THAT FOURTH OF JULY FEEL: Some towns always boast a hint of a particular time of year, regardless of what the actual date might say. Solvang always feels as though the autumn solstice is just days away, thanks to its cozy spread of pastries and old-timey buildings, the kind of sweet structures one sees on the September photo on a wall calendar. The desert always holds a visual trace of summer, even in January when nighttime temperatures dip. And Newport Dunes? The expansive vacation destination always seems as though it might break out the Fourth of July sparklers, no matter if it is March or October or any other time of the year beyond the early part of the seventh month. But when the early part of the seventh month arrives, trust the waterfront marina to go all-out on the theme front. And the 2015 theme is "A Star-Spangled Groovy Fest," which means live bands playing a whole funky caboodle of tunes from the 1960s and '70s. Should you don your tie-dye and fringe? Well, July 4 may be on the toastier side, even near the water, but a little bit of vintage Fourth of July fashion would be in the spirit of the day.
AND IT IS A BIG DAY: The 57th Newport Dunes Fourth of July revs up in the early part of the afternoon, music-wise, and at Moe B's Aquatic Park, where those famous giant inflatables reign, and, yes, a water trampoline. A big floating spaceship? Or iceberg? You can climb it, in your swimsuit, if you feel up to the challenge. Paddleboats and kayaks are also out on the water, a classic sight at the Dunes. And food shall also be a major part of the merrymaking, with the Back Bay Bistro Buffet offering two seatings beginning in the late afternoon. (Hello ceviche, California rolls, and, of course, apple pie.) The over-the-agua fireworks show arrives after the sun goes way down and the sparkling sky show has its perfectly dark background. Need info on parking fees, watersport rentals, and such? Find 'em here. Can't make the Fourth festivities but want to do the Dunes soon? As mentioned, this Newport nook always has a bit of the holiday about, regardless of the time of year. Those water inflatables and paddleboats and watery views do help.