Cities all across the USA will be celebrating the birth of America this weekend, but there’s a good chance that Washington DC’s will be the best. Here are 20 reasons why you need to make it to DC for the Fourth of July. Also, many of these are FREE.
Fourth of July Must-Sees
- National Independence Day Parade. FREE. One of the largest Fourth of July parades in the nation, this one begins at 11:45am and traverses Constitution Ave. The mile-long parade features bands, military units, massive balloons, drill teams, dignitaries and more all coming together to celebrate our nation’s history.
- A Capitol Fourth. FREE. This concert begins just before sundown (8pm) on the West Lawn of the US Capitol. Arrive early (anytime after 3pm), post up on the lawn with a picnic dinner, and watch the show (John Stamos hosting musical acts including the Beach Boys, the Blues Brothers, the National Symphony Orchestra firsthand, and many more). Plus, you’ll have an amazing view for the firework just afterwards.
- Fourth of July fireworks at the National Mall. FREE. Speaking of fireworks, you’re not going to want to miss this show. This year, the show begins at 9:09pm and will be launched from the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. The National Mall provides the best view but if crowds aren’t your thing, we’ve outlined our other fave viewing spots below!
- Washington Nationals Baseball game. $23+. What’s more American than celebrating its favorite pastime? The annual event at the Nationals’ stadium starts at 11:05am and will be against rival team the New York Mets.
- Smithsonian Folklife Festival. FREE. Hosted at the National Mall, this festival celebrates the Circus Arts & American folk this year with concerts, a marketplace, plenty of food, acrobatics, and more. Learn about the rich history of the circus while also experiencing it firsthand.
- Get a bit of history at the National Archives. FREE. We have all read about our nation’s founding but see it come to life with reenactments, readings of the Declaration of Independence, and hands-on activities.
- National Portrait Gallery’s “America’s Presidents” Exhibit. FREE. Temporarily installed in the west gallery, the exhibit includes Luke DuBois’s “Hindsight is Always 20/20”; the installation features word clouds of 41 of the US presidents as a way to visually show how their rhetoric influenced our past.
- National Museum of American History. FREE. Want an even more in-depth look into our history? Stop by the Museum of American History to see everything from the original Star-Spangled Banner to Abraham Lincoln’s top hat.
- Want a drink while you’re at the museum? The Museum is hosting a “We the People” after hours celebration on July 1 from 7-11pm featuring Purity Ring, DJ Jonathan Toubin, and more. $55.
- Smithsonian American Art Museum. FREE. In addition to its regular exhibits, the American Art Museum is celebrating President John F Kennedy’s centennial. Bringing together 77 images from all over, the collection gives a vivid picture of JFK’s life and death.
Where to view the fireworks
For when you want to avoid the National Mall’s crowds
- The W Hotel featuring POV Lounge. Each Fourth, POV Lounge hosts “Boom with a View.” While tables are sold out, you can still try to arrive early to catch a spot on the balcony for the show.
- Watergate Hotel with Top of the Gate. 360° Fireworks show on the rooftop with music, food and beverages.
- The Embassy Row Hotel. Starting at 6pm on the Fourth, their “America” party will feature cocktails, limited edition camo Budweiser bottles (to honor our troops), and a Silent Disco. FREE for hotel guests & $30 for everyone else.
- Mason & Rook. Have the Fourth of July special: red, white & blue sangria (i.e. white wine, cherries, & blueberries). Open 5pm until last call.
- The Liason. Rooftop pool party & cookout from 8am-11pm. A $40 ticket gets you access to the pool and to cheap eats (FREE for hotel guests).
Where to eat & drink
Because BBQ is almost as patriotic as the National Anthem
- Bottomless BBQ at Teddy & the Bully Bar and Lincoln. Both patriotic restaurants will host all-you-can-eat buffets of American classics (like BBQ ribs, Mac & Cheese, and peach cobbler).
- BeerBQ Battle at City Tap House. Four local breweries (City Tap, 3 Stars, Evolution, and Hardywood will battle it out for title to “Best Brew” from 12pm-5pm. $20 tickets get you a sampling from all four, sides like potato salad, and more. Plus, you can get in on the action with the cornhole competition.
- Republic’s Fourth Annual Freedom Fest. Celebrating the end of government restrictions on beer sales, this promises to be one lively & patriotic bash. Featuring 24 unique beers as well as an array of American BBQ and food. $20-60.
- Jack Rose Dining Saloon’s “AmeriCAN DrinkDependence Day.” Starting at 3pm, head to the rooftop terrace for awesome cocktails and half-priced bites like smoked whiskey wings.
- The Brixton’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. FREE to come by (and enter), the contest features prizes for winners and discounted beer all day.
Convinced? Book a hotel for the weekend here!