Celebrate Fourth of July in Orlando

From spectacular fireworks shows and savory barbecue to refreshing pool parties and ice-cold brews, Orlando offers everything you need for a festive fourth.

Fireworks & Festivals

Disney’s picturesque town of Celebration lives up to its name with a free all-day celebration on July 4. Starting at 9 a.m. is the town’s community parade with organizations, families and even dogs marching from Town Hall down Market Street to the lakefront. Starting at 4 p.m., Celebration Town Center kicks off “A Sci-Fi 4th of July” street party featuring a costume contest, live music, bounce houses for kids, food vendors and a magnificent fireworks display at 9:05 p.m. celebrationtowncenter.com

In the heart of downtown Orlando at Lake Eola, Mayor Buddy Dyer invites citizens and out-of-towners alike to celebrate the 40th annual Fireworks at the Fountain starting at 4 p.m. Children can let out some energy on the playground, feed the swans, and participate in special events, while parents can enjoy plenty of food and beverages and listen to live music. Stay for the grand finale with fireworks at 9:10 p.m. cityoforlando.net

Of course Walt Disney World hosts amazing fireworks displays every single night of the year, but for the Fourth of July you can catch special themed shows at the Magic Kingdom at 9 p.m. and Hollywood Studios at 10 p.m. LegoLand and SeaWorld are also hosting fireworks shows especially for the holiday. For those who don’t want to pay theme-park admission, you can catch a glimpse of Epcot’s fireworks from Disney’s Boardwalk, and you can see the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the rooftop restaurant Capa at the Four Seasons resort, or from the free ferry on the Seven Seas Lagoon at the transportation center. disneyworld.disney.go.com

Brews & Barbecue

Orlando chefs have scoured the country to draw from the best culinary traditions from the Southeast, Texas and the Midwest for some sensational barbecue. 4 Rivers, now with six area locations from Winter Park to downtown Orlando to Kissimmee, is a current winner of Orlando magazine’s Dining Awards. Choose from their “old school” options like brisket and smoked chicken with home-style sides like mac and cheese and collard greens. The signature stackers are also a real handful, like the Messy Pig and the Texas Destroyer. Make sure you save room for dessert with irresistible options from the Sweet Shop. 4rsmokehouse.com

Tony Roma’s on I-Drive is another family favorite featured in Orlando magazine’s Dining Awards for its amazing ribs. Tony's Buffalo Ribs are coated in Ritz Crackers before being fried and tossed in fiery sauce. Other favorites are the baby back ribs, St. Louis ribs and Pork-Strami ribs rubbed with a house-made pastrami seasoning and finished with an agave mustard glaze. The recently renovated restaurant is convenient to all the attractions in the tourism corridor like the Coca-Cola Orlando Eye. tonyromas.com

There are lots of great places to grab a beer in Orlando, but you should definitely tap into Crooked Can Brewery. Located inside Winter Garden’s Plant Street Market, Crooked Can joins other artisan vendors in selling locally made products. At least half a dozen beers are always on tap with a featured seasonal brew. After a pint (or two), stroll Winter Garden’s old-fashioned main street for a wholesome taste of Americana. crookedcan.com

Pool Parties

Whether you’re booking a staycation or a vacation for Fourth of July weekend, you’ll want to check out these properties with amazing, over-the-top pools. The Gaylord Palms Resort near Disney World and Celebration has just opened Cypress Springs Water Park, complete with water slides, sprayground and dumping buckets for kids, zero-entry pool and a surfing simulator. gaylordpalms.com

Over at Universal, the Hard Rock Hotel offers one rocking pool scene. The sandy bottom pool is a hit with the whole family, along with an underwater sound system so you never miss a beat. Enjoy parties, a DJ and fun pool-side activities throughout the day along with drink service and private cabanas. hardrockhotels.com

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