The July 4th weekend has long been an all-American summer getaway. This year, that weekend may be getting longer. Since Independence Day falls on a Wednesday this year, plenty of resorts are extending their parties -- and patriotic deals -- for the full week surrounding the holiday, starting as early as June 29 and some going through July 9. The options for fun are as varied as the colors in those fireworks: head to a city for big parades and a splash of culture, sprawl on a beach blanket under the starry sky, or treat the kids to a story time led by Betsy Ross. Here's a sampling of some top packages for families this Independence Day:
TradeWinds Island Grand Resort
Where: St. Pete Beach, FL
Why: Because this beachfront property has plenty of family-friendly activities both on and off the sand. Kids can take a ride (or several) down the waterslide, play mini golf, bounce on the bungee trampoline, or listen to tales of the sea from Red Beard the pirate. For the holiday weekend, there will be dancing, carnival games, a classic American cookout, and Uncle Sam's Most Patriotic Contest, which you can win by wearing the wackiest combos of red, white, and blue. The three-night "Red, White, and Boom" package (available between July 5 and 9) starts at $209 per night for a family of four, including entertainment and buffet tickets.
Wigwam Golf Resort & Spa
Where: Litchfield Park, AZ
Why: Because this AAA four-diamond golf and spa resort is hosting the "Great American Picnic" and barbecue on July 3, and gives its hotel guests the best seats for fireworks. The recently renovated resort also has a kid's camp, tennis clinics, a full-service spa, and -- essential in the desert -- four pools and two waterslides. The two-night "Great American Picnic" package starts at $149 per night, with admission to the picnic for two adults (kids cost $8 each), and reserved seating on the fairway for fireworks. Alternatively, you can book the package for one night at $169.
Hyatt Regency Hill Country
Where: San Antonio, TX
Why: Because you don't have to be vacationing in one of the 13 original colonies to get into that 1776 spirit. This Texas-sized resort -- with two pools, a lazy river, bike trails and a bird sanctuary -- offers a few enticements for history buffs. Enjoy story time with Betsy Ross, play "George Washington Says" on the lawn, or take horse-drawn wagon rides. Kids can also make cards for soldiers overseas, or have meet-and-greets with the resort's two resident dogs, lab-golden retriever mixes. Regular rates start at $299 per night this time of year, but the "Family Stay More, Play More deal offers resort credits of $100 for two-night stays, and up to $500 for five-night stays.
Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa
Where: Thompsonville, MI
Why: Because this family-owned ski resort turns into a summer adventure playground, with Michigan's only alpine slide, a water park, and an adventure zone with tubing, kayaking, and biking. The holiday carnival kicks off on July 1 and runs all week with a moonlift chairlift ride, a pool party, a family golf scramble, a 4K fun run, a bike parade, and evening fireworks. The "Old-Fashioned Fourth" package includes 20 tickets to the carnival, complimentary ice cream cones, and free family tickets for the alpine slide, chairlift ride, and rock wall. You'll also enjoy discounts on tubing trips, the kids' club, and golf lessons. Kids can spend hours in the one-acre outdoor water playground with a lily-pad walk, a splash zone, cargo nets, and a waterslide. We found package rates that averaged $237 per night.
Where: Blaine, WA
Why: Because this lakefront golf and spa resort makes a great home base for outdoor adventure tours such as whale watching, kayaking, and fishing. The "Moo" also offers daily scavenger hunts, tennis, and swimming. When night falls, families can catch a flick at the resort's own movie theater or roast marshmallows at a beach bonfire. You can celebrate the Fourth with pony rides, family volleyball tourneys, live music, and a salmon-and-burger barbecue before the fireworks over Semiahoo Bay. The "Fourth of July Salmon BBQ" package starts at $189 per night and includes two tickets to the barbecue cookout (normally $20 each). Kids' tickets are $10 extra.
Mountain View Grand Resort and Spa
Where: Whitefield, NH
Why: Because this eco-friendly resort overlooking two mountain ranges offers scenic hiking trails, horseback riding, carriage rides, and golf. Guests can also explore the working farmhouse that's home to goats, chickens, horses, and even a llama. The festivities that last from July 1-7 include old-fashioned favorites such as a pie-eating contest and racing homemade cardboard boats. Kids even get a party of their own, with s'mores by the campfire. Fourth of July festivities include a Family Barbecue with live music and a fireworks finale. Rates that week start at $209 per night.
Hotel Del Coronado
Where: San Diego, CA
Why: Because Independence Day in this military community means a classic parade, a fun run, concerts, and fireworks. Guests at the beach resort can kick off the holiday week with a free family beach party on June 30, with live music games and an early fireworks show. To further entice kids, the resort offers family packages such as its Best of San Diego package, which starts at $324 per night and includes two passes to Sea World, the Zoo, and Safari Park.
Hilton Sandestin Beach
Where: Sandestin, FL
Why: Because this resort along Florida's northwestern coast offers white sand, three pools, bike rentals, kayaking, and snorkel-friendly waters. The resort also has a kids' program, teen activities, and family-friendly junior suites with bunk beds. Over the holiday week, there will be a giant inflatable waterslide, sunset movies, hula-hooping, and marshmallow roasting, as well as a cookout and fireworks on the Fourth. The three-night Independence Day getaway (available between June 29 and July 8) starts at $419 per night, with breakfast daily for two and the cookout dinner for two (the meals are free for kids 5 and under).
Where: Brainerd, MN
Why: Because the holiday at this family favorite on beautiful Gull Lake -- which extends from July 3 though 8 -- means horse-drawn trolley rides, beach games, bonfires with marshmallow roasting, lake cruises, bingo, evening entertainment, and a dazzling fireworks display. The resort also features a huge indoor pool, spa, and top-notch golf course. Camp Cragun's offers kids scavenger hunts, relay games, bike rides, treasure hunts, and more. Five-night Fourth of July packages start at $159 per night and include a dinner buffet, one breakfast buffet, a free round of golf, festivities, and lodging for four.
Vee Bar Guest Ranch
Where: Laramie, WY
Why: Because this guest ranch, less than three hours from Denver, offers an Old West-style celebration with hiking, fishing, riding, and more hands-on activities. Three-, six-, or seven-night stays during the summer coincide with the local Jubilee Days, featuring a rodeo, carnival, and petting zoo. At night there are barbecues, dancing, and fireworks under the stars. Year-round the ranch has a great horseback riding program, where you get assigned the same horse for your entire stay so that you can bond, just like any cowboy worth his or her salt (kids must be at least 6 to ride on his or her own). Rates start at $3,200 for three nights for a family of four ($900 per adult, $700 each for kids ages 6-18), which includes a cabin plus all meals, activities, and entertainment.
Barton Creek Resort & Spa
Where: Austin, TX
Why: Because this resort with golf, spa, and a family game room knows how to throw a relaxing party. Come hungry: the festivities (which last from June 30-July 9) offer pool games, fireworks, and plenty of food, from classic barbecue to lobster boils. Fireworks and barbecues happen on Saturday nights -- great for anyone who can't do the midweek getaway. For dates that week, we found a Sunny Side Up Family rate starting at $199, which includes breakfast daily for four, as well as milk and cookies.
Where: Pine Mountain, GA
Why: Because this nature-lovers' resort also puts on a variety of shows for the holiday: fireworks, live music, and even the FSU Flying High Circus, complete with jugglers, high-wire walkers, and trapeze acts. There will be mini golf, swimming, rock climbing, and a floating playground on Robin Lake, which features log rolls, water trampolines, and an enormous inflatable waterslide. For a break from the beach, families can visit the butterfly center, explore the resort's many nature trails, or watch the resort's Birds of Prey show. The July Fourth Star Spangled Beach Party" package, available July 3-4, starts at $159 per night and includes accommodations, a barbecue lunch, and most activities.
Where: Boston, MA
Why: Because you can't go wrong with a July 4 getaway in patriotic Beantown, and this Back Bay hotel with a rooftop pool is banking on mild temperatures. If it gets hot, however, you're in luck: When you book a two-night stay using the July 4 Summer Meltdown Package between June 29 and July 8, your first night's rate will be the regular rate ($309 for a family of four) minus the temperature as recorded at 5 pm that day by the National Weather Service (for example, if the temperature is 99, your first night's rate goes down to $210). The package also includes breakfast daily and a flag to take home. Just enter Code July4 when booking online.
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