Expert reveals best Independence Day parties in America

partyMichael Guerriero is the author of Party Across America! 101 Of the Greatest Festivals, Sporting Events, And Celebrations in the U.S. Laid off from his corporate job, Guerriero used his severance pay to fund a cross-country trip to find the best parties in America. I asked him about the top spots for this Fourth of July.

Taste of Chicago. Fourth of July in Grant Park takes place during the country’s largest food festival. After gorging yourself on Chicago’s finest cuisine, stake your claim on a piece of grass for the “1812 Overture,” which signals the start of a fireworks display that makes a KISS concert seem like child’s play. Live music and partying in Grant Park the rest of the evening.

Peachtree 10K. Atlanta’s infamous 4th of July celebration begins earlier in the day than anywhere else in the U.S. 55,000 runners arrive at Lenox Square in Buckhead at 6:30 a.m. for 6.2 mile running race called the Peachtree 10K (thousands of runners are turned away because the race fills up so quickly). The rest of Atlanta shows up in droves to watch – 150,000 spectators line the streets, stand on rooftops, and begin their Fourth of July celebrating at the crack of dawn. Resturants and bars along the race course open early, live music – and it doesn’t stop all day long. Culminating in Centennial Olympic Park, with a grand fireworks display.

Wilmington, NC. Nicknamed “Hollywood East (many movies and TV shows are filmed there), Wilmington is a picturesque and charming city on the Cape Fear River. Their Fourth of July celebration wins the prize for the “most festive small city” celebration in the U.S.

Summerfest Milwaukee. The Guinness Record holder for “the world’s largest party” is an annual music festival in Milwaukee that’s been taking place for over 40 years. Summerfest is 11 days of world cuisine and top notch music acts on the shores of Lake Michigan. 4th of July is the pinnacle of the event, which draws 800,000 people each year. The fireworks display is amazing!