Independence Day Celebration in the Nation’s Capital

American flags around the national monument

July 4th, also known as Independence Day, brings much excitement to Washington, DC. Throughout the long weekend, the District hosts a variety of events in celebration of the anniversary of America’s independence. Here is your weekend itinerary:

Saturday, June 30 – Tuesday, July 4

One of DC’s summertime traditions, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, is a free event being held from June 27-July 1 and from July 4-July 8. The festival occurs from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. and features concerts, food, dancing, a marketplace and more. It’s a tradition you won’t want to miss!

Stop by the National Archives to see the original copies of the Declaration of Independence, US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Actors will be dressed in Revolutionary-era garb as part of the special holiday programming. The National Archives Building even features special programming from June 30 until Independence Day with musical performances, chocolate tastings, historical debates, balloon art and more.

Wednesday, July 4

Are you a big baseball fan? The Washington Nationals will play their annual Independence Day game against the Boston Red Sox. First pitch is at 11:05 a.m. Get your tickets here.

Head down to Constitution Avenue between 7th and 17th streets for the National Independence Day Parade. The annual parade starts at 11:45 a.m. and features bands, floats, military units, national dignitaries and celebrities, lasting until about 2 p.m.

Finish off the holiday weekend with the Capitol Fourth Concert and Fireworks Show. The concert is held on the West Lawn of the US Capitol and begins at 8 p.m. This year’s performers include John Stamos (who will be hosting the event), The Beach Boys, Pentatonix, Andy Grammer, the National Symphony Orchestra and more! Fireworks are set to follow.

Other Must-Sees

DC has quite a reputation for having the best brunch deals, and it’d be a shame to not try out one of the local favorites. Farmers Fishers Bakers in Georgetown, Penn Commons in Penn Quarter, or NoPa in Chinatown/Penn Quarter are just some of many wonderful restaurants in the area that offer delicious brunch options.

Smithsonian’s National Zoo never disappoints! While Bei Bei, the giant panda born in August 2015, is a fan favorite, the zoo is home to a diverse bunch of animals the whole family is sure to fall in love with. The zoo also offers free programs from 10:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. Entrance is free, and Metro travel is recommended due to parking fees.

Take a break from the heat and enjoy 42 dancing water jets at Capitol Riverfront’s Canal Park. The park is located near Nationals Park and variety of local restaurants, and it is great for children.

Other local must-try restaurants include Clyde’s of Gallery Place (Chinatown), Ted’s Bulletin (Eastern Market), Le Diplomate (14th Street), Old Ebbitt Grill (White House), Hank’s Oyster Bar (Dupont), Floriana (Dupont) and Chicken & Whiskey (14th Street).

One of DC’s newer attractions, the Newseum, made TripAdvisor’s 2016 Travelers’ Choice Top 25 Museums in the US (and for good reason!). The exhibits showcase the history of printed and electronic communication, and the museum features several unique interactive components. The Newseum is not part of the Smithsonian group, and tickets can be purchased online in advance. Adult tickets are $25, youth tickets (ages 7-18) are $15 and children under age 6 are free.

Key Metro Stops

National Mall: Use Smithsonian (Blue, Orange, Silver), Metro Center (Red, Blue, Orange, Silver), Gallery Place-Chinatown (Red, Green, Yellow), Judiciary Square (Red), Federal Triangle (Blue, Orange, Silver), L’Enfant Plaza (Blue, Orange, Silver, Green, Yellow)

Nationals Stadium/Yards Park: Navy Yard (Green)

Smithsonian National Zoo: Woodley Park-Zoo (Red)

Penn Quarters: Archives (Green), Gallery Place-Chinatown (Red, Green, Yellow)

Eastern Market: Eastern Market (Blue, Orange, Silver)

14th Street: U Street (Yellow, Green)

White House: Farragut West (Blue, Orange, Silver), Farragut North (Red), McPherson Square (Blue, Orange, Silver), Metro Center (Red, Blue, Orange, Silver)

Dupont Circle: Dupont (Red)

Newseum: Archives (Green, Yellow), Judiciary Square (Red)

Other Weekend Recommendations

Some guidelines to ensure a happy, stress-free weekend include the following:

  1. Travel by Metro, and be sure to check online for any updates. Significant inflows of visitors into the city will make driving and parking challenging. Metro daily and weekly passes are available to fit your commuting needs.
  2. Leave pets at home. The large crowds and loud noises from the fireworks can be very stressful for your animals. If needed, look for hotel accommodations that allow animals.
  3. Stay hydrated. The heat and exercise can have harmful side effects, so be proactive and stock up!
  4. Plan ahead. Restaurants downtown will have larger than normal wait times. Call ahead or book reservations in advance to avoid long wait times, especially if you have children.
  5. Keep prohibited items in mind. Be mindful of things like weapons, glass containers and alcohol that are prohibited from public areas.


Written by Ashley Miller.