When Houston celebrates the Fourth of July, it goes big. | Photo courtesy of Flickr user telwink

The Fourth of July: fun and festive for some, chaotic and crowded for others, with traffic and parking woes for all. It would be ideal to set out a blanket in a park, gather around over a picnic basket with the family and enjoy an evening under the night sky watching magnificent fireworks, but let's face it...this isn't a country song—this is real life in the big city, which means celebrating the independence of our country is no small shindig. And as I've been through my fair share of holiday weekend hits and misses in Houston, I've got a few suggestions this week for ways to celebrate "out of the box" this year—all of them hits.

The Pedal-Party
2000 Edwards St.
832-429-6977
pedal-party.com

One of the hardest parts of your Fourth of July journey is actually reaching the final destination: the fireworks show. Why not just keep the journey going? Houston's newest fad is the Pedal-Party, a quirky way to celebrate just about anything with 15 of your closest friends. Living in Midtown, I get a glimpse of these pedal-party trolleys on the regular, but if you have yet to experience one, they are quite the sight to see. Trundling down the street at about 5-8 miles per hour, pedal-party guests, well, pedal around a mobile bar that's centered around one main guest/bartender. Choose your music, pedal away and you're off to experience a pub crawl like no other.

Pedal-parties feature two routes down Washington Avenue and one in Midtown, stopping at various bars along the way. The charm of planning a party like this around the Fourth of July holiday weekend is that you won't post up at one single place for too long. You can hop around from bar to bar and many of the area hot spots feature rooftop patios with fireworks viewing parties. Food problem? No problem. All of the routes will no doubt have you passing restaurants which are open late night and food trucks lining the streets for pedestrians and such pedal-parties. As the 16 person pedal-party vehicle is completely pedal-powered you will surely work up an appetite, especially in the Houston heat.

Republic Smokehouse Saloon
1910 Bagby St.
832-925-8871
republicsaloon.com

When you near the end of the night when its time to rest your legs and park your pedal-party, the Republic Smokehouse Saloon in Midtown is hosting a July 4th block party starting at 3 p.m., with the rooftop opening at 5. With your pedal-party running its route in the same vicinity you will have no problem once you reach the Midtown bubble. The brand new patio bar is promising guests a day packed with live music, patio DJ, delicious barbecue, pie eating contest and water balloon fight. Tis the land of the brave indeed. Tickets are for sale to the public on eventbrite.com, and the Saloon is offering a transportation alternative for those who aren't pedaling to their party: just download Uber (if you don't have the app already) and enter promo code 4thREPUBLIC for a free first ride up to $20.

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