Like dessert after a great meal, fireworks are the best part of any Fourth of July celebration.
If you want to have a great time watching the bombastic light show, avoid the National Mall and instead check out our picks for some of the best off-the-beaten path spots to where you can watch the big explosive display.
1. Enjoy cocktails and panoramic views at rooftop bars
There are several bars and hotels with great rooftops in DC to watch the fireworks in comfort on Independence Day. POV Rooftop at the W Hotel, the rooftop at the Embassy Row, and Top of the Gate at the Watergate and Sky Bar at the Beacon Hotel are just a few that offer special ticketed fireworks viewing events. Make sure to check with the restaurants for details and ticket information.
2. Watch from the U.S. Supreme Court Plaza
The most powerful court in the country has a spacious 252-foot wide oval plaza that offers unobstructed views of the stunning fireworks bursting in air. It's a popular and patriotic spot so be sure early to find a spot to enjoy the show. Who knows, maybe you'll bump into Ruth Bader Ginsberg while you're there!
3. Head NW to National Cathedral
Located in the Northeast quadrant and don't want to make the trek down to the National Mall? No problem. Because it's one of the highest points in DC, National Cathedral is a great place away from the crowds to see the colorful light show. The best spots for optimal views include the grassy slope and the parking lot.
4. Catch a show and stay for the view from the Kennedy Center Terrace
Whether you're at Kennedy Center to see a show or not, the terrace undeniably offers one of the best views of the city, so expect one of the best views of the fireworks.
5. Head to the Francis Scott Key Bridge
Enjoy spectacular views of the waterfront and the fireworks overhead from the pedestrian path of the Francis Scott Key Bridge. Afterwards, head into Georgetown to enjoy the lively nightlife and continue the celebration.
6. Reading, writing and fireworks at Cardozo High School
Yep, you read that correctly. This high school (1200 Clifton St NW) is one of the best places, and best kept secrets (until now!), to watch the fireworks. Its grassy slopes and hilltop location makes it an ideal place for fireworks watching. And about two miles away, east of North Capitol Street, McKinley Tech High School (151 T Street NE) is another academic locale where groups go on the fourth to gaze at the sky.
7. For more wide, open space venture to Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park and other green spaces
Locals flock to Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park more than than its weekend drum circles. Designed on a slope, it offers a verdant setting for when the fireworks go ka-boom. Other suggestions for parks to watch the show include Anacostia Park, Lady Bird Johnson Park on the Potomac, and the lovers lane known by most as Gravelly Point Park.
8. Get patriotic at U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial
Not only is the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial a great fireworks vantage point, it's also the perfect setting for getting in the right patriotic mood for the event.
9. It's a bird, it's a plane and fireworks bursting in air at Gravelly Point
You might not hear the fireworks exploding with the sound of airplane taking off and landing at Reagan National Airport, but it's hard to find a more exciting spot to watch the Independence Day colorful light show.
10. Treat yourself to a luxury fireworks viewing experience on the Potomac
If you're looking to splurge upwards of 200 bucks, you can lounge in the middle of the Potomac River, beer in hand, and watch the fireworks fall overhead. The Odyssey promises a four-hour shindig complete with a plated dinner, live music, dancing, an open bar, and “spectacular views of the monuments and fireworks.” Meanwhile, a trip aboard the Spirit of Washington includes a buffet-style dinner, DJ entertainment, an open bar, and “incredible views” of the fireworks.
Looking for things to do to celebrate the Fourth before the nighttime fireworks? From a capitol concert, a visit to see the country's founding documents, relaxing at the city's waterfronts and more, #SeeDCDifferently with our hand-picked recommendations this Independence Day.
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