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Top Things to Do in DC on Fourth of July

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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.

This post covers things to do in Washington DC on Fourth of July 2021 including a top 5 list, nighttime activities, family-friendly things to do, and free things. Read our master post on things to do in DC any time of year.





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


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1. See the Fireworks on the National Mall

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

At the time of writing, information about the fireworks is still being provided to the public. Assuming 2021 fireworks are similar to year's past, here are some suggestions about where to watch the fireworks in DC:

  • ON THE NATIONAL MALL: 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)


  • TIDAL BASIN: 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. Our favorite place to watch the fireworks across the river is from the Iwo Jima Marine Corp Memorial. There's plenty of grassy space to stretch out on. Parking will be difficult but taking the Metro is easy and convenient. 


  • 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 cancelled but the local Capitol Hill July 4 Parade is back! It will take place on Capitol Hill neighborhood's Barracks Row on July 4.

More information is coming about this parade but it is a chance to get out into the neighborhoods and explore the real DC. There will be local business and restaurants to support and there is so much history in this area that we offer a walking tour of Eastern Market / Barracks Row!

Find out more:

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

July 4th - VIRTUAL

For 2021, the Capitol Building for the annual 'A Capitol Fourth' concert here in Washington, DC will be prerecorded.

You will be able to watch this year's concert online!

Here's the trailer from last year's concert:



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

For 2021, performers include The U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, Choral Arts Society of Washington, and plenty more. For a full list, click here.  


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 free to visit and is currently (2021) open  but only with timed tickets. If you cannot get tickets to visit inside, there are a number of events going on outside (and online!)

Meet George and Martha Washington, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and Uncle Sam throughout the day. Celebrate with crafts, art and live music 9am- 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.

7. Go to a Game

The Washington Nationals are spending Fourth of July at the Nationals Park playing the Los Angeles Dodgers at 11:05 am.

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.

8. 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 though timed tickets are required. 

See the Star Spangled Banner, the First Ladies' Inaugural dresses, an exhibit on superheroes, and plenty more! 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.


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9. Watch Fireworks at Mount Vernon

Visiting George Washington's beautiful Mount Vernon is always a treat. Each year of the Fourth of July they also put on a spectacular fireworks show, which we have a video of below: 



You can come for a mansion tour or just the fireworks, which begin at 9:30pm.  You can get tickets here.


About The Author

Canden Arciniega

Canden is a historian and 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 our podcast, Tour Guide Tell All With a M.A. in History from University College London and a B.A. in History from Elon University, she is an authority on D.C. history, and has led tours in the city for over 10 years. She currently resides in DC, but has also lived in London and South Korea, and has travelled to 28 countries. Her two children (both under the age of 4) have their passports and own frequent flier accounts.
Updated: October 6th, 2021
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