We hold this truth to be self-evident: that the Pensacola Bay Area is the place to stay this Independence Day.

July Fourth is one of my favorite public holidays. Not only is it a chance to remember our rich history and those who gave their lives for our independence — it’s also a great party: the joyous sounds of families laughing; the delicious taste of that fifth hot dog of the day; the fireworks that ignite the night with their raucous blasts; the faint, yet oddly satisfying smell of sulfur following the grand show; the feeling of coming together as a community. Independence Day really is a sensational celebration.

Visitors to the Pensacola Bay Area have several options when considering how to get in the spirit this Independence Day. Seville Square, in Downtown Pensacola, will play host to a full day of activities, culminating in the Gulf Coast’s largest fireworks display over Pensacola Bay. Seville Square is a good option for families, with a variety of children’s activities from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. — including bounce houses, inflatable slides, pony rides, a rock climbing wall (and bungee jump), costumed characters, face painting, a Lowe’s kids’ clinic and more.

While the kids are busy playing, the rest of the family can check out the impressive variety of arts-and-crafts stalls, food vendors and live entertainment. The Crosstown Band and The Party Cartel will perform starting at 4:30, followed by the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra.

Of course, no July Fourth celebration would be complete without a hot dog eating contest. Sign up early for your chance to feast on some franks, as the competition starts at high noon. And remember — There can only be one “wiener.”

The festivities will culminate at 9 p.m. with an awe-inspiring fireworks display. Take my advice and set up shop along Bayfront Parkway, which offers front-row views of the kaleidoscopic display.

Just across the bay from Downtown Pensacola, the island community of Pensacola Beach will host their own fireworks display beginning at 8:30 p.m. Arrive early to reserve your spot on the sand.

A half-hour to the west, in the laidback coastal village of Perdido Key, the iconic Flora-Bama Lounge will host a more adult Independence Day celebration. The All American BBQ Festival, starting at 3 p.m., will feature live music, a bikini contest and that most patriotic of foods: barbecue.

By Freddie Haydn-Slater