25 Fun Ways to Celebrate the 4th of July That Don't Involve Fireworks

Jess Richardson | Jun 17, 2019 Food & Party
25 Fun Ways to Celebrate the 4th of July That Don't Involve Fireworks
Image: iStock

Blow bubbles
iStock

Look, don't get us wrong: We're all about the patriotic fun that can be had for some people with fireworks. We love the big, bold colors and the way all of it coming together seems a lot more like magic than it does chemistry. But the truth is, there are plenty of families for whom fireworks aren't a fun event -- they're frankly horrible. Plenty of people have sweet dogs in their lives who absolutely can't stand the loud noises and get very scared and upset from the first little fizz to the last bit of smoke in the sky, other people have kids who -- instead of being mesmerized by all the lights and colors, which some babies are -- get really scared by the loud sounds. It's kind of a toss-up, and doesn't mean anything about the kid, it's just random chance. Also, many people feel that even the babies who are into the light show will need ear protection to be present for that, which many families don't readily have on hand.

There's also the issue of sleep training kids. While we believe in not living by absolute rulebooks, we also believe in not disrupting a routine that has finally -- finally, finally! -- allowed us to get an actually reasonable amount of sleep every night, so staying up late for the fireworks show with a baby may not be a great fit for every parent, especially one who's gotten their kiddo off to dreamland. And then, there are older kids, teens, and parents who have anxiety, too -- some people with anxiety really don't like fireworks, and they can even trigger panic attacks. But the good news is that there are plenty of activities to get involved in on July 4th that don't involve big explosions in the sky! We put together a big list here of twenty fun options, some that require more planning than others, and all of which are completely fireworks-free. For some more fun July 4th activities, check out 10 Fourth of July Crafts Kids Can Make, which can be made in advance for showing off at the local parade, or done same-day to enjoy family time together, and Fun 4th of July Projects for the Whole Family, which can be a great way to bond on our nation's birthday.

  • Go Look For Shooting Stars

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    Go Look For Shooting Stars
    iStock

    One of the best things to do in the summer is find someplace away from as much light pollution as possible and go look for shooting stars -- or just go stargazing. Bring a star map to identify constellations, or download the free Google Sky app. 

  • Host A Big Barbecue

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    Host A Big Barbecue
    iStock

    We love having a big barbecue in the summer, and the Fourth of July is such a great reason to host a big one! Send out invites letting folks know what will be provided and what would be great to bring (everyone has a side dish they want to show off)!

  • Organize A Neighborhood Soccer Match

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    Organize A Neighborhood Soccer Match
    iStock

    The key to enjoying Independence Day without fireworks -- especially with kids who have lots of energy -- is getting outside, getting sweaty, and having a great time before the fireworks start. A big neighborhood soccer match (or a family one!) is great for tiring out kiddos (and creating special bonding memories).

  • Plan A Picnic In A Local Park (...Just Not The Fireworks One)

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    Plan A Picnic In A Local Park (...Just Not The Fireworks One)
    iStock

    Find out which park is having the fireworks, and then plan a picnic with friends and family in the park on the other side of town. It'll be less crowded and it still feels really celebratory and fun -- plus, the kids can get into a water balloon fight since it's all outdoors!

  • Go Bowling

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    Go Bowling
    iStock

    Some bowling alleys may be closed on July 4th, but others have holiday specials for the whole family. If the bowling alley in town is closed, however, it's also always fun to set up pin bowling in the backyard!

  • Take a Beach Holiday

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    Take a Beach Holiday
    iStock

    Whether there's an ocean or a lake nearby, celebrating the holiday around the water is a super-fun treat for the whole family. Pack a cooler full of rocket pops, red and blue juices, and other fun snacks, and enjoy a day at the shore!

  • Blow Bubbles

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    Blow Bubbles
    iStock

    So fireworks may not be an option, but why not load up on tons of bubbles? They're fun for kids of basically all ages, and for a fun nighttime option, consider making this inexpensive, super-fun glow-in-the-dark bubble solution.

  • Make It A Movie Night

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    Make It A Movie Night
    iStock

    Whether this involves stringing up a white bedsheet in the backyard and using a projector or just snuggling up on the couch with a big bowl of popcorn, a family movie night is a fantastic, bonding way to celebrate the holiday!

  • Make Red White And Blue Slime

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    Make Red White And Blue Slime
    iStock

    Someday, this slime trend is going to die a well-earned, but for now, why not indulge it once in a (red, white, and) blue moon? This recipe for star-spangled slime (those are words we never thought we'd be typing) is safe enough, and kids will adore it. 

  • Go Fishing

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    Go Fishing
    iStock

    Take a little family trip to go fishing in a local lake or river. Whether or not anything is caught (or kept), fishing is always a fun excuse for a picnic by the water and learning some good skills -- and fun time outside is never wasted. 

  • Turn The Backyard Into A Water Park

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    Wet N' Wild Mega Melon Ball Jumbo Sprinkler
    Target

    There are a ton of different, increasingly complex ways to set up a backyard as a little mini waterpark -- and we believe in going all-out if that's what feels good -- but we also love this super inexpensive, adorable watermelon sprinkler. 

    Wet N' Wild Mega Melon Ball Jumbo Sprinkler ($20, Target) 

  • Check Out The Local Parade

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    Check Out The Local Parade
    iStock

    Way before the fireworks happen, usually in the later morning or early afternoon, there's almost always a little local parade in every town and city across the country. Make streamers or wave little flags!

  • Shoot Off Paper Confetti Poppers

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    Shoot Off Paper Confetti Poppers
    iStock

    These DIY Confetti Poppers for The Fourth of July are such a fun craft project to do with kids! We love that they reuse old toilet paper rolls, too -- this is basically the definition of upcycling. They make a fun, light pop -- way less scary than fireworks.

  • Break Out The Sparklers

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    Break Out The Sparklers
    iStock

    Unlike fireworks, sparklers don't tend to cause anxiety in people or animals -- and they're so pretty

  • Host A Fireworks-Free Neighborhood Bash

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    Host A Neighborhood Bash
    iStock

    There are always more people in the community who don't want to be around fireworks! Invite folks over for a simple get-together. This can be a potluck, or something simple -- a spread of lemonade and cupcakes is always adorable.

  • Have A Water Fight

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    Have A Water Fight
    iStock

    When it's hot as heck in the summer and the kids are bursting with energy, fun with water balloons is always a good idea. Have a water fight in a local park or in the backyard, and invite any classmates or neighbors who are in town, too!

  • Go Camping

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    Go Camping
    iStock

    It's not the most traditional way to celebrate Independence Day, but really, what better way is there to celebrate our nation than to do it in one of our breathtaking national parks? Go camping with the family and enjoy the beauty of America!

  • Throw A Garden Party With Lawn Games

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    Throw A Garden Party With Lawn Games
    iStock

    Why not set up a little garden party with lawn games like bocce, badminton, and croquet. Do it in the backyard or a local park, and bring iced tea in thermoses packed with plenty of ice to keep everyone cool!

  • Make a DIY 4th of July Balloon Game

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    Make a DIY 4th of July Balloon Game
    iStock

    One truth of this holiday and every other day of the year: Lots of money sure doesn't buy happiness, and some of the best fun in life to be had can happen for free or very, very inexpensively. This adorable game involves nothing more than paper plates, balloons, popsicle sticks, and some paint. 

  • Bake A Big Batch of Patriotic Cookies

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    Bake A Big Batch of Patriotic Cookies
    iStock

    Looking for a good activity for kids when it's raining all Fourth of July -- or the fireworks just aren't an option for another reason? Consider making these charming cookies with the family -- kids will love playing with the fondant!

  • Pin It!

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    Fun ways to celebrate the 4th July that don't involve fireworks Pinterest image

    Add this graphic to your Pinterest boards as your reference guide to celebrate the 4th of July without fireworks.

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