Five Free Ways to Spend Fourth of July In Washington, DC

Brace yourself: Fourth of July in Washington, DC pictures are coming. I mean, you knew this had to happen with me, right? The Cherry Blossom posts probably tipped you off that I’m embracing my new hometown in a massive way.

What you may not know about me is that I am a total Sue Heck when it comes to patriotism. I just love America so much! 

Every Fourth of July you could find me in front the TV watching the celebrations from some of my favorite historical locations: Boston, New York, and of course, Washington, DC!

Perhaps above all others, I dreamed of spending the Fourth of July in Washington, DC.

Fourth of July In Washington, DC

And guess what… that dream is coming true with this new move.

East coast does have its perks!

Before anyone feels the need to tell me how insanely crowded this is going to be: I know. I promise I know.

I’ve got a plan AND a dream, my friends. Plus we are veterans when it comes to navigating crazy crowds.

I’ve got this!

Five free ways to spend Fourth of July in Washington, DC.

 

 

Free Fourth of July in Washington, DC

A CAPITOL FOURTH CONCERT

Patriotic music? Fabulous Stars? All for free? Have mercy… I’m in!

Five free things for families to celebrate a patriotic Fourth of July in Washington DC | 4th of July DC | Capitol 4th | Fireworks Washington DC

John Stamos hosts A Capitol Fourth in Washington, DC Photo: PBS

One of my TV highlights was watching the concert before the fireworks in DC. People hanging out on the west lawn in the shadow of the Capitol building, singing and waving flags… ‘Merica!

A Capitol Fouth is the annual event that is number one on my list. Now I’m just trying to decide if I want to be smart and show up for the dress rehearsal the night before (fewer crowds, less waiting- but also free!) or if I want to go all in for my first experience and be there on the night of 4th.

Decisions, decisions.

Folks are allowed into the lawn area starting at 3 pm; bring your picnic & alcohol-free drinks and sit a spell.

 

EXPERIENCE THE SMITHSONIAN MUSEUMS

This has become one of my family’s favorite things about being in the DC area.

I love visiting because of the history and because it’s FREE. My kids love to visit because it makes me happy.

Not really, but I can pretend, right?

Five free things for families to celebrate a patriotic Fourth of July in Washington DC | 4th of July DC | Capitol 4th | Fireworks Washington DC

Reading the actual Declaration of Independence & Constitution: I totally Hecke’ed it up in here.

Top on the list of museums to visit on the 4th of July: the National Portrait Gallery, the American History Museum and the National Archives. Due to their incredible exhibits (the Presidental portraits, the First Lady’s exhibit, the Star Spangled Banner, and of course, the Declaration of Independence), these are my personal top 3 museums that I’ve visited thus far.

Oh my goodness, my nerd flag is flying right now because I’m getting a little giddy just thinking about it!

 

EVERYONE LOVES A PARADE

What Fourth of July in Washington, DC would be complete without a parade? Constitution Avenue is the place to be!

The Parade consists of invited bands, fife and drum corps, floats, military and specialty units, giant balloons, equestrian, drill teams, VIP’s, national dignitaries, and celebrity participants.

Can you hear the sobbing coming from me yet? I just might be *that* lady over there openly weeping as the fife and drum corp passes by.

Five free things for families to celebrate a patriotic Fourth of July in Washington DC | 4th of July DC | Capitol 4th | Fireworks Washington DC

Photo: Copyright 2007 musiccelebrations.com

The National Independence Parade starts at 11:45 am between 7th and 17th streets. Typically the end of the parade has less of a crowd, so if you are looking to avoid people (ha- as if on the 4th!) that might be the best bet.

 

VISIT THE MONUMENTS

There is nothing I’ve loved more about moving to Washington than visiting the monuments.

For the Fourth of July with my family, saying thank you to a couple of founding fathers are a must-do.

Five free things for families to celebrate a patriotic Fourth of July in Washington DC | 4th of July DC | Capitol 4th | Fireworks Washington DC

The Jefferson Memorial is one of our favorite places in DC.

The Thomas Jefferson Memorial is tucked away from the action near the Tidal Basin but is an easy walk from the mall area. I’m also banking that it might be a smidge less crowded after the chaos of the Mall.

And of course, you can’t miss the George Washington Memorial which takes center stage on the National Mall. While the tour is closed to visitors right now, it’s still a mighty fine sight to see on a day celebrating our hard-won independence.

If you can’t make it over to them on the 4th, just know that the monuments are always open and they are always free to visit!

 

OHH AND AHH OVER THE FIREWORKS 

This is the big show, and I’m ready to be front and center on the National Mall for this one!

Or maybe across the Potomac at Iwo Jima.

Or up on the hill of the National Cathedral.

Both of which, I hear, offer stunning and meaningful views of the firework show.

Five free things for families to celebrate a patriotic Fourth of July in Washington DC | 4th of July DC | Capitol 4th | Fireworks Washington DC

In my research, I’ve seen pictures of the fireworks exploding behind the monument. So moving!

Gah! I can’t decide! So many choices, so many viewpoints.

But there’s only one me and only one night. I’m still working on the plan and my kids are saying Ma, please, another month of obsessing over this?

It’s like they don’t even know me…

What tips do you have for visiting our nation’s capital on this special day?

Five free things for families to celebrate a patriotic Fourth of July in Washington DC | 4th of July DC | Capitol 4th | Fireworks Washington DC

 

Comments

  • Erin Williams says:

    As a kid I was always part of the ticket procurement team a week or two out. We were dispatched to pick up the free tickets for admission to the top deck of the Kennedy Center for the fireworks. They played the live feed from the concert and the view of the fireworks was spectacular.

    – Erin

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Patty Holliday


Patty is a 40-ish mother of four living in Virginia. A bit geeky, sometimes sarcastic, lover of a candid confession. She's trying to love running, she swears. But much like her marathon, it’s taking a very long time. Ahem. She's searching for the perfect way to balance family, work, travel, and fitness. Perfect defined as high on fun, low on guilt.

TMOM Travel Writer