Independence Day Celebration in the Nation’s Capital

American flags around the national monument

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

Saturday, July 1 – Monday, July 3

One of DC’s summertime traditions, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, is a free event that will be held through July 4 from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM. This festival features concerts, food, dancing, a marketplace and more. This year is the 50th anniversary of the event!

On Saturday, July 1, and Sunday, July 2, Yards Park hosts the Red, White & Brew Beer & Wine Festival. General admission tickets include unlimited American beer, cider and wine sangria plus live music and access to the famous DC food trucks. Individual tickets start at $50 with 6+ group tickets at $29 each. Yards Park is located near the Nationals Stadium on 1st Street SE. Three available sessions include Saturday 1-4 PM, Saturday 6-9 PM and Sunday 1-4 PM. Please note, this is a 21+ event requiring all guests to present a valid government-issued ID.

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.

Tuesday, July 4

Are you a big baseball fan? The Washington Nationals will play their annual Independence Day game against the New York Mets. First pitch is at 11:05 AM.

Head down to Constitution Avenue between 7th and 17th streets for the National Independence Day Parade. The annual parade starts at 11:45 AM and features bands, floats, military units, national dignitaries and celebrities. Public access to the National Mall begins at 10:00 AM and the one-mile parade will last until about 2:00 PM.

Finish off the holiday weekend with a Capitol Fourth Concert and Fireworks show. The concert is held on the West Lawn of the US Capitol and begins at 8:00 PM. This year’s performers include John Stamos (who will be hosting the event), The Beach Boys, The Blues Brothers, Chris Blue, Trace Adkins, the National Symphony Orchestra, The US Army Presidential Salute Battery and more! The fireworks are set to follow around 9:30 PM.

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 the many wonderful restaurants.

Smithsonian’s National Zoo never disappoints! Bei Bei, the giant panda born in August 2015 is a fan favorite. The zoo also offers free programs from 10:30 AM – 2:00 PM. Entrance is free, but there is a parking fee, so Metro travel is recommended.

Capitol Riverfront’s Canal Park– Take a break from the heat and enjoy 42 dancing water jets. The park is located near Nationals Park and variety of great local restaurants and 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 Ebbit 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 features an interactive component unlike some of the other museums in Washington. 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. Currently, there is an online promotion for a 15 percent discount on all tickets and free youth tickets for each adult ticket purchased (maximum of 4 tickets).

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- National 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- Gallery Place-Chinatown (Red, Green, Yellow)

Other Weekend Recommendations

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

  1. Travel by Metro, and be sure to check their website for any updates. Significant inflows of visitors into the city will make driving and parking a nightmare. 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. 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. Prohibited items. Be mindful of things like weapons, glass containers and alcohol that are prohibited from the public areas.

Written by Ashley Miller