1. FEAST ON WATERMELON
A local tradition since 1973, the Grand Bay Watermelon Festival offers something for the whole family. Enjoy arts, crafts and family entertainment and chow down on barbecue, hamburgers and ice cold watermelon throughout the day while the kids explore the large children's area featuring train rides, pony rides, face painting and more. Gates open at 8 a.m., and admission is $5 per car.
Grand Bay Watermelon Festival • Odd Fellow Park, Grand Bay.
2. BRUSH UP ON HISTORY
In this Salute to American Independence, historical interpreters dressed in U.S. Army uniforms from different eras of the fort’s occupation will conduct special guided tours and firing demonstrations from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. A Civil War cannon will also be fired in honor of our nation’s birthday. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children ages 6 – 12.
Fort Morgan • 51 Highway 180 W., Gulf Shores. 540-7127
3. EAT LOCAL
A feast of Silver Queen Corn, snap beans and homemade barbecue is the only proper way to celebrate the Fourth of July in my book. For the freshest ingredients, stock up on items from one of the Bay area's many fruit, produce and meat markets. And don't forget about dessert! A key lime pie from Burris Farm Market is a sweet way to finish off your down-home cookout.
Mosley's Meat Market • 4678 Airport Blvd. 344-5764. 699 U.S. Hwy. 98, Daphne. 626-1942
Allegri Farm Market • 9948 County Road 64, Daphne. 621-1955
Old Shell Market • 3251 Old Shell Rd. 476-6990
Burris Farm Market • 3100 S. Hickory St., Loxley. 964-6464
Windmill Market • 85 N Bancroft St., Fairhope. 990-8883
4. SHOW OFF YOUR BIKINI BOD
It wouldn't be a holiday at the Flora-Bama without live music, a bushwacker and a bikini contest, right? Dig your toes in the sand, feast on some barbecue and watch local ladies compete for the title of Miss Firecracker. It's guaranteed to be a good time. Contest starts at 3 p.m.
Flora-Bama Lounge & Package • 17401 Perdido Key Dr., Pensacola. 850-492-0611
5. CAMP OUT
Whether you pack up for a weekend getaway or simply pitch a tent in your own backyard (every kid's favorite!), spend your holiday weekend relaxing in the great outdoors. Put all distracting electronics away, and enjoy the simplicty of gazing at the stars and dining on some traditional grill-friendly fare. Click here for a few of our favorite camping and S'mores recipes.
Blakely HIstoric State Park • 34745 State Hwy 225, Spanish Fort. 626-0798
Gulf State Park • 22050 Campground Rd., Gulf Shores. 948-7275.
Meaher State Park • 5200 Battleship Parkway E St., Spanish Fort. 626-5529.
6. EXPLORE THE EXPLOREUM
OK, it may not be the most traditional way of celebrating America's independence, but a long weekend is the perfect opportunity to go on a field trip and spend some quality time with the kiddos. “Penguin Planet, ” a fun new exhibit featuring four live African black-footed penguins, opens at the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center on July 4. Learn about penguins from around the world, what they eat and how big they grow as the animals frolic and play in their new environment. You'll beat the heat by staying indoors during the midday sun, and the kids will have so much fun, they will totally forget it's educational!
Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center • 65 Government St. 208-6873.
7. WATCH THE FIREWORKS
Finish the day with a bang as fireworks light up the sky across the Bay area at 9 p.m. In addition to fireworks, enjoy a free performance by the Mobile Pops at 7 p.m. at USS Alabama Battleship Park and the Baldwin Pops at 7:30 p.m. at Henry George Park.
Mobile Pops and Fireworks • USS Alabama Battleship Park
Fairhope's Festival and Fireworks • Henry George Park, Fairhope
Jubilee Celebration • Trione Sports Complex, Daphne
Dauphin Island Fireworks Show • Dauphin Island Public Beach