A Guide to the 4th of July in DC

Written by Mallie Woodfin – Coordinator, Recruitment & Admissions

Washington, DC is unquestionably one of the top places to be for the 4th of July. The endless activities, exhilarating energy and history of the city make DC a great place to celebrate. We’ve come up with a quick guide to help you enjoy the holiday as a Washingtonian!


  • Independence Day Parade – Put on your red, white and blue and head to
    Constitution Avenue to kick off the holiday. There will be bands, drill teams, balloons and floats. The parade starts at 11:45am.  4th street
  • National’s Game – DC’s baseball team will take on the San Francisco Giants at Nat’s Park at 11:05am. Enjoy a 4th of July hot dog or half-smoke from Ben’s Chili Bowl.
  • Museums – A classic DC activity enhanced during the holiday. Escape the heat and see The Declaration of Independence at the National Archives, or the flag that inspired the Star-Spangled Banner at the National Museum of American History.
  • A Capitol Fourth – If you want to have a true 4th of July in DC, this event can’t be missed! The free concert will be held on the Capitol’s West Lawn at 8pm (gates open at 3pm). For all the West Wing fans out there, actor Bradley Whitford – also known as White House Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman, is the host. He will introduce performers including headliner Barry Manilow, Nicole Scherzinger, KC and The Sunshine Band plus many more. The National Mall will be extremely crowded so plan to arrive early! (Insider Tip: If you want to avoid the crowd, there will be a full dress rehearsal on Friday night.)

The DC fireworks show is one to be remembered! What could be a better backdrop than The Capitol and iconic monuments? And the best part is there really isn’t a bad place to sit and take in the outstanding performance:

  • The National Mall – This is an obvious yet perfect place to watch the show. You are sure to have a great view no matter where you sit. While The Mall is pretty big, it will fill up quicker than you’d imagine so get there early!4th
  • Gravelly Point Park – Many people flock to this park on the Potomac to catch the views from Virginia.
  • Georgetown Waterfront – Grab a quick bite to eat from one of the many restaurants in the area and enjoy the show water-side. (Insider Tip: The Key Bridge is a less common viewpoint to try.)
  • On the Potomac – If being on dry land isn’t what you have in mind, take your celebration to the river! There are a number of cruises offering food, drinks and an unbeatable view. While this option is a little pricey, a cheaper alternative is renting a kayak from one of the boathouses around the city.

If food is on the top of your to-do list, two ‘presidential’ restaurants are a good place to be!

  • Lincoln – The trendy restaurant is a hotspot throughout the year. They are hosting an Independence Day Party on Saturday with bottomless BBQ and a DJ.
  • Teddy and the Bully Bar – The sister restaurant to Lincoln is hosting a ‘Cue and Crabs’ party from 2-11pm.

Things to Keep in Mind:

  • Transportation – The metro will be extra crowded this weekend. If you are going to The Mall, get on/off at a stop a few stops away to avoid congestion. Metro will run on a Saturday schedule on Friday and Saturday until 2pm, with increased service before and after the fireworks. (Insider Tip: Taxis and ubers may be hard to come by with the extra influx of people in the city. If you can, try to stay within walking distance of your housing.)
  • Security – There will be a number of checkpoints along the National Mall and other surrounding areas. People, bags and coolers are subject to inspection, and no alcoholic beverages will be permitted.
  • Stay in groups and be aware – This applies to anytime you explore a city, but especially during busy holidays. Always have a buddy with you, make sure your group knows where you are going and be aware of your surroundings.
  • Be prepared – It is likely to be a long and hot day. Pack plenty of water, food and sunscreen to last you throughout the day.


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