There’s no other place like Washington, DC for the Fourth of July! Whether you're looking to celebrate with a bang or something more low-key, check out these entertaining, and FREE, ways to have a blast this Independence Day!
1. Enjoy the Free 'A Capitol Fourth' Concert at the U.S. Capitol
Celebrate the 4th on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol at the annual "A Capitol Fourth" concert, which begins at 8pm. This year's concert features the legendary Carole King alongside the Broadway cast of Beautiful starring Vanessa Carlton, as well as a 50th anniversary tribute to Sesame Street and a performance of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture by the National Symphony Orchestra. The grand finale features awesome fireworks over the National Mall.
2. Explore water activities, music, fireworks and more at DC's waterfronts
From the Anacostia river to the Potomac, DC's waterfronts offer exciting entertainment and recreational activities. Bike ride along the Anacostia River on the Anacostia Trail; rock out to live music and a star-spangled fireworks show on the piers at The Wharf; admire stunning views at restaurants just steps from the river at the Capitol Riverfront; and get out on the water in kayaks and canoes in Georgetown.
3. Take a historical trip to see the country's founding documents (and fathers!)
There's no better time to visit the National Archives than the Fourth of July. Original copies of the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the founding documents of the United States, are all on display there. After seeing these essential and historic documents, meet the Founding Fathers who helped establish the birth of a nation with programming featuring costumed actors in Revolutionary-era costumes.
4. Pay a visit to see the presidential portraits at the National Gallery of Art
What better time to pay homage to the former U.S. presidents than on the Fourth of July? The presidents of the United States are forever immortalized in America’s Presidents, the only complete collection of presidential portraits outside of the White House. The exhibit features multiple images of every president (the current commander-in-chief excluded), including the famous “Lansdowne” portrait of George Washington (painted by Gilbert Stuart), a stunning portrait of Barack Obama by Kehinde Wileythe, the Alexander Gardner “cracked-plate” portrait of Abraham Lincoln and even caricatured sculptures of Lyndon Johnson, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter.
5. Admire the county's First Ladies at the National Museum of American History
Behind every great man, is a great woman. The First Ladies exhibit at the National Museum of American History explores the unofficial but important position of first lady and the ways that different women have shaped the role to make their own contributions to the presidential administrations and the nation. The exhibition features more than two dozen gowns from the Smithsonian’s almost 100-year old First Ladies Collection, including those worn by Frances Cleveland, Lou Hoover, Jacqueline Kennedy, Laura Bush, and Michelle Obama.
6. Visit the Original Star-Spangled Banner
Observe the flag that inspired our national anthem in a two-story display chamber that protects the flag while providing a dramatic view of its “broad stripes and bright stars.” The exhibit tells the dramatic story of the flag and traces its journey from Mary Pickersgill’s house to the Smithsonian.
7. Watch a stunning fireworks display on the National Mall
Red, white and boom! Fireworks are the highlight of any Fourth of July celebration. Set off against a backdrop of magnificent monuments and memorials, DC's are particularly gasp-worthy and there are plenty of places to get a great view. The general rule of thumb: If you can see the monuments, you'll be able to see the fireworks.
Anywhere on the Mall has a great view but the steps of the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials are the most popular (and most crowded!); regardless, pack your blanket and snacks and plan to arrive early to claim your spot; and a number of nearby rooftop bars like the Hay-Adams, POV at the W Hotel, and the rooftop at the Watergate offer panoramic views (be aware: they charge a premium for fireworks seating) are just a few options for a spectacular light show.
8. Experience "Lawn," the immersive, summertime exhibit at the National Building Museum
The phrase "get off my lawn" takes on a whole new meaning at the anticipated reveal of the summertime installation at the National Building Museum as part of its Summer Block Party series.This year's immersive exhibit, Lawn, will allow guests to unwind in communal lounging green spaces where they can enjoy refreshments and quintessential summer activities lawn games like croquet, bocce ball, and dominoes while connecting to the design of the Museum.
(photo credit: nbm.org)
9. Take a tour of DC's monuments, memorials and heritage trails
The history of the U.S. is told through the monuments and memorials along the National Mall and the story of DC's past is highlighted by heritage trail markers erected by Cultural Tourism throughout the city's diverse neighborhoods. Embark on a self-guided or organized tour to appreciate the history and wonder of the nation's capital and its landmarks.
10. Get back to nature in a park or on a trail
Enjoy a leisurely walk, or challenge yourself with a hike, at one of the DC-area’s many public trails and parks. Rock Creek Park in Northwest DC is a great option too and is more than twice the size of New York’s Central Park.
With these DC quintessentials, you’re sure to have an excellent holiday.
Now that you know what to do during the day, here are our recommendations of 10 off-the-beaten path places to see the big explosive fireworks show! Happy Fourth of July!
Holiday or an ordinary day of the week, Curious Caravan will plan your custom-designed DC adventures will lead you to explore the city off-the-beaten path like a local.
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