July 4th is always one of the most popular boating weekends of the year—and therefore, you are hereby granted the ultimate excuse to make it a weekend-long boating vacation. If you’ve never celebrated America’s birthday on the water, you’re in for a treat.
From boating activities you can start planning now to ones to enjoy on the day itself, here are five ways to celebrate the Fourth of July on a boat—whether it’s your own boat, a daily rental or peer-to-peer boat, through a boat club, or even a friend or family member’s boat (if you can secure an invite! Read 7 Ways to be a Good Boat Guest).
1. Create a Patriotic Playlist
Even the youngest music fans in your family can get in on this. Come up with as many American- and freedom-themed songs you can (hint: Google is your friend), and create a fantastic Fourth of July soundtrack.
2. Plan a BBQ Onboard
Ready to fire up the grill? Gather some friends and family for a cookout on the water. Plan the menu around as many red, white, and blue foods as you can, grilling out on deck and using your galley if you’ve got one.
3. Deck Out Your Decks & Join a Boat Parade
When it comes to getting festive for the Fourth, the possibilities are endless for displaying the red, white, and blue onboard. If you have deck cushions in any of these colors, add in colorful towels or accessories in the other tones to complete the look. To go all out, fly some flags and wrap streamers around cleats, fishing rods, and more.
Coastal communities around the country are hosting patriotic-themed boat parades. Your decorating skills may earn you the shoreline crowd’s adoration—and maybe even a judges’ award.
For decorating tips, especially when it comes to lighting, read How to Decorate Your Boat for the Holidays. While these tips focus on holiday boat parades that take place during the winter months, many of these same ideas can apply for July 4th parades, too.
4. Cruise into History
If you live near a historically significant city, especially one that played a pivotal role in our nation’s independence, consider a day trip by boat. Look into marinas near battlefields, museums, and other sites of importance, and take the whole family for a renewed lesson.
5. Watch Fireworks by Boat
What would a Fourth of July by boat be without some fantastic fireworks? The water is the perfect place to see the pyrotechnics, since no large buildings or other obstructions interfere.
Additionally, since people pack together on land to watch the show, the water may be less crowded. Before heading out, you’ll want to brush up on these 10 Night Boating Tips for Safe Navigating After-Dark.