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Top Things to Do in DC on Fourth of July

Updated: October 22, 2023

Visiting DC for the Fourth of July?

The nation's capital is in full Independence swing and there is plenty to do, from fireworks to parades, and we made a list of all there is to enjoy in DC on the Fourth of July.

  • See the Fireworks
  • Watch the Fourth of July Parade
  • Attend the Capitol Fourth Concert
  • See the Decleration of Independence
  • Go to a Nationals Game
  • Visit National Museum of American History
  • Meet General Washington at Mount Vernon
  • Take a Walking Tour
  • Learn about All the Different sides of American History

Keep reading for details about each!



DC is the perfect place to spend Independence Day. There are plenty of places to see and things to do to. This section covers our top five list for Fourth of July.

For more ideas on popular things to do in DC, check out our posts on bus tours and walking tours of the city.

Some of the items listed in this post are included for free with the purchase of a tourist discount pass


Disclosure: While our recommendations are always unbiased, we may receive a small share of sales through some of the links below at no cost to you. See the full text.

Where possible we link to websites that often offer discounted ticket prices (like StubHub). While we are unable to confirm their prices are the best, they are all verified ticket resellers .

1. See the Fireworks on the National Mall

Fireworks in DC has always been the centerfold for celebrating Independence Day.

Assuming 2023 fireworks are similar to year's past, here are some suggestions about where to watch the fireworks in DC:

    • If you want to watch on the National Mall, you'll need to keep on eye on entry points and prohibited items.
    • The steps of the Lincoln Memorial and grounds around the Washington Monument are usually the most popular places and people come out early in the day to grab a spot.
    • Certain areas of the National Mall are usually closed (around the Reflecting Pool for example)
    • The steps of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial are also a popular place to gather to watch the fireworks.

Other Places to See Fireworks

While the most exciting place to see the fireworks are on the National Mall, if you're trying to escape the crows we have some other options:

  • Find a rooftop bar.
    • DC has some incredible rooftop bars, which are great places to watch the fireworks from. One great spot is the W Hotel's POV rooftop bar, which overlooks the National Mall.  The Watergate and Kennedy Center Rooftop are also great options.
  • Go up hill:
    • Many locals head to areas up the hill from the National Mall such as the National Cathedral - which has ample grassy spots to sit and watch. Or a hill a little closer is Capitol Hill and the steps of the Supreme Court offer beautiful views but be warned that right now not all the highest steps are accessible by the public.
  • Watch from Virginia.
  • Watch on the Potomac.
    • Take a boat cruise! There are a number of options to choose from, and this is a great way to see the show with a unique twist. 

2. National Independence Day Parade

The National Independence Day Parade is BACK! You can watch it live online or in person along Constitution Ave NW from 1145am to 2pm.

The parade route is between 7th and 17th St NW on Constitution Ave NW along the National Mall.

There are some seating at the top of the steps at the National Archives but they are limited and go fast!

The best place to watch the Independence Day Parade is towards to end of the parade route where the crowds are thinner.

If you can't go there, you can watch it at 5pm on the youtube channel -

3. Attend 'A Capitol Fourth' concert at the U.S. Capitol

July 4th - Live Broadcast on PBS at 8pm EST -

The Capitol Fourth concert is open to the public with no tickets required to watch.

You can watch both the actual concert on July 4 and the dress rehearsal on July 3. (but no fireworks on the rehearsal night!)

  • GATES OPEN: 3pm

The Capitol Fourth concert is held on the West Lawn of the Capitol (the side of the National Mall). Easily accessible by Union Station or Federal Center SW Metro stops.

Guests will be required to go through metal detector and have all bags checked.

Gates are located at the southwest corner of the Capitol Grounds.

Here's the 2023 Preview:

If you miss the concert, you can also watch it on PBS from the comfortable of a local restaurant or your hotel room. 

For 2023, the concert will be hosted by Alfonso Ribeiro (think Carlton from Fresh Prince) with guests performers Chicago, Boyz II Men, Charles Eston, Maddie & Tae, Belinda Carlisle and a personal favorite - the muppets of Sesame Street!

4. See the Declaration of Independence

In the time when you're not attending a concert or watching fireworks, we recommend a visit to the National Archives Museum to see documents that have shaped our nation.

Inside you will find the Charters of Freedom: the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence.

The National Archives is open late until 7pm for Fourth of July weekend July 1-4, 2023.

The National Archives is free to visit and open to the public. Timed tickets are recommended to skip the line.

Meet George and Martha Washington, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and Uncle Sam throughout the day with a special reading at 10am of the Declaration of Independence, featuring the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, The Old Guard, and the Continental Color Guard will present the colors.

Celebrate with crafts, art and live music 11am- 4pm on July 4.

Find out more -

For more free things to do, check out our Free section below. 

5. Look into a Tourist Discount Pass 

If you'll be in Washington DC for more than just the Fourth of July celebrations, take advantage of a Tourist Discount Pass to help save on admission costs to many of the attractions in town.

  • Take a behind the scenes tour of Nats Park while attending a home game over the holiday weekend.
  • This is the perfect time of year for a Potomac River Cruise, including a nighttime option that views the fireworks.
  • Mount Vernon, George Washington's Estate
  • and more!

Get free admission to our tours and many top DC attractions with a Tourist Discount Pass.

6. Go to a Game

The Washington Nationals are spending Fourth of July at the Nationals Park playing the Cincinnati Reds

You can get tickets to see the Nationals play:

Washington Nationals Baseball Game

Nats Park is located in a lively part of Washington DC called Navy Yard and not too far from our newest waterfront development, the Wharf.

You'll find a number of great restaurants and bars for before or after the game, but Nats Park is an experience in itself.

7. Visit the National Museum of American History

View the highlights of our nation's history and accomplishments at the American History Smithsonian Museum.

Admission is free and no tickets are required.

See the Star Spangled Banner, the First Ladies' Inaugural dresses, an exhibit on superheroes, and plenty more - like Burt and Ernie who will be at the concert in 2023!

You can even take a private guided tour of the museum if you want to make sure you see all the best highlights of the museum.

8. Meet the General at Mount Vernon

Visiting George Washington's beautiful Mount Vernon is always a treat.

In 2023, they have a special American Celebration on July 4 with daytime fireworks.

The event runs from 9am to 5pm. Find out more here:

9. Take a Walking Tour

We offer walking tours - even on July 4! (our National Mall tours do NOT run on July 3 evening through 5 morning due to firework set up and take down).

Explore all DC has to offer with tours of Historic Georgetown, Embassy Row and Capitol Hill.

Pay respects to those who continued to fight for our freedom at Arlington National Cemetery.

See a darker side of history on a Ghost and Scandals tour.

You could also take one of the popular bus tours to see further afield memorials such as Iwo Jima USMC Memorial and Air Force Memorial.

We also offer private guided vehicle tours to see these sites with one of our highly rated tour guides! (contact us for more information)

10. Learn the different perspectives about American History

The "land of the free" also gives us the opportunity to learn from our past mistakes and honor those who were not always free in America.

Washington, DC is the home to many museums and historic sites to honor the history of different Americans in addition the the American History Museum.

About The Author

Canden Arciniega

Follow On Instagram | Canden is a historian & tour guide in Washington DC with 4 published books about the city. She has written for HuffPost Travel and has been featured in the Washington Post, WTOP, and numerous other DC papers. She's also been interviewed by the BBC, NPR, Travel Channel and Discovery Family Channel. Canden is the producer of the podcast, Tour Guide Tell All. She is an authority on D.C. history, and has led tours in the city since 2011. She currently resides in DC, but has also lived in London and South Korea, and has traveled to over 28 countries and every US State but Hawaii. She homeschools her 2 children by exploring the plethora of museums in DC.
Updated: October 22nd, 2023
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