There’s nothing more American than going all out on Fourth of July. We grill, we drink and we blow stuff up — all in the name of freedom. But freedom is not free. Everything from hotdogs to travel to hospital bills following fireworks accidents costs major scratch. In fact, the National Retail Federation projects that American households this year will spend a collective $6.8 billion — down from last year’s $6.9 billion — on Fourth of July food alone.
So in order to help Americans find the best and cheapest places to celebrate this star-spangled occasion, WalletHub compared the 100 largest U.S. cities based on how well they balance holiday cost and fun. Our data set of 20 key metrics ranges from average beer and wine prices to duration of fireworks shows to Fourth of July weather forecast. Read on for the complete ranking, followed by expert money-saving tips and our full methodology.
Make sure to also check out WalletHub’s 4th of July Facts & Figures infographic for fun facts about the holiday.
Best Places to Celebrate 4th of July
|Overall Rank (1 = Best)||City||Total Score||‘Fourth of July Celebrations’ Rank||‘Affordability’ Rank||‘Attractions & Activities’ Rank||‘Safety & Accessibility’ Rank||‘Fourth of July Weather’ Rank|
|1||New York, NY||74.01||2||74||1||2||56|
|2||Los Angeles, CA||73.08||1||55||32||33||45|
|3||San Diego, CA||68.63||12||66||5||24||16|
|5||Las Vegas, NV||68.52||11||2||20||52||33|
|9||San Francisco, CA||62.74||21||86||3||18||33|
|10||St. Louis, MO||62.26||14||38||14||55||72|
|11||New Orleans, LA||62.15||7||61||8||43||83|
|33||Fort Worth, TX||55.04||20||34||63||85||39|
|34||Long Beach, CA||54.85||38||56||45||13||45|
|35||San Jose, CA||54.62||28||53||56||21||45|
|37||St. Paul, MN||54.34||36||72||30||28||69|
|45||San Antonio, TX||53.12||15||5||58||68||94|
|50||North Las Vegas, NV||51.56||44||68||55||63||33|
|56||Virginia Beach, VA||49.66||59||75||27||16||79|
|59||Kansas City, MO||48.07||39||62||53||81||65|
|67||Oklahoma City, OK||47.26||73||4||80||56||53|
|68||Santa Ana, CA||47.14||50||82||74||29||33|
|70||Fort Wayne, IN||46.57||65||77||88||50||7|
|76||Colorado Springs, CO||44.62||85||78||46||78||56|
|79||Jersey City, NJ||44.00||91||85||77||1||56|
|81||St. Petersburg, FL||43.77||81||57||40||82||85|
|87||El Paso, TX||42.28||56||50||72||41||95|
|88||Baton Rouge, LA||41.98||71||23||49||100||90|
|92||Chula Vista, CA||41.15||66||95||97||26||24|
|93||Corpus Christi, TX||41.14||70||94||47||59||88|
|100||San Bernardino, CA||34.33||74||97||100||97||56|
As Americans, we value our freedom a lot, judging by the amount of money we spend on Fourth of July festivities. But there are ways to strut your patriotic stuff — and have a great time doing it — without breaking the bank. For money-saving advice, we asked a panel of experts for their thoughts on the following key questions:
- What money-saving tips do you have for people planning to travel for the Fourth of July?
- Fourth of July falls on a Thursday this year. How does holiday timing affect people’s spending and travel plans?
- Should cities invest in a large fireworks display and/or parade in order to attract tourists and generate new economic activity? Is there a good return on investment?
- When evaluating the best cities for Fourth of July celebrations, what are the top five indicators?
Ask the Experts
To determine the best and worst cities for celebrating Independence Day, WalletHub compared the 100 most populated U.S. cities across five key dimensions: 1) Fourth of July Celebrations, 2) Affordability, 3) Attractions & Activities, 4) Safety & Accessibility and 5) Fourth of July Weather Forecast.
We evaluated those dimensions using 20 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most favorable conditions for Independence Day fun. For metrics marked with an asterisk (*), the square root of the population was used to calculate the population size in order to avoid overcompensating for minor differences across cities.
Finally, we determined each city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample. Please note that our sample considers only the city proper in each case and excludes cities in the surrounding metro area.
Fourth of July Celebrations – Total Points: 40
- Fourth of July Popularity: Full Weight (~6.15 Points)
- Legality of Fireworks: Full Weight (~6.15 Points)
- Number of Fourth of July Festivals & Performances: Full Weight (~6.15 Points)
Note: Based on Fourth of July events listed on Eventbrite.com as of May 27, 2019.
- Party Suppliers per Capita*: Half Weight (~3.08 Points)
- Average Price of Fourth of July Party Ticket: Full Weight (~6.15 Points)
Note: Averages are based on Fourth of July events listed on Eventbrite.com as of May 27, 2019, where at least two events were available.
- Duration of Fireworks Show: Full Weight (~6.15 Points)
- Google Search Interest for “4th of July Celebration”: Full Weight (~6.15 Points)
Note: This metric measures the real intent of the population to find information about “4th of July Events Near Me”, “4th of July Parade” and “4th of July Activities”.
Affordability – Total Points: 15
- Prevalence of Affordable 4.5+ Star Restaurants: Full Weight (~3.75 Points)
- Average Hamburger Cost: Full Weight (~3.75 Points)
- Average Beer & Wine Prices: Full Weight (~3.75 Points)
Note: “Beer” refers to a six-pack of 12-ounce Heineken containers, excluding any deposit. “Wine” refers to a 1.5-liter bottle of Chablis, Chenin Blanc or any white table wine.
- Lowest Price of a Three-Star Hotel: Full Weight (~3.75 Points)
Attractions & Activities – Total Points: 15
Note: This metric is based on WalletHub’s “Best & Worst Cities for Recreation” ranking of 100 cities’ entertainment options, recreational facilities and parks quality. The ranking includes 45 total metrics such as music venues per capita, parks spending per capita and movie costs.
Safety & Accessibility – Total Points: 15
- Walkability: Full Weight (~2.50 Points)
- Access to Public Transportation: Full Weight (~2.50 Points)
Note: This metric measures the share of commuters who use public transit.
- Traffic Congestion: Full Weight (~2.50 Points)
- Pedestrian Fatalities per Capita: Full Weight (~2.50 Points)
- Crime Rate (Neighborhood Security): Full Weight (~2.50 Points)
- DUI-Related Fatalities (July) per Capita: Full Weight (~2.50 Points)
Fourth of July Weather Forecast – Total Points: 15
- Difference Between Forecasted Temperature & Normal Temperature for Fourth of July: Full Weight (~5.00 Points)
Note: For this metric, the city was penalized if its forecasted temperature on Fourth of July is colder than the holiday’s average temperature.
- Forecasted Precipitations for Fourth of July: Double Weight (~10.00 Points)
- YouTube (for web embedding National)
- YouTube (for web embedding New York)
- Raw files (for editing into clips)
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Council for Community and Economic Research, Priceline.com, Federal Bureau of Investigations, INRIX, American Pyrotechnics Association, WalkScore, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Eventbrite, AccuWeather, Google Ads, Kayak.com, Yelp, each city’s local tourism office and WalletHub research.
Image: Cheryl Casey / Shutterstock.com