Where: National Harbor, Maryland.
Why: Because you can see firsthand why this waterside hotel's Fourth of July celebration drew more than 10,000 people last summer. The holiday festival kicks off with live musical entertainment, clowns, balloon artists, jugglers, plenty of cotton candy and popcorn. Kids can play in a bounce house and take a ride on the Ferris wheel or carousel before cooling off in the Olympic-size pool.
Finally, to truly evoke the patriotic spirit, there will be a fountain show followed by a dazzling fireworks display over the Potomac with the Washington skyline in the background. The "Fourth of July Celebration" package is priced from $199 a night and includes accommodations, free parking (normally $19), and admission to the holiday events and entertainment (normally $30 per adult and $15 per child). Carnival rides are an additional charge.
Where: Pine Mountain, Georgia.
Why: Because the circus is coming to town for the holiday weekend, with daring trapeze acts, tight-wire walks, and juggling routines. There will also be mini golf, swimming, rock climbing, a spider jump, live music concerts, fireworks and a floating playground on Robin Lake featuring log rolls, water trampolines and an enormous inflatable water slide.
For a break from the beach, families can visit the butterfly center, explore the resort's many nature trails, or see wildlife first hand at the Birds of Prey show. The "July Fourth Star Spangled Beach Party" package starts at $159 a night and includes accommodations, a barbecue lunch, red, white and blue pancakes the morning of the Fourth, and most activities.
Where: Blaine, Washington.
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, swimming, and when night falls, families can catch a flick at the resort's own movie theater or roast marshmallows at a beach bonfire.
Celebrate the Fourth with live music and a salmon and burger barbecue before snagging a seat for the fireworks show over Semiahmoo Bay. The "Fourth of July Salmon BBQ" package starts at $209 a night and includes two tickets to the barbecue cookout (normally $20 each). Kids' tickets are $10 extra.
Where: Whitefield, New Hampshire.
Why: Because this eco-friendly resort overlooking two mountain ranges boasts a slew of scenic hiking trails and a location that's perfect for families who love the Great Outdoors. In addition to horseback riding, carriage rides, and golf, guests can take a short stroll over to a working farmhouse that's home to goats, chickens, horses, and even a llama.
The holiday weekend roundup features old-fashioned favorites like water-balloon relay races, a pie-eating contest, tug o' war, and potato sack races. Kids can get their faces painted before heading to a party of their own for dinner, ice cream sundaes, and s'more roasts by the campfire. Rounding out the weekend will be the "Family Bluegrass Barbecue" with live music and a fireworks finale. Rates for the "Independence Weekend Celebration" start at $189 a night and include most activities. The barbecue and kids' party are an additional charge.