Weekend Picks: 4th of July in DC

Megan Jones is serving as the program advisor for the public policy track of the Engalitcheff Institute. Her entry is the fourth in the series of “Weekend Picks” for TFAS interns spending their 2011 summer in DC.

There’s no better place to celebrate America’s birthday than DC!  Here are a few suggestions of ways to make the most of your Independence Day weekend.

National July 4th Parade
Enjoy some traditional holiday fun at the national July 4th Parade, which starts at 11:45 am at the U.S. Capitol Building and ends at the Lincoln Memorial. The parade route follows Constitution Avenue beginning at 7th St., NW, and ending at 17th St., NW. Don’t forget to wave to Mom while she’s watching at home!

The National Archives
Sign a copy of the Declaration of Independence and meet Thomas Jefferson in the rotunda of the National Archives. The Archives host special festivities running throughout the day.  Learn more at www.archives.gov/dc-metro/events/july-august.html#july4th.

Smithsonian Folklife Festival
Make sure to check out the Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the Mall. This year’s festival celebratesColombia, the Peace Corps, and Rhythm and Blues with fun demonstrations, food and exhibits. It runs from June 30-July 4 and from July 7- 11.  Don’t forget to stake out a spot for the concerts and fireworks!

Capitol Fourth Concert
The Capitol Fourth concert takes place on the Capitol Lawn starting at 8pm, but you will want to claim a spot well in advance. Stars including Jordin Sparks, Matthew Morrison, Josh Groban, and Steve Martin will perform in honor of our nation’s founding. If you’d prefer to beat the crowds, check out the dress rehearsal on July 3rd, 8 – 9:30 pm.

And for the grand finale, FIREWORKS!  Nothing you’ve seen on TV can compare to seeing DC’s spectacular fireworks in person. Whether you get close to the action by claiming a spot on the Mall or walk over to Rosslyn to view them across thePotomac, DC’s fireworks are a sight worth seeing.

To learn more about where you can enter the Mall for firework viewing, visit the Washington Post’s guide here:

Here are some suggestions for great spots to watch fireworks:

  • U.S.Capitol
  • LincolnMemorial
  • JeffersonMemorial
  • FDR Memorial
  • EastPotomacPark
  • Anywhere along the National Mall between14th Streetand the Capitol
  • Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima) inArlington,Virginianear the Rosslyn Metro station

For more information on the many events going on in DC, check out the National Parks Service’s comprehensive guide: www.nps.gov/ncro/PublicAffairs/Independenceday.htm.  From interpreters in period dress near the Jefferson Monument to the Navy Band concert on the Washington Monument grounds, the NPS has something to please any TFASer.

Travel Tips
The Smithsonian Metro stop will be closed for security purposes. The metro system as a whole will be extremely crowded on the 4th, especially at the conclusion of the fireworks. Walking or taking a cab may be the best option. Be aware that you will have to go through security in many high traffic areas, so pack your bags lightly and only bring necessary items.

Have a safe and happy Fourth!