If you're like us, you're settling into a three-day weekend, which means you have an extra day to pack in some fun. And whether you intend to hit Fair St. Louis for some Blondie, catch the fireworks down at St. Charles' Riverfest or see some star-spangled burlesque, there are plenty of possibilities.
Here are our picks for nine ways to celebrate our nation's birthday this weekend, all for $11 or less. Bonus: At least eight of them involve exploding pyrotechnics. The Chinese may have invented fireworks, but to us, nothing says America risking life and limb just to witness the pretty colors.
1. Catch the best team in baseball -- and great fireworks, too This year the best fireworks downtown will be at Busch Stadium (Broadway and Poplar Street; 314-345-9600 or www.stlcardinals.com) when the St. Louis Cardinals face the revamped San Diego Padres in a four-game series during the Fourth of July weekend. While the Cardinals are fending off the Pirates and Cubs, San Diego is looking for a spark to help catch the Giants and Dodgers in the National League West. Bombs could be bursting in air — the Friars rank among league leaders in giving up the longball. The Redbirds celebrate Independence Day with giveaways at three of the games — from replica 1982 World Series rings to camo-print jerseys. First pitch is at 6:15 p.m. Thursday, 7:15 p.m. Friday, and 1:15 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (July 2 to 5), and tickets are $10.80 to $365.80. — Rob Levy
2. Cross the river for free family fun Godfrey, Illinois, offers a full evening of Fourth of July fun with vendors and concessions, inflatables for the kids, a bungee bounce and zip line, cow train and arts & crafts activities. Family Fun Fest with Fireworks will also feature a flag ceremony and a veterans-recognition ceremony. Fireworks start at 9:15 p.m. Sat., July 4, 5-9:30 p.m., free admission, call 618-466-1483 for more information. Robert E. Glazebrook Park, 1401 Stamper Lane off Route 67, Godfrey.— Paul Friswold
3. Get your fireworks with a side of Toad the Wet Sprocket O'Fallon's Heritage and Freedom Fest offers more bang for your buck this Independence Day with three nights of family fun, from 5 to 10 p.m. Thursday, 5 to 11 p.m. Friday and noon to 10 p.m. Saturday (July 2 through 4) at the Ozzie Smith Sports Complex (900 TR Hughes Boulevard, O'Fallon; www.heritageandfreedomfest.com). Little patriots can romp in the Kids' Zone, which is packed with inflatables, craft areas, Hula-Hoops and giant checkerboards (with checkers), while the older crowd has access to the carnival rides and the midway games. There are also a ton of bands playing on two different theme nights: Country night (July 3) has Gloriana, Locash and the Well Hungarians, and Rock night (July 4) sees Smash Mouth, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Tonic and Superjam. And of course, there will be fireworks displays on Friday and Saturday. Admission is free, but you'll need money for concessions and to buy ride tickets. — Paul Friswold
4. Say "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" in Chesterfield Chesterfield's Fourth of July fireworks celebration kicks off with a free concert at 7 p.m. by Dogs of Society, an Elton John tribute band. Food and beverages will available, and there's a kids' zone with BMX stunt riders and a bubble bus. Fireworks start at 9:30 p.m. Sat., July 4, 7 p.m. Free admission, www.chesterfield.mo.us. Chesterfield Mall, Clarkson Road & Chesterfield Parkway S., Chesterfield, 636-532-0777, www.chesterfield-mall.com — Paul Friswold
5. Celebrate America with a rock-n-roll clown Clownvis Presley, everybody's favorite rock & roll clown, is back in St. Louis and back in action for the Fourth of July and his very own Clownvis Candy Cola Explosion. In honor of our nation's birthday, Clownvis ends the show by jumping into a seven-foot-tall can of cola while handcuffed and wearing a suit covered in Mentos. The Miss Molly Simms band provides the soundtrack, and Lola Van Ella and Foxy La Feelion will also be present. Sat., July 4, 8 p.m., $10. The Bootleg, 4140 Manchester Avenue.— Paul Friswold
Turn the page for more 4th of July fun, including details about Fair St. Louis
6. Stick with a classic ... in its new(ish) location Since 1981 St. Louisans have celebrated freedom at Fair Saint Louis (formerly the VP Fair), a three-day festival loaded with a star-spangled array of entertainment, vendors and family fun. Planned events this year in Forest Park include a salute to our troops, a model boat regatta in the Grand Basin and a huge zip line ($10 a ride), as well as musical performances by Morris Day and the Time, Blondie, Melissa Etheridge and Kool & the Gang. Fireworks close out each evening at 10 p.m. New this year is the S.T.E.A.M. exhibit (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math), which offers science-related experiences such as make-your-own 3-D glasses and stomp rocket launches. Fair Saint Louis is open 5 to 10:30 p.m. Thursday, and noon to 10:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (July 2 through 4). Call 314-434-3434 or visit www.fairsaintlouis.org for more information. Admission is free.— Rob Levy
7. Go for Fast Eddie's; stay for the fireworks If you miss seeing fireworks along the river, Alton, Illinois, has you covered with its Mississippi River Fireworks Festival. The United States Air Force Band of Mid-America performs at 6 p.m., and the fireworks start at 9:15 p.m. Fri., July 3. Free admission; call 618-465-6676 for more information. Alton Riverfront Park, Landmarks Boulevard between Piasa & Henry streets, Alton. — Paul Friswold
8. Party at Ballpark Village Kick off Independence Day weekend with a nonstop live show and drinks at Howl at the Moon. Best of all? From Ballpark Village, you can see those Cardinals' fireworks without a ticket to the baseball game. Fri., July 3, 5 p.m.; Sat., July 4, 5 p.m., $5-$10. Howl at the Moon, 601 Clark Ave in Ballpark Village, 314-736-4695, www.howlatthemoon.com.— Paul Friswold
9. Try some carnival rides in St. Charles St. Charles' Riverfest takes place in Frontier Park (First Capitol and South Riverside drives, St. Charles; www.historicstcharles.com) on the banks of the Missouri River, and it features three days of carnival rides, food and beverage booths, a beer garden, and a special children's area with plenty of family-friendly things to do and see. There are also two fireworks displays, so rest assured, all your needs will be met. Riverfest is open from 5 to 10:30 p.m. Thursday and noon to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday (July 2 through 4). The fireworks go off at 9:20 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. There are no fireworks on Thursday, but the Bottle Rockets play from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m., so you'll still get a thrill. Admission to Riverfest is free.— Mark Fischer