; and
  • Aurora, Colorado.

Most arts, entertainment and recreation establishments per capita:

  • San Bernardino, California;
  • Irvine, California;
  • Jersey City, New Jersey;
  • Riverside, California; and
  • Santa Ana, California.

Cities with the most swimming pools per capita are :

  • Cleveland, Ohio;
  • Cincinnati, Ohio;
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; 
  • Washington, District of Columbia; and
  • Tucson, Arizona.

Experts added that some of the biggest wastes of money on July 4th include fireworks, because community organizations readily offer these without charge to be enjoyed by the entire community; pre-made party items (be creative and make celebration items out of materials you find at home; and thinking that you have to attend a professional sports event to have a good time.