What better place to celebrate Independence Day than in our nation’s capital? This is where the actual Declaration of Independence is housed (and will be read!), and celebrations take place among some of the country’s most iconic landmarks. But the excitement doesn’t stop there. From fireworks on the National Mall and concerts at the Capitol to special events at George Washington’s house to neighborhood parades and ballpark fun, there are loads of ways to revel on July 4th (and 3rd!). Here are details on a bunch of them. Happy Independence Day!
National Independence Day Parade
Where: Constitution Avenue NW, 7th-17th Streets | DC
When: July 4, 11:45am
Many national holidays get a parade in DC, and July 4th is no exception. Scores of spectators are expected to line the Constitution Avenue sidewalks to watch the procession celebrating Independence Day make its way from 7th to 17th Streets. Marching bands, floats, giant balloons, equestrian groups, drill teams, and military units will be among the pageantry. Stake out your spot along the route early, as this event attracts hundreds of thousands of viewers every year.
Independence Day Celebration on the Mall
Where: National Mall, DC
When: July 4, all day (and evening)
After the parade (even earlier for some), the National Mall will begin filling up for a day of July 4th festivities — the Smithsonian Folklife Festival from 7th to 12th Streets, Junior Ranger activities, concerts, and more. And the grand finale of it all: At 9:09pm, the sky above will explode with color when the amazing iconic fireworks display. Fireworks will be launched from the Reflecting Pool area, so plan accordingly. *If you want to view the fireworks without having to head to the Mall, see these suggestions from WTOP for other vantage points to view the display.
A Capitol Fourth
Where: West Lawn on the Capitol | Capitol Hill, DC
When: July 4, 8pm; gates open at 3pm
Down past the other end of the Mall, A Capitol Fourth, the annual Independence Day concert that airs live on PBS, will feature even more musical pageantry. John Stamos will be back to host this year’s show, which will include performances by The Beach Boys, Pentatonix, Jimmy Buffet, Andy Grammer, The Temptations, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Choral Arts Society of Washington, the U.S. Army Ceremonial Band, and many more exciting acts. (KFDC tip: Enjoy the show with less crowds at the dress rehearsal on July 3 – same time and place!)
An American Celebration
Where: Mount Vernon | Mount Vernon, VA
When: July 4, 9am – 5pm
Admission: $18-20/adult, $11-12/age 6-11, free/5 & under
The home of George Washington salutes the first commander-in-chief with a dazzling display of made-for-daytime fireworks during its annual Independence Day event. Visitors will be treated to spectacular smoke fireworks in patriotic colors fired over the Potomac River. The event also includes an inspirational naturalization ceremony for 100 new citizens, military reenactments, a special wreathlaying ceremony, and a visit from the “first” first couple, “General and Mrs. Washington.” See the full schedule of events here.
4th of July Summer Party
Where: The District Wharf | Southwest DC
When: July 4, 12-4pm
The Wharf is ringing in 242 years of American independence with a kid-friendly party on Transit Pier. The celebration starts at 12pm with live music from local kids’ band Rocknoceros that will have little ones rolling with laughter. Listen and watch, or queue up for face painting, games, and a waterslide on the pier. For the adults in the crowd, the Waterfront Beer and Wine Garden opens at 1pm for drinks and snacks, and Thongband will play live, patriotic music at 2pm!
Fourth of July at the National Archives
Where: National Archives | National Mall, DC
When: June 30 – July 4
The celebration starts early at the National Archives with special activities everyday starting this Saturday — see the schedule for details. On the July 4th holiday, catch the annual dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence. There will also be historical guests, patriotic music, and family activities before and after that.
Where: Nationals Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: July 3, 6:05pm & July 4, 11:05am
Admission: Ticket prices vary
A day at the ballpark is about as all-American as it gets when it comes to sports, and you can experience it and celebrate the holiday at Nationals Park. Kick off Independence Day on July 3rd, when the Nats play the Red Sox and enjoy a postgame fireworks show. The July 4th game is all part of the Patriotic Series. Before you go, be sure to check this post for tips to save on a Nats game.
Where: Throughout the DMV
When: Most on July 4, times vary
Keep it close to home at a community celebration. You likely are aware of July 4th events taking place in your neighborhood or nearby, but if you’re still looking for a hyperlocal fête, check out this list of parades around town. (Note that the list is from 2016, but the information is largely the same, and all of the links lead to this year’s events.)
Fourth of July at Cedar Hill
Where: Frederick Douglass National Historic Site | Anacostia, DC
When: July 4, 9am – 9:30pm
Join the National Park Service to honor history and to celebrate 200 years of the life and legacy of Frederick Douglass and celebrate Independence Day with special activities. See living history actors recreate Douglass giving his famous speech “What to the slave is the Fourth of July?”, where he challenged America’s celebration of freedom while many people still remained enslaved. Earn a limited edition bicentennial Jr. Ranger badge, enjoy live musical performances, and tour Douglass’ home. Visitors can also experience the power of place by viewing the fireworks on the National Mall from Cedar Hill, just like Douglass would have.
July 4th Climb & Celebration
Where: Adventure Park at Sandy Spring | Sandy Spring, MD
When: July 4
Admission: $56/age 12+, $47/age 7-11, $12/age 5-6
Spend the holiday in the trees and enjoy a day of climbing, zip lining, and American spirit before you head out to see fireworks. They’ll have an All-American playlist to keep you in the patriotic mood. Don’t forget to wear your red, white and blue!
Falls Church 4th of July Celebration
Where: George Mason High School | Fairfax, VA
When: July 4, 7pm
The City of Falls Church Recreation and Parks Department will present its annual free July 4th Celebration at George Mason High School (7124 Leesburg Pike). Musical entertainment begins at 7pm with a live performance, and fireworks follow at 9:20pm. Blankets and flat-based chairs are allowed for seating on the field. Food and drinks will be sold on site.
Where: Oregon Ridge State Park | Cockeysville, MD
When: July 3
Admission: $22-25/adult, $11-15/child
For something a little different than the usual DC July 4th festivities, head north to Oregon Ridge Park in Cockeysville, MD, on Tuesday. You can spread out a blanket or set up chairs on the sloping green lawn amidst a gorgeous setting as the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performs their Star-Spangled Spectacular, culminating with a magnificent fireworks display. The starbursts in the sky as a live symphony plays is truly magical. The park opens at 5pm, and the show begins at 8pm both days. Be sure to note these parking instructions, as on–site parking is $15, but you can park off site and take a shuttle for free.
McLean 4th of July Fireworks
Where: Churchill Road Elementary School | McLean, VA
When: July 4
McLean’s annual Independence Day Celebration returns to Churchill Road Elementary School. The fireworks show begins at sunset, approximately 9:15pm. In addition to the large fireworks display, patrons can come early to enjoy musical entertainment by a local disc jockey, as well as food trucks selling a variety of entrees and snacks.
Crabs & Ice Cream
Where: Brookland’s Finest | Brookland, DC
When: July 4
Admission: The cost of your eats & treats
Brookland’s Finest will be celebrating the holiday with a crab feast and a local ice cream pop-up. The restaurant will serve Maryland blue crabs with sweet corn, red potatoes, and andouille sausage in a spicy Old Bay broth with flights of Right Proper Brewery beers for from 11am – 10:30pm. Top it off with some ice cream! Bri’s Brookland Creamery will serve $4 scoops of ice cream ($3 for kids scoop) on the patio from 12-5pm, featuring brown sugar vanilla, strawberry, cookies & cream, chocolate brownie, and mint chocolate chunk flavors.
Picnic Baskets to Celebrate
Where: Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken | DC & VA
When: Pick Up July 4
More like a how to celebrate than a where, Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken is offering a special summer picnic basket at their DC and Virginia locations. Each basket includes Astro’s signature fried chicken, cole slaw, cheddar biscuits, and, of course, doughnuts. Astro’s ‘USA doughnuts’ are included in the package along with Peach Cobbler and Creme Brûlée Doughnuts. It will be available for pick up on July 4 from 8am – 5pm at G Street and from 8am – 8pm at Falls Church. Pre-orders must be placed online by 3pm on July 3. Limited quantities of baskets will be available for walk-ins.