4th of July Traditions That Will Make the Beach Even Better


How does your family celebrate the 4th of July? If you're like many Americans, there are probably certain things that you all look forward to doing on this national holiday. Maybe there's a parade that you never miss participating in, or a movie that you and your family watch every. single. year. Maybe you're known for the best apple pie in the neighborhood or perhaps your family hosts the ultimate game of open invite flag football.

Whatever your traditions may be, chances are that they all revolve around themes like food or festivities. With that in mind, we've put together a list of ideas to make your 4th of July at the beach even better!

Eat A Hot Dog

According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council (a.k.a. the NHDSC and yes, it’s a real thing), July is National Hot Dog Month. Not only that, but the southern United States eats more hot dogs annually than any other region of the country AND people throughout the country eat approximately 150 million hot dogs on Independence Day alone.

What these facts all boil down to is that eating a hot dog while you’re vacationing in Sunset Beach, NC during the July 4th holiday is absolutely an American tradition.

But has it been a while since you’ve dug into a dog? Are you worried that you’ll inadvertently commit a sausage snafu? Not a problem! The NHDSC has made a video just for you, to answer any questions that you may have about the proper way to “dress your dog” or the cutlery expectations for your hot dog dinner party.

Or maybe you’re a hot dog hound who regularly eats these meats. If so, you may want to celebrate the Fourth by dressing your dog in high holiday fashion. Setting up a hot dog bar is an easy way to indulge your own appetite as well as cater to any sized group of people with potentially diverse tastes. Make sure to include staples such as ketchup, mustard, relish, and sauerkraut as well as unexpected toppings like pineapple, baked beans, and feta cheese. Check out this great post from The Modern Proper for additional ideas.

Win A Competition

Nothing is more American than a good old fashion competition. From sack races to pie-eating contests, cornhole to horseshoes, beating your buddy (or your brother!) fair and square is both personally rewarding and totally achievable during this holiday break.

There are lots of games that you can play on vacation that require little to no equipment and can be scaled to include kids as well as adults. Games such as four square and hop scotch can easily be played right on the beach, with game grids drawn directly onto the sand. Other games, such as egg races or watermelon seed spitting can be played right outside your Sunset Beach vacation rental using items you likely already have on hand and with no additional preparation.

Rep The Colors

Given that the Fourth of July is the day on which we as Americans commemorate and celebrate our independence from the tyranny of the British monarchy, it only stands to reason that any festivities should include assorted representations of our national colors.

Design a festive table by combining red, white, and blue foods in interesting and complementary ways. While you CAN put together a spot-on depiction of the flag using only strawberries, marshmallows, and blueberries, it’s not a requirement. Anything that you choose to do to evoke the flag’s color scheme on this day of patriotic days will serve to establish a festive atmosphere and keep you and your family and friends in the correct frame of mind.

Create an endless number of edible combinations using our quick list of food ideas, sorted by color:

  • Red (symbolizing hardiness and valor): strawberries, raspberries, cherries, tomatoes, watermelon, peppers, beets, candies, salsa, ketchup, steak, hot dogs, potatoes, pomegranate, onion, raw tuna, or steamed shrimp.
  • White (symbolizing purity and innocence): marshmallows, boiled eggs, yogurt covered pretzels or raisins, cheese, mayonnaise, ranch or french onion dips, raw sugar, rice, popcorn, or whipped cream.
  • Blue (symbolizing vigilance, perseverance and justice): blueberries, blue corn, blue corn tortillas, candies, jello, blue cheese, or anything else to which you can add blue food coloring (like yogurt or pudding!).

Light It Up

The State of North Carolina is fairly strict with regards to its laws governing the sale and use of fireworks. Basically, if they in any way denotate, explode, spin, or launch/propel themselves through the air, they are illegal. Sunset Beach takes those laws a step further and DOES NOT ALLOW ANY FIREWORK ITEM AT ALL.

It's important to know that this ban includes smaller items such as handheld sparklers (just like the ones shown in the photo above!), trick noisemakers, party poppers, glow worms, and smoke devices. Getting caught with any of these items may result in a hefty fine.

That said, if your July 4th tradition requires lighting up the night, we have a perfectly acceptable work around. Dollar and discount stores stock large arrays of glow items that spin, make noises, and/or are wearable in various ways. These things have the added bonus of lasting for several hours and won’t result in accidental singed hair or burnt fingertips.

Regardless of whether or not you choose to dress yourself in your glow stick finest, it’s absolutely a tradition to find the nearest community fireworks display and watch the show with hundreds if not thousands of other people. Although Sunset Beach does not provide a fireworks display, Calabash (just 10 minutes down the road) gives a very nice display down by the river and is especially good for families and little ones. There will be parking and signs and people directing traffic. They usually have a band, sell hot dogs and drinks, and people bring chairs and just hang out. Call 910-579-6747 for more details.

If you feel like driving a little further in order to catch a bigger show, Southport and Wilmington also both have fireworks displays. Just keep in mind that trips to either of these locations will take at least an hour to an hour and a half with traffic.

Public Display of Patriotism

Last but certainly not least is the traditional public signaling of your personal level of patriotism. This endeavor is best accomplished through attendance at and potential participation in a Fourth of July parade.

Lucky for you, Sunset Beach has just the thing you’re looking for. Starting at 9:00 a.m. at the Old Bridge (109 Shoreline Drive, West Sunset Beach), you can meet up with locals and visitors alike at the annual Fourth of July Parade. Don’t forget to wear your red, white, and blue while you watch – or join! – other revelers parading back and forth across the Old Bridge. After the parade, stay a while and enjoy games, snacks, and good old-fashioned camaraderie.

This event IS weather dependent. Visit the Old Bridge Preservation Society website or call 910-363-6585 for the latest information.

Not planning to go anywhere the morning of July 4th? Impress your friends and family with your knowledge of American Independence Day History by obtaining a perfect score on this PBS quiz! (Note: it's tougher than you may expect!)


We hope you've enjoyed our article about the ways in which you can include some of the best 4th of July traditions as part of your Sunset Beach vacation! Feel free to read our 2016 and 2017 posts about July 4th too for additional ideas on how to have a great holiday weekend here in Sunset Beach. And don't forget to check back next week for our post about Fun Activities To Do in the Sand!

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