It’s time again for BBQs, parades, and fireworks—yes, we’re talking about the arrival of the 4th of July! If your clan prefers to keep things quiet (some tiny ears just can’t bear big booms), you can still have a grand ol’ time celebrating Independence Day. Read on to find out when and where you can enjoy a fireworks-free holiday.

photo: Josta Photo via flickr

Special Celebrations 2nd Annual Independence Day Festival
Get a head-start on the holiday this year without the headache at the Special Celebrations 2nd Annual Independence Day Festival. On July 1, from 1- 3 p.m., enjoy the afternoon in Vancouver at a sensory-friendly, firework-free event. There will be a potluck picnic, games, crafts and even a super hero squad to entertain your little ones.

The Arc of Southwest Washington
511 NE 18th St., Vancouver, Wa.
Jul 1, 1-3 p.m.

Oaks Park Amusement Park
Keep your kiddos excited without fireworks on the 4th with rides and games at Oaks Amusement Park. They can slide to their hearts’ content on Big Pink, take a cool trip on Chipper’s Choppers mini motorcycles or try their hand at being a pilot on Sky Fighters (not to mention everyone’s favorite—the classic antique carousel). There is a fireworks display once the sun goes down, but with any luck, your kids will be ready to go down, too, after a fun-packed day at the park.

Oaks Park Amusement Park
7805 SE Oaks Park Way
Jul 4
$3.75 – $15.75


photo: Liz Randall via flickr

Portland City Tour Cruise
Get on a boat for the 4th! Portland Spirit has family-friendly Explorer Jet Boat cruises that will take you and yours up and down the Willamette River. They have more than one sailing on the 4th, so you and your family can celebrate with a new view of Portland’s 10 iconic bridges.

Portland Spirit – Salmon Street Springs Dock
110 SE Caruthers St.
Jul 4


Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival
Head down to Tom McCall Waterfront Park for the Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival. On July 4th, they will have Portland’s largest fireworks show, but luckily that doesn’t start until 10 p.m. Keep the kids distracted with four stages and tons of live bands next to the Willamette River. Keep the kids busy dancing all day, so they can sleep all night.

Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival
Tom McCall Waterfront Park, NW Glisan St.
Jul 4
Starting at $10


photo: mcbeaty101010 via flickr

Hit the Beach!

Or, maybe the beach is calling to you, instead? If so, there are a lot of great options, and we here are the two at the top of our beach-bucket-list:

Canon Beach
Enjoy the beach without the booms. Because they have a nearby bird refuge, there are no fireworks shows at Canon Beach. Instead, you can take part in the town’s other festivities:

  • Join or watch the parade. You can get there early to sign up and march through downtown, or make a game of seeing how much candy your kids can catch from the curb.
  • After the parade, head on over the the American Legion for a hot dog lunch.
  • Next up, the Great Puffin Watch offers a chance to get a glimpse of the wonderful wildlife around Cannon Beach. There will be interpreters to help everyone try to spot a Puffin, and learn about the animals that appear during low tide during a beach walk.

Cannon Beach 4th of July
Jul 4, starts at 11 a.m.


Seaside Parade & Old Fashioned Social
Enjoy some classic family-fun with a parade full of floats, marching bands and more. Then after the parade winds down, head to the Seaside Museum for the Social. There will be food, games, a cake walk, face-painting, and more for everyone in the family to enjoy. Seaside does have a fireworks display at the beach, but you can skip the show and stay in with a movie (see our at-home movie recommendations in our House Party & At-Home Movie Night suggestion below).

Seaside Parade & Old Fashioned Social
570 Necanicum, Seaside
Jul 4, 11 a.m.
Online: &


photo: Baker County Tourism via flickr

House Party & At-Home Movie Night

Throw a birthday party for America at home with your kids. Check out our ideas for patriotic treats to make for (ore with) your kids. Sing Happy Birthday to dear ol’ America. And then pick a fun flick to focus on instead of fireworks (some of our picks below).

  • The Lego Batman Movie is at the top of our list because it’s the newest and has great layered humor, so you and the kids will have some genuine laughs.
  • An American Tail is a classic American story you can introduce to your modern young ones.
  • The Sandlot, great movie showcasing kids playing America’s favorite pastime, baseball!
  • The Incredibles will remind your kids that working together (with family, no less!) is a great way to overcome obstacles, like saving the country and the planet.


photo: Al Case via flickr

Movie Night Out 

If none of these are tickling your July 4th fancy, no one will fault you for taking the kids to see a movie. What better way to beat the heat and avoid the noise of fireworks? This year, many theaters around town will be showing the highly-anticipated-by-kids-everywhere movie Despicable Me 3 (some theaters have the 3D versions, as well). Pick a showtime close to dusk, and it should drown out the explosions in the sky around town.

How do you celebrate a fireworks-free 4th of July with your kids? Share with us in the comments below!

—Bess Dwyer