When Is the Best Time
July is one of the most popular travel months in the United States. The air is warm, and the weather is pleasant in most regions, making it an excellent time to hit beaches, visit national parks and other countless outdoor attractions.
The downside is that July is a peak holiday period: Most areas get crowded, traffic on the roads increases, hotel rates climb, and it gets jam-packed in many areas.
With our travel tips for the right timing, you will be able to avoid the biggest drawbacks when traveling in July, at least by a certain amount.
The best time to travel in July is during the third or fourth week of the month. Rates are still high, but you avoid the pricey and hectic week around the 4th of July, and the busy second week.
U.S. Travel Statistics for July
According to surveys, July is the most popular month for a summer vacation. The statistics for U.S. travelers show that only a relatively small percentage is planning a non-domestic holiday:
- 39% say they are planning to travel within their home state in July
- 51% plan to travel outside their home state in July
- 9% plan to travel internationally in July
Best Time to Travel in July for Independence Day | July 4th
Each year almost 50 million people in the U.S. travel at least 50 miles to celebrate the 4th of July. It’s the time for festivities, fireworks, and other events.
Here is a 4th of July travel breakdown by mode of transport:
- Cars (41 million): The majority of travelers will travel during independence day week by car: 41 million
- Planes (4 million): The second largest group will use air travel during this week in July: About 4 million travelers
- Trains, Buses, Cruise Ships (3.5 million): The smallest group uses other modes of transport: 3.5 million
The first week of July is the busiest in terms of traffic on the roads. It is known as the worst week in July for travel delays overall. AAA specifies the Independence Day travel holiday period from July 3 to July 8, with July 3 being the worst day to hit the road.
In some cities, the traffic conditions will be brutal on July 3, during the afternoon hours. Delays can last up to 3.8 times as long as they usually would. The most congested times in the major cities are being broken down below:
Avoid Heavy Traffic
The best travel time to avoid congested roads and heavy traffic around the Fourth of July is either on July 2 or alternatively on July 4 in the early morning. Avoid July 3 if possible. If your itinerary only allows July 3 to start your travels, leave in the early morning or the late evening.
Find more details and a helpful graph from Google: Independence Day Traffic – Google Trends & Google Labs.
The best time to leave after the fireworks in July is after 11:00 PM. If you’re heading back later, try to avoid July 5, as it’s the busiest day on the roads. If you can hold out, drive back on July 6.
All above data applies to car travel only. If you’re flying, you should arrive early enough at the airport. Most travelers fly between July 3 and July 7. The peak date for air traffic is traditionally July 7.
Special City Tip
The best fireworks on independence day across the U.S. can be seen in the following cities: New York City | Nashville, TN | Washington D.C. | Boston M.A. | Chicago, IL
If you’re looking for a September guide, check out our tips for the best time to travel in September. We cover Labor Day, fall color viewing, and more.
Best Days to Travel in July for Fewer Crowds and Less Busy Roads
The best period to travel in July for dodging busy times is between the second and the fourth week of the month.
Week 1 | Extreme:
Avoid the first week if your itinerary allows it and you’re not planning a 4th of July vacation. It is by far the most hectic period in July due to Independence Day travelers. Roads are congested in many regions, and delays are almost inevitable.
Weeks 2-4 | High:
While not as busy as week 1, those weeks are also very hectic due to the peak summertime. The busiest travel day, according to the Travel Association, in July (and August) is Friday, followed by Saturday and Sunday. A Weekend is traditionally the time most in demand. Thus, the best time to start your holidays in July is from Monday to Tuesday. During these weekdays, the crowds aren’t as heavy as on weekends.
Best Car Roof Bag
We tried 7 car roof bags and found the best one from RoofPax (via Amazon.com – Affiliate Link) on a 5-day trip in Vermont and coastal Maine last summer. We had about 40 minutes of rain and everything in it was still dry. It’s definitely an affordable, sturdy, waterproof, and practical way to transport a lot of things for your road trip.
Best Time of Day to Travel in July
The worst time of day to start traveling in July is during the late afternoon, early evening timeframe. That’s when the summer holiday travelers are joining the afternoon commute traffic.
The best times to start traveling and hitting the road are either very early in the morning or late evening. Early morning is an excellent time before commuters get in the car to drive to work.
Best Time of Day to Visit Attractions in July
During July the all popular attractions get busy between 10 AM 11 AM. At some places, even earlier. The key is getting up early and be at most places before 8 AM, at least by 9 AM. That way, you beat the heaviest tourist crowds.
Alternative | Late Afternoon: Visiting popular travel places later in the day is another way to dodge the crowds. Tourist crowds often start to thin out between 5 PM and 6 PM when most are heading to dinner.
Best Time to Travel in July for Lower Hotel Rates
Across the United States, hotel rooms are generally more expensive in July than in August. However, it depends heavily on the region, the city, and the booking date. It would be best if you never waited too long to book your hotel for your trip in July. The earlier, the better. To save money, please use booking.com (price match – save the link) for your next hotel reservation.
In July, hotels during the first week of the month are more expensive due to Independence Day. Again, you will always find exceptions. Below is an example where hotels in Boston are NOT more expensive during the first week, while others are.
Book your hotels for July early enough. Tip: Also try to shift your times slightly if possible. It can make a difference in terms of rates if you book from July 15 to July 20 or from July 16 to July 21.
Best Time to Travel in July for Great Weather
July offers pleasant weather with warm temperatures throughout the months in most states. However, some regions are too hot and not really manageable anymore for some travelers. Some of the best places to beat the extreme heat in July are:
- San Francisco
- Rocky Mountains (Colorado)
- Coastal Maine (including Acadia N.P.)
However, if you plan to visit regions where it gets really hot in July we recommend areas with dry heat and low humidity. Las Vegas in July is one of those places.
Best Time to Travel in July for Events
Not only the 4th of July fireworks are plentiful in July. The popular summer month offers some of the best festivals in the U.S.: Music festivals, state fairs, balloon races, and more:
- Mid-July: Taste of Chicago Food Festival | Chicago, IL
- Mid-July: International Folk Art Market | Santa Fe, NM
- Mid-July: Oregon Lavender Farm Tour | Oregon
- July 20/21: Vermont Brewers Festival | Vermont
- Late July: Ohio State Fair | Columbus, OH
- Late July: The Great Texas Balloon Race | Longview, TX
5 Best Cities for Watching 4th of July Fireworks
Some cities offer fantastic options to do it right on Independence Day. From stunning fireworks displays to fantastic festivals. The following cities are some of the best travel destinations in the U.S. for watching those unique 4th of July fireworks.
Just make sure to avoid heavy traffic by following our tips above!
1. New York City
The fireworks display that takes place in New York City on July 4th is considered to be one of the most important events in New York throughout the entire year. Thus, travel to NYC at least once in your life for those fireworks!
Macy’s 4th of July fireworks in NYC is the largest Independence Day display which dazzles the shorelines of Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn with a breathtaking display of color, light, and sound.
Interesting facts about Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks:
- A team of 50 pyrotechnicians is in charge
- There are almost 2,000 launched shells per minute
- A total of more than 60,000 shells are launched
- There are 17 different firework patterns and 14 effects
The officially recommend viewing spot is: FDR Drive at East 23rd Street, East 34th Street, and East 42nd Street Fireworks Viewing
2. Chicago (Navy Pier)
Chicago hosts a spectacular fireworks display over Lake Michigan from the Pier, which also features the waterfront Pier Park, which includes a musical carousel, numerous restaurants, and the opportunity to taste warm, delicious fried dough.
View the colossal show from the 150-foot Ferris wheel! There will be street performers, plenty of shopping, free live music, and two sandy beaches nearby.
Where else would you want to celebrate Independence Day than in Philadelphia, the birthplace of the Declaration of Independence? For one of the largest free celebrations in the country on July 4th, come to celebrate in Philly.
Tip: Check out our Eastern State Penitentiary and visit this unique place in Philadelphia
A day-long celebration of entertainment, games, food trucks, and giveaways, culminating in the city’s signature fireworks display:
Wawa Welcome America Party on the Parkway and Fireworks Spectacular
- When: Mon Jul 4, 2022, various times
- Age: All ages
- Price: Free
- Location: Mann Center for the Performing Arts
The National Independence Day Parade in Washington, DC, is a massive, loud, and vibrant parade that draws millions of visitors each year. It’s the ultimate way to kick off the festivities.
For the fireworks, bring a blanket and some chairs to the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, where they’ll be launched, and enjoy the sights and sounds of this massive display.
5. Las Vegas
On Independence Day, everything in Vegas gets even bigger and better. Parties, hotel bars, and casinos will all open earlier than normal.
Tip: Check our complete travel guide for Las Vegas in July
On July 4th, the LINQ Promenade, Las Vegas’ open-air entertainment area, puts out various artists, magicians, games, and entertainers for a fun way to spend the day. Spend the night enjoying several fireworks that light up the sky, or try your luck at a casino.