This year, Fourth of July revelers will have to swap many traditions — peppy parades, large family reunions and patriotic concerts — with low-key celebrations. But there are plenty of safe ways to commemorate America’s birthday. Here are some suggestions.

Watch fireworks, in person or onscreen.

Many cities have canceled their festivities, and with that, the main draw: fireworks. But some are moving forward. Your best, and safest, bet is to watch either in your backyard or on a TV or computer screen.

In New York City, Macy’s fireworks show, a spectacle that usually beckons residents to rooftops and parks on July 4, will take place on several unspecified nights from Monday through the holiday, with each display lasting only five minutes. They will be set off from unannounced locations across the five boroughs — a strategy meant to prevent New Yorkers from congregating in public spaces. A special presentation featuring a recap of the fireworks will be televised nationally on July 4 at 8 p.m. Eastern on NBC.

Fireworks will light up Washington during “A Capital Fourth.” The event traditionally takes place on the West Lawn of the Capitol, but this year viewers are encouraged to watch from home. The presentation features recorded performances by stars such as Patti LaBelle and Renée Fleming; the actors John Stamos and Vanessa Williams will host. Tune in to PBS,, Facebook or YouTube at 8 p.m. Eastern.

Elsewhere, Houston’s “Shell Freedom Over Texas” celebration has traded its annual festival on the Buffalo Bayou for a virtual show featuring fireworks and musical acts, like the Houston Symphony and the country singer Pat Green. Tune in at 8 p.m. Eastern on Nashville’s “Let Freedom Sing!” event will honor workers who have been on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis. There won’t be a public concert, and Riverfront Park, along the Cumberland, will be closed to spectators as a precaution. But you can catch the fireworks show on at 10 p.m. Eastern.

Other cities haven’t guaranteed fireworks, but they will salute the country in different ways: Starting Sunday, Philadelphia’s weeklong virtual “Welcome America” festival features cultural programming, fun lessons for children, and family-friendly workout sessions. It culminates in a concert by the performers Cynthia Erivo and Jason Derulo.

On the Fourth, Los Angeles is still having an annual block party — this time, the block is onscreen — hosted by Grand Park and the Music Center, a performing arts venue. There will be musical performances, a poetry reading, comedy sketches and more. The first hour can be streamed on beginning at 10 p.m. Eastern; the rest of the event continues on Grand Park’s website and Facebook page, and

And the Boston Pops Orchestra will pay tribute to front-line workers in a celebration airing on Bloomberg Television, Bloomberg Radio and Boston’s WHDH-TV at 8 p.m. Eastern.

Depending on where you live, you may be able to get off your couch and watch firework shows at drive-ins, a new alternative that at least a few cities have announced in response to the crisis, among them North Port, Fla.; Auburn, Ala.; and Loveland, Colo.

Plans are subject to change, so be sure to check for updates.

Take a virtual tour of national landmarks.

If you typically take this time to visit monuments or educate your children about American history, the internet has plenty of resources. The website Architect’s Virtual Capitol is an immersive look at the heart of federal government. Choose from several videos about the history of the National Capitol, a virtual walking tour of its campus or an interactive map of other key sites in Washington.

Or visit Philadelphia’s Independence National Historical Park, home to Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and the Benjamin Franklin Museum, through educational videos, photo galleries and more on the National Park Service’s website.

While there’s nothing quite like getting an up-close-and-personal look at the Statue of Liberty, an interactive virtual tour by the National Park Service comes close. It offers panoramic views of the statue’s exterior and interior, saving you the strenuous climb.

You can also take a virtual tour of St. John’s Church in Richmond, Va., through its website, or watch educational videos about the Second Virginia Convention, the weeklong meeting in 1775 where Patrick Henry delivered his famous “Give me liberty, or give me death” speech to more than 100 delegates who had gathered to discuss the future of the colonies.

The Founding Fathers certainly excluded many from their vision, so consider exploring key moments in the fight against slavery by clicking through “The Struggle for African American Freedom,” an online exhibition on Google’s Arts & Culture platform from the Henry Ford museum complex in Dearborn, Mich. And, while not a national landmark, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History in Manhattan also has a virtual exhibition on Google’s platform titled “African-Americans in the U.S. Military,” detailing African-Americans’ roles in American conflicts, starting with the Revolution.


Watch a movie about the country’s founding.

If you prefer a dose of drama with your history lesson, settle in for a movie night. And if you have a backyard and a projector, you can set up an outdoor theater and catch the fireworks as an intermission.

A live recording of “Hamilton,” the acclaimed Broadway musical from the writer and its star Lin-Manuel Miranda, and the director Thomas Kail, arrives on Disney Plus on Friday.

Or “1776,” a 1972 movie that is also based on a musical, follows the debates at the Second Continental Congress that led to the drafting and signing of the Declaration of Independence. (Mr. Miranda has said that “1776” paved the way for “Hamilton.”) Stream it free on Pluto TV, or rent or buy it on Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu or YouTube. It will also air on July 4 on TCM at 2:30 p.m. Eastern.

“Drums Along the Mohawk,” a 1939 adventure based on the novel of the same name, follows a young settler couple (played by Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert) on the frontier in central New York during the American Revolution. The movie was nominated for two Oscars. Rent or buy it on Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu or YouTube.

Revisit the Declaration of Independence.

For the past 50 years, the National Archives in Washington has hosted a reading ceremony of the Declaration on its museum’s steps. This year, the event is moving to its website and Facebook page. The reading starts at 4 p.m. Eastern and is hosted by the broadcast journalist Soledad O’Brien. Another tradition continues on NPR: Reporters, hosts, newscasters and commentators will perform their own reading of the Declaration, which will air on “Morning Edition” on Friday at 6:10 a.m. Eastern.

Celebrate in the kitchen.

If all this time at home has helped you find your inner chef, consider trying a New York Times Fourth of July recipe, like gochujang barbecue ribs with peanuts and scallions or lemon potato salad with mint.

Or invite your children to help you prepare some classic patriotic treats. Think of red, white and blue ingredients, like marshmallows, whipped cream, cherries, blueberries, strawberries, jam or colored candy. Of course, the simplest approach never fails: Bake your choice of dessert, hand over some red, white and blue frosting or sprinkles, and let your little ones go crazy.


Credit…Calla Kessler/The New York Times

Get together (safely).

If you plan on seeing friends or family, keep the fun outside, as experts have said indoor gatherings pose a huge risk. You could host a barbecue in your backyard. Space chairs six feet apart, if you have room, and make it a potluck, so you won’t have to share meals. If you want to serve food, make sure it’s hot off the grill. (Here are more tips on how to host during the coronavirus crisis.)

Or if space is tight, spend the day on your porch or stoop and organize a block party with your neighbors. If you have a car, make it a tailgate party. All it takes is a few chairs, a table and a grill.

Another option is to have a picnic in the park. All you need is a blanket, some food and good company. (And masks, of course.)

Play outdoor games.

While team sports can be dangerous, playing baseball with those in your household is on the safer side. Wear face coverings and gloves, stay six feet apart from strangers and be sure to wash your equipment afterward. For more guidance, Little League has released a list of best practices for teams considering returning to the field.

Or have a water balloon fight. Play with a small group of friends, wash your hands before making the balloons and don’t aim for anyone’s face. (Always a good rule, regardless of health concerns.)

You could also try cornhole. Wear gloves to avoid spreading germs through the beanbags and, if you’re playing in teams of two, wear a mask.

For a quieter time, test your knowledge of American history with some trivia. PBS has a quiz on its website. You can also create your own and challenge your friends and family.