5 Small Town Fourth Of July Celebrations That Are Better Than Anything You'll Find In The Big City

There are certain things that I know to be absolute, holiday truths. Halloween peaks your senior year of college, and then has a gradual decline (because togas just aren't the same on a 40-year old dad bod); New Year's Eve is most magical when celebrated in a big city with friends; small town Fourth of July celebrations are the best.

I dated a guy in college who had a lake house in middle-of-nowhere upstate New York. I went up there to visit him over one Fourth of July weekend, and it was seriously the best. We walked downtown (I say downtown, but that's being really generous) with handmade ice cream cones and browsed the local shops. And at night, we watched the fireworks from his lake dock.

Even though he turned out to be a total douche-lord, that Fourth of July is still one of my favorite summer memories. There's just something about a small town in the summertime (insert nostalgic, John Cougar Mellencamp song here).

I think that sometimes we just need to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Small towns force you to relax, slow down, and rewind life back to simpler times. The Fourth of July is the perfect time to pack your bags, load your friends into the car, and drive to a quaint town.

Here are five small cities that are perfect for celebrating America's birthday this year.

1. Boulder, Colorado

Boulder is a super cute town located about 30 miles outside of Denver. Boulder really comes alive during the summer, and features a huge fireworks show put on by Colorado University. Don't miss the artsy shops and street performers at Pearl Street Mall — and definitely don't leave without having a burger from The Sink.

2. Whitefish, Montana

Fireworks at Whitefish Lake start after dusk (which is about 10 p.m. in this part of Montana). So you literally have all day to check out the Whitefish Arts Festival, live music, and grab an award-winning huckleberry-peach pie from Loula's Cafe (#YASSS).

3. Hilton Head, South Carolina

During the day, you can sit on the water at the Salty Dog Cafe, a local treasure known for its awesome food and ice cold beer. Then, rent some bikes and ride along the gorgeous Carolina coast and take in the ocean air. During the evening, check out fireworks all across Hilton Head Island at Harbour Town, Shelter Cove Harbour, or Skull Creek.

4. Cape Cod, Massachusetts

I would be remiss if I didn't at least mention Cape Cod. There are so many small towns within the Cape that deserve recognition, so I'm just going to include the entire thing — because you really can't go wrong with fireworks, lobster rolls, and the ocean.

5. Key West, Florida

Fun fact: Key West is my favorite place in the United States. There is so, so much to do on this tiny island — but definitely don't miss Duval Street for the best shops and bars. Also, go to the Southernmost Point and get a ~*legit*~ coconut water from the vendor, because you're in Key West, and it's like a rite of passage.

Images: Ken Lund, Phil Trease, runner310, Rick Harris, Stig Nygaard/Flickr