Our nation’s capital is one of the best places to celebrate our nation’s birthday. Head down to the District for some of the best festivities around, from fireworks to festivals and beyond.
Keep in mind that many of the main tourist attractions are closed for the holiday (or have VERY limited hours on the 4th), but the city itself basically turns into a giant block party for the duration, so you’re are sure to have a great time.
Plus, because the 4th of July falls on a Wednesday this year, attractions are open the weekend before and after, making it easy for you to visit a few attractions just before the day itself.
If you’re looking for Washington DC 4th of July Weekend 2018 ideas, check out some of these local activities and fun things do in Washington DC in July, including…
- National Independence Day Parade
- National Mall Fireworks
- A Capitol Fourth
- Washington Monuments Cruise
- and more…
Save on Admission to Popular Attractions
Regular admission to a number of these attractions are available on the Washington DC Explorer Pass.
Choose as you go from top Washington DC attractions & activities and save up to 40% off combined admission vs paying at the gate.
Please note, some of these special July and 4th of July weekend events may be separately ticketed and not available on the Washington DC Explorer Pass.
National Independence Day Parade
This is literally THE official Independence Day Parade for the entire country, and it’s one heck of an extravaganza.
July 4, 2018
You’ll see a vast spectrum of people, floats, bands, and more that populate the parade route, and millions of people flock to this event each year to see this holiday tradition unfold.
The parade begins at 11:45 am, but be in place long before that if you want any chance of getting close to the action. It runs along Constitution from 7th – 17th.
Getting In: The Independence Day Parade is free to watch.
National Mall Fireworks
Here it is…the granddaddy of all fireworks shows.
July 4, 2018
The National Mall’s Fireworks show is one of the best (and in my opinion, the best) Independence Day Fireworks shows in the country.
They’re launched from the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, and are visible from many places in DC and across the river in Virginia.
Many locals make an entire afternoon of it, arriving on the National Mall early to snag a spot with a blanket and some chairs, and sticking around for the fireworks after sunset (a little after 9 pm).
Getting In: The National Mall Firework show is free to watch.
A Capitol Fourth
July 4, 2018
Another major part of DC’s 4th of July landscape, this concert at the US Capitol Building takes place on the building’s West Lawn.
The concert features top musicians from across the country alongside the National Symphony Orchestra and a rousing set list of patriotic songs, including their signature, “1812 Overture.”
Gates open at 3:00 pm and it’s highly recommended that you get there early to secure a spot. The concert begins at 6:00 pm.
Getting In: A Capitol Fourth is free to attend.
The Smithsonian Folklife Festival
June 27 – July 1 and July 4 – 8, 2018
One of my personal favorite events, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival features new peoples and cultures each year in a grand celebration of folk life around the globe and across history.
The featured areas of focus this year are Armenia, Catalonia, and the Sisterfire music festivals of the 1980s. Each offers exciting free content including performances, demonstrations, and activities.
The Festival also encompasses food and drink, artisan tents, a substantial gift shop tent, concerts, and much much more.
Getting In: The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is free to attend
Hang Out on the Harbor
If you want to enjoy the summer air and the fireworks but don’t necessarily want to fight the crowds, it’s a good idea to hang out on the Georgetown Waterfront to enjoy a tasty meal alongside dockside views of the fireworks. Try Tony and Joe’s for some top seafood!
While you’re there, send the kids to play around the Georgetown Waterfront Park, with beautiful vistas alongside fun water features.
If you get a chance before the 4th of July, you might also want to check out the nearby Washington Monuments Cruise, too!
Getting In: Washington Monuments Cruise tickets are are available as an option with the Washington DC Explorer Pass.
Celebrate at George Washington’s Mount Vernon
July 4, 2018
Who better to celebrate our nation’s birthday with than the first President?
Head to George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate for “An American Celebration,” a fun event that honors this historic holiday.
This annual event features special daytime fireworks and historic re-enactments that take place throughout the afternoon.
You can also explore Mount Vernon another time, with ample opportunities to learn about our first President’s life and legacy, as well as the workings of his grand eighteenth-century estate.
Getting In: An American Celebration is included with general admission to Mount Vernon; George Washington’s Mount Vernon tickets are available as an option with the Washington DC Explorer Pass.
Explore DC History
If you want to get out and about and really explore DC before or the holiday itself, you’re in luck – many attractions will still be open both weekends with regular hours.
An option that’s popular with kids and teens is Madame Tussauds DC. A visit to this perennially fascinating attraction is also a great opportunity to brush up on your Presidential history at the Hall of Presidents.
(It’s also a nice complement to a visit to the National Portrait Gallery, where the official Presidential portraits are housed).
Getting In: Madame Tussauds tickets are available as an option with the Washington DC Explorer Pass. Admission to the National Portrait Gallery is free.
There are plenty more museums to explore if you’re interested in soaking up more history, culture, and arts.
A popular option that makes sense around the 4th of July is the Newseum, which highlights the history of news-reporting and several newsworthy trends and events. It’s a great interactive museum that has much to offer visitors of all ages.
Another fun option that showcases both history and nature is the National Geographic Museum. This institution features a wide variety of collections and exhibitions that cover a curated selection of topics from past and current magazines.
Of course, you can’t go wrong with a visit to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, which is basically the authority on all things US-history related in the area. They’ll have plenty of fun 4th of July-themed souvenirs, too.
Enjoy America’s Favorite Pastime
Can you get more American than a baseball game on the 4th of July, played in our nation’s capital? (By a team named the Washington Nationals, no less?) Head to Nat’s Park this July 4th to see their valiant efforts against the Boston Red Sox.
The game on July 4 is at 11:05 am, too, leaving you plenty of time to enjoy the evening holiday events like the concert and fireworks.
If you don’t have the time to make a game (baseball can be a big commitment), then join up with a tour the weekend before to enjoy exploring this charming ballpark.
Getting In: Nationals Ballpark Tour tickets are available as an option with the Washington DC Explorer Pass; Ball game tickets are separately priced and are not included.
Go on a Patriotic Walking Tour
Explore the city on a themed walking tour that truly captures the patriotic spirit of this holiday weekend.
With Washington Walks, you can choose from a variety of tours that focus on particular aspects of American history and DC culture, including a walking tour that focuses on the buildings and sites of significance to Alexander Hamilton and his time (inspired by the hit musical) (on July 2, 2018) and a tour of Georgetown (on July 6, 2018).
Getting In: Washington Walks tickets are available as an option with the Washington DC Explorer Pass.
Remember to Save on Attraction Admission
There you go – plenty of fun ideas for things to do in Washington DC in July to help you plan your 4th of July weekend itinerary.
Remember, a few of these great attraction options are available on the Washington DC Explorer Pass.
Please note, the 4th of July events taking place at some of these attractions may be separately ticketed and not available on the DC Explorer Pass.
Consider adding a few of these fun options to your summer vacation itinerary.
We know you’ll just have a blast this July 4th in DC!