The Best and Worst Cities to Spend the 4th of July

Credit: Steven Depolo.

Are you in a rut? Do you spend every Independence Day at home or nearby, out of habit? That's the case for many people, but the nice folks at have helpfully provided a list of the best (and worst) cities in America for celebrating the Fourth of July. See how your city ranks and whether you might want to be somewhere else for the festivities -- you might not only have a better time, but you could save money, as well.

Where and how you spend the Fourth of July is not as minor an issue as you might think. Consider that WalletHub estimates that average spending for the day will be about $330, which tops last year's level by 10% and exceeds 2012's level by a whopping 72%. That might be a sign of an improving economy, and it might also have to do with the Fourth falling on a Friday, permitting a long weekend of celebrations. 

Fun (and financial) factors
So what factors did WalletHub assess when evaluating the top 100 cities in America? There are 14 of them: Fourth of July popularity; weather; the price of a 3-star hotel; number of bars and restaurants; number of arts, entertainment and recreation establishments; walkability; traffic congestion; legality of fireworks; average drink prices; average gas prices; acres of parkland per capita; swimming pools per capita; and basketball hoops per capita. Most were equally weighted, but basketball hoops counted for less, while walkability and arts, entertainment, and recreation counted for more, and weather counted the most.

For weather, the forecast for the fourth as of June 23 were used, with mild and dry weather favored. Popularity reflects cities with reputations for taking the holiday seriously. Bristol, Rhode Island, is too small to have made the list, but as an example, it hosts the longest continuously held Independence Day celebration in America, dating back to 1785 and drawing big crowds for its parade. Boston, ranked No. 39, hosts its annual Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular along the Charles River, while Washington, D.C., ranked No. 5, offers a parade and a star-studded concert on the mall, with fireworks. Richmond, Va., in the top spot, hosts what is reportedly the state's largest  fireworks display, along with an annual outdoor concert and more.

Winner and losers
So which cities have the most to offer, and which the least? Here are the top 10 and bottom 10, out of America's 100 largest cities:

Top 10:

1. Richmond, Va.
2. Irvine, Calif.
3. Cincinnati, Ohio
4. Oakland, Calif.
5. Washington, D.C.
6. Fremont, Calif.
7. San Bernardino, Calif.
8. Irving, Texas
9. Long Beach, Calif.
10. Riverside, Calif.

Bottom 10:

91. Corpus Christi, Texas
92. Chesapeake, Va.
93. Louisville, Ky.
94. Charlotte, N.C.
95. Winston-Salem, N.C.
96. Toledo, Ohio
97. Lubbock, Texas
98. Greensboro, N.C.
99. Anchorage, Alaska
100. Durham, N.C.

If you live in an American city, click here to see if your town made the list and how it ranks.

Save and enjoy
You might think getting out of town isn't cost-effective, as a plane ticket and hotel costs will add up. But if you were going to travel anyway, perhaps to New York City, to take in its Macy's Fourth of July fireworks show, you might give some other destinations a thought. New York City ranked 73rd on the WalletHub list, and while it scores high on walkability and arts, its hotel costs are quite high.

Even if you're staying put for the Fourth, you might still save money, perhaps by budgeting. Figure out how much you want to spend on the holiday and then spend no more. Take advantage of big sales at the supermarket, buy foods and beverages in bulk, buy balloons instead of ice sculptures, and consider making your celebration with friends and family a potluck affair. If you're going to buy fireworks (and use them safely!), then try to buy them on the fourth itself, as prices may be marked down.

To save much, much more, apply the spirit of independence to your personal finances. You can take steps today or any day to bring yourself closer to financial independence. These include getting out of debt, building an emergency fund, taking advantage of retirement accounts such as 401(k)s and IRAs, saving for college, and investing effectively.

Declare independence from unnecessary taxes, too!
Between July 4 and April 15, you can do a lot to lower your taxes. In our brand-new special report "The IRS Is Daring You to Make This Investment Now!," you'll learn about a simple strategy to take advantage of a little-known IRS rule. Don't miss out on advice that could help you cut taxes for decades to come. Click here to learn more.

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Selena Maranjian

Selena Maranjian has been writing for the Fool since 1996 and covers basic investing and personal finance topics. She also prepares the Fool's syndicated newspaper column and has written or co-written a number of Fool books. For more financial and non-financial fare (as well as silly things), follow her on Twitter...

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