Sure, you can go big 'n' splashy for July 4th. New Jersey hosts some of the best (and biggest) July 4th fireworks around, from Atlantic City to Jersey City to great beach spots. But why not try a celebration in a small town? They may not have Macy's fireworks, but the charm, the history, the food, and the Americana feel may more than make up for the loss of crowds, noise and, well, crowds.
Check out some of our favorite small town New Jersey July 4th celebrations below that come complete with parades, fun runs, antique car shows, and so much more than just fireworks! And for more summer awesomeness, check out our New Jersey Kids Summer Activities Guide and the newly minted July GoList with all the best things to do with kids in July. Of course, you can find even more July 4th fun in our Event Calendar.
Lebanon 4th of July Parade, Lebanon NJ
The Annual Lebanon Borough 4th of July Parade is one of the oldest July 4th parades in New Jersey. The celebration also features a baby and bike parade, a patriotic house decorating contest, antique car show with cars from the 1920′s to the 1970′s, boy/girl scout troops, floats, live music, fire trucks and rescue vehicles.
Mercer County Freedom Festival, West Windsor NJ
Freedom Festival is one of the earliest Independence Day celebrations in the state every year. This large festival is held in Mercer County Park in West Windsor Township. It is an all-day event featuring a wide range of activities for the entire family—water rides and inflatables for the kids, tethered hot air balloon rides, local food vendors, live entertainment, local crafts, a beer and wine garden, a mechanical bull and of course fireworks at 9:30.
Mayor's 4th of July Celebration, Summit NJ
Each year, Summit residents gather at Soldier's Memorial Field to take part in the day's festivities. From the old-fashioned family fun events to the spectacular grand fireworks display, the 4th of July is always a memorable event. The fun includes a bicycle parade, music, rides and amusements. The event concludes with fireworks at 9:15pm.
Evesham Independence Day Celebration. Photo courtesy of Nancy Louie Photography.
Evesham Independence Day Celebration, Evesham NJ
Evesham Township starts its 4th of July celebration early with a fun run and 5K race. Events during the day include a parade, a bike parade and a community celebration. The July 4th parade starts at 11:00 AM along Main Street from Maple Avenue to Bettlewood Road. It features live music, community groups and military grand marshals and refreshments. The community celebration begins at 7:00 at Cherokee High School and features paratroopers and food and drinks from local vendors. The fireworks cap off the day at 9:30.
Valenzano Winery Independence Day Fireworks Festival, Shamong NJ
Valenzano Winery will host its July 4th Fireworks Festival at their festival grounds on Old Indian Mills Road in Shamong. The event will feature live music featuring Bullzeye Band, entertainment for the kids, low altitude fireworks, a craft show, tons of food and Valenzano wines. Gates open at 5 pm. Tickets can be purchased online or at the winery. Special party tent rentals are available.
A patriotic bulldog at the Wildwood Pooch Parade. Photo courtesy of the parade.
Wildwood 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular, Wildwood NJ
The Wildwoods have a full schedule of events planned to celebrate the 4th of July. The day begins with a July 4th beach and boardwalk patriotic run/walk. Events also include an Independence Day Parade, Pooch Parade, craft show, and patriotic music show. The day concludes with a Fireworks Spectacular at 10pm.
Maplewood July 4th, Maplewood, NJ
This all-day event starts with opening ceremonies and a bike parade. Festivities continue with ice cream and other eating contests, face-painting, pet awards, a baking contest, kids dashes and other races, carnival amusements, a car show, live music, a food court and the Zerbini Family Circus.
Tuckerton Seaport Roots Festival and 4th of July Celebration,Tuckerton, NJ
The Borough of Tuckerton will present its annual Fourth of July Parade, followed by children's activities, baby parade and entertainment. A fireworks display will take place over the lake at dusk.
Blairstown Fourth of July Celebration, Blairstown
Every year, Blairstown plans an old fashioned town celebration for Independence Day. Activities, that will be fun for the whole family, include pony rides, brass band, face painting, frog jumping contest, local food and crafts and more. Join in at Footbridge Park! 908-310-3550
Colonial Musketeers march in the Florham Park Parade. Photo courtesy of the parade.
Florham Park Fourth of July Celebration, Florham Park
This town has had an Independence Day celebration for more than 50 years. This year is no exception with a fun-filled day for the whole family. It all begins with a flag raising ceremony at 9am, followed by the town parade at 9:30am. The family picnic begins at 10:30am and will be held on the Borough Hall lawn and will feature obstacle courses, games, a water slide, a petting zoo, pony rides and much more. Food and refreshments are offered throughout the day and it all ends with fireworks at 9pm.
Montville Township Fourth of July Celebration, Montville
Located at the Montville Township High School, this celebration spans three days. Festivities will include rides, Midway, food, games, fireworks, and much more. Feel free to bring blankets, lawn chairs and refreshments, but dogs and alcohol are not permitted. 973-227-5184
Randolph Freedom Festival, Randolph
This festival has it all…and it lasts three days! Come celebrate the Fourth of July in Randolph. The Freedom Festival will include rides, games, food, bands, crafts and much more. 973-989-7100
Ridgewood Fourth of July Celebration. Photo by EBoechat via Flickr.
Ridgewood Fourth of July Celebration, Ridgewood
The parade begins at 10am at North Monroe and Godwin. Gates at Veterans Field open at 6pm for the celebration and the evening will include entertainment such as skydivers, fireworks and more. The parade is free, but there will be a cost for evening activities and fireworks. 201-445-2684
A version of this article first published in 2014.
Top photo: Ridgewood flag raising. Photo by EBoechat via Flickr.