Independence Day is one of the best days to spend in the nation’s capital. There’s a lot happening so it can feel a little overwhelming if you’re not prepared. But don’t worry! These are our top five tips for enjoying the 4th of July in DC.
1. Stay downtown
We always advice visitors stay downtown. It’s convenient and will save you a ton of travel time. However, it is especially important if you want to do the 4th of July in DC. You are going to have the best experience if you’re staying close to the action. There are a lot of road closures on the 4th of July which can make it hard to get around. The Circulator bus and other bus routes on the National Mall do not operate at all.
Staying downtown will give you the chance to take few hours during the middle of the day, walk back to your hotel, bask in the air conditioning, and relax and recharge for a few hours. Then you can head back out for the evening activities. Don’t assume you can’t afford to stay downtown because of all the tourist traffic. Because there are no business travelers over holidays like the 4th of July, hotel rates are usually quite reasonable.
2. Watch the fireworks from the National Mall
A bad piece of advice the locals often dish out is to skip the National Mall on the 4th of July. Will it be crowded? Of course. However, this should not deter you from heading down. It’s important to know that a large section of the National Mall gets fenced off and you can only enter it through a limited number of security checkpoints. The secure area includes the Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial and Washington Monument.
We like to sit in the area near the museums. This is outside of the secure area so it’s a bit easier to get in and out. It is a little farther away but the view is still excellent.
3. Avoid Metro immediately after the fireworks
Another reason to stay downtown is that after the fireworks, Metro can be miserable. Some People leave the fireworks show early just so that they can beat the Metro rush!
Many hotels downtown are an easy walk of the National Mall. So, afterwards you can just pick up and walk back to your room. However, if you do have to get on Metro, just wait around for a little bit and let the crowds thin out before you start heading back. If you are not traveling with kids, you can head north of the National Mall up 7th St or you can head east past the Capitol and grab a drink before you head back.
4. Attend the dress rehearsal for A Capitol Fourth
If you’ve ever watched the Independence Day fireworks on PBS, you’ve probably also seen the concert. This is a really popular event. If you want to make this part of your 4th of July in DC you should plan to arrive several hours early.
Our recommendation is to attend the full dress rehearsal that they usually do on July 3rd. It is the same show, minus the fireworks of course, and with a smaller crowd, so you don’t have to arrive nearly as early.
5. Do some patriotic daytime activities
One of the most unique things that you can do on July 4th in DC is to see a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence from the steps of the National Archives. The Archives is where the original Declaration is kept.
Immediately after, the National Independence Day Parade begins. The Parade route is about a mile down Constitution Avenue. It is very patriotic with floats, marching bands, military units, and of course a ton of red white and blue.
We really like to go to see the Washington Nationals play on Independence Day. What’s more American than seeing the national pastime in the nation’s capital? This game starts early in the day, so you will have plenty of time for other Independence Day activities afterward.
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Trip Hacks DC was founded by Rob, a veteran tour guide in the Nation’s Capital. Trip Hacks DC provides tips, tricks and travel hacks for planning your trip; and guided tours to show you around once you get here. Our tours are family and school group friendly and our guides specialize in the major Washington, DC sites. Click here to check out the upcoming tour options and to book your tour here today! Feel free to contact us if you have any tour questions.