When we Americans talk about the ties that bind us, the Fourth of July always comes up in the conversation. It's a holiday that not only celebrates freedom for Americans, but also the idea that all people are entitled to be free. On this day, America celebrates its dynamism. It's creativity. Its diversity. And its Declaration of Independence -- the original reason for this holiday. And on July 4, America celebrates this holiday with great food, great friends and family, and often, in great hotels. Here are three of my favorites in which to celebrate the Fourth!
#3 - EDGEWATER RESORT, EPHRAIM, WISCONSIN - Sticking out from northern Wisconsin into Lake Michigan, the peninsula called Door County is a definite sweet spot. It's a throwback to gentler times, where people who don't even know you say hello on the street, where the businesses are locally-owned (and the prices reasonable), and where there are still candy stores and sweet shops, and restaurants whose specialties were swimming in the local waters just a few hours before. The town of Ephraim sits on scenic Eagle Harbor, and the waterfront suites in the Edgewater Resort face the harbor, as does the swimming pool. The accommodations are suites with kitchenettes, and newly renovated (2021) luxurious cottages with full kitchens. The guest rooms here are woodsy and Midwestern, with funky touches such as lighthouse table lamps. There's a 24/7 fitness center for you to work off any vacation calories. And Edgewater offers guests a nice list of seasonal offerings of treats, flowers and baked goods. And by the way, Fido is welcome here, too...and there are treats available for him/her, too. Adjacent to the property is the Old Post Office, one of the area's most notable restaurants, which does outdoor fish boils - a wonderful Door County staple - in season, and serves great breakfasts, as well.
Historic buildings, good restaurants, and art galleries surround the Edgewater Resort. It's less than a block away from a public boat launch where you can rent a boat to go fishing. And it's only about five minutes away from the Skyway Drive-In Theater, one of the last - and perhaps the coolest - drive-in theaters in Wisconsin.
#2 - THE LIBERTY TRUST HOTEL, ROANOKE, VIRGINIA - What better way to spend July 4 than in an iconic American building? The Liberty Trust Hotel is the only member of the prestigious Preferred Hotels & Resorts, Connect Collection in Virginia's Blue Ridge. This 54-room hotel originally opened in 1910 as the First National Bank building...and every inch of it celebrates early-Twentieth Century American design (along with some Greek and French elements!). This hotel is stately, romantic, and definitely stylish, with a lobby of ornate columns and high ceilings, and copper doors throughout. And you don't need to be accompanied when you enter the original walk-in vault; it's now a tasting room for libations. Small wonder the hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A local institution known as Black Dog Salvage (of the popular 11-season DIY Network TV show) assisted in preserving some of the building's original architectural details, including the bank's safe. Sitting in the heart of one of the South's coolest cities, the Liberty Trust Hotel is surrounded by eclectic restaurants and bars, a marketplace/food hall, and artists selling their work in the square. And only a block away is Center In the Square, a distinctive old building now housing no less than seven cultural and entertainment attractions, among them a pinball museum filled with games you'll remember from your youth. Just outside of downtown, Roanoke's Mill Mountain Zoo will be celebrating its 70th anniversary on July 4. And the 90'-high Mill Mountain Star atop the mountain will be lit up for the occasion, and at 1,045 feet above the city, it will be visible for miles. Just outside of town is one of the most beautiful roads in America. The Blue Ridge Parkway will take your breath away as you pass colorful vineyards and patchwork-quilt landscapes and distant villages in green valleys.
And now, my No. 1 spot at which to celebrate this July 4!
#1 - THE WINCHESTER LODGE, FREDERICKSBURG, TEXAS - Fredericksburg is a sweet spot in the Texas Hill Country, a town settled by mid-1800's German emigrants who, happily, brought some of their colorful customs and delicious culinary specialties with them. And it's a sweet spot even more than usual this time of year...because it's peach season. So it's a great time to visit. Located only a block off Fredericksburg's Main Street shopping district, each of its 16 suites boasts a different Hill Country décor. And each also overlooks Town Creek, flowing through the one-and-a-half acre wooded grounds. The Winchester Lodge's in-house chef starts your days off with gourmet breakfasts delivered to your door. Afterward, you can cool off at the creek-side pool. You can let the waterfall soothe your senses. Or you can retire to your private Jacuzzi tub. If you're looking for a great lunch or dinner, the owners of The Winchester Lodge also own the eclectic "New American" restaurant next door, called Sage. And definitely plan to stroll the streets of Fredericksburg...Main Street has more than 200 eateries, live-music spots, galleries, boutiques, wine-tasting rooms, and brew-pubs. And by all means try the authentic German specialties such as strudel and schnitzel, handed down from generation to generation. Take a drive through the Texas Hill Country roads surrounding Fredericksburg, where you'll find historic little villages, lush green meadows with grazing horses, and wonderful wineries. And this town knows how to do July 4! Festivities kick off with a concert and celebration at nearby Luckenbach on Saturday, July 2. Then Fredericksburg comes alive on the Fourth, with a big parade and a kiddie parade in the town's outdoor gathering place, a large park with interesting historical monuments called the Marktplatz. The evening ends with Fourth of July fireworks at Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park at 9:30. But your memories will last forever.