Everyone's favorite national holiday is nearly here, and damn if it isn't time to start making extravagant plans to celebrate. Sure, the whole ringer tee, denim cut-offs, and Wet Hot American Summer routine normally works just fine and sure, if it's not broke don't fix it, but maybe this is the year to stray from your Independence Day norm.
So ditch the boring lager and get out of town (beverage-wise, at least) with a Cayman Jack margarita. The run-of-the-mill, so watered-down-it-might-as-well-be-water brew isn't going to cut it for your adventurous soul. You need the tang of organic limes on your tongue — lime shortage be damned — and the sweetness of blue agave in your heart. We all love hot dogs grilled under the heat of citronella tiki torches, wearing bibs and bad sunglasses while getting corn kernels stuck in our teeth, and watching baseball, but sometimes you have to leave New England, stop celebrating like your forefathers and go on an adventure — both culinary and otherwise. The time is now.
Weaverville, California checks all the appropriate Anytown, USA boxes — inns, shoppes, a spammy municipal website — while maintaining that eerily quaint main street experience that Northern California, and therefore so many Hitchcock movies, do so well. It's fabled to have been the inspiration for James Hilton's vision of Shangri-La in Lost Horizon (although it's said that this myth was born out of a comment made by Hilton comparing the town to his fantastical location. Chicken/egg, etc.); it's also the site of the longest continually-active Chinese temple in California.
If you're looking more for riches than sightseeing, on the other hand, there's still a pretty good amount of gold in the Golden State. If you're not hustling up a little cash on your day off, you're not really celebrating the full spectrum of American ideals now, are you?
Let's dance around the subject of a certain senator and just say that in Sedona, Arizona the vibes are strong. Specifically, the city is lousy with what many believe to be spiritual vortexes (they don't call them vortices, for some reason). These vortexes are like hot springs, it seems, but with no water. Instead of deep relaxation and freshly-sloughed baby skin, you get enlightenment, clarity, and understanding. Honestly, it doesn't sound terrible.
Sedona is also the place to go if you want to buy tons of crystals or have your aura read and photographed (which is starting to feel like the new age equivalent of carnival attractions like writing your name on rice or stamping pennies). Also, throw a rock and you'll hit an alien abductee. Don't, actually...just saying. God bless America.
Honestly, when was the last time you thought about the Florida Keys? Have you ever bothered to think about the Florida Keys? It's pretty much water, water everywhere (not a drop to drink, but that's where Cayman Jack comes in, of course) — but there are also some pretty, um, interesting sites to see. There's a submerged replica of Portofino's Christ of the Abyss, an underwater lodge that serves underwater pizza, the first undersea state park, and a boat for hire called the African Queen, famous for starring in the movie of the same name. There's also one hell of a floating biker bar that serves conch fritters and nightly live rockabilly, which is really all one comes to Key Largo for anyway.
To wit: actual plans. No matter where you go on this most patriotic of long weekends, you're going to have to eat and drink something (read: many things). Conch fritters sound ideal, but frankly so does just about any breaded and fried sea life. Forget the grill for a second — you have the whole summer for charcoal-flavored meats — and break the 4th of July mold by breaking out the deep fryer. Conch might be kind of hard to come by if you're anywhere landlocked, but fried clams are an easy enough compromise. Pair your crispy bivalves with an acidic beverage like — yup, you guessed it — a margarita. Since deep-frying is a bit of a project, you can forgo the blender and have your margs the easy way — bottled, fresh from the cooler.
And there you have it: July 4th as Cayman Jack does it. You'll never go back to New England again.
Zinzi Edmundson is a Los Angeles-based insufferable multi-hyphenate. She has written for Bon Appétit, Refinery29, Dwell, and others. In 2013, Edmundson was quoted as saying, "Writing about yourself in the third person is incredibly awkward and also sort of humiliating."
Illustrations by Ramóna Udvardi and Jake Inferrera for Studio@Gawker.