Dear PoPville – Advice for 4th of July Fun

Photo by PoPville flickr user ianseanlivingston

Dear PoPville,

I’m having friends in town during July 3 and 4 and want to show them a good time. Ideally we’d like to go to a bar, so I’m asking PoPville if the better night to do that is July 3 (as many people have off on the 4th) or on the actual holiday? And, for kicks, what are some of the best places to watch the fireworks besides the mall?

29 Comment

  • Iwo Jima if you are willing to cross the bridge.

    on the flipside, is it bad to leave town (in terms of traffic) on the 4th? i figure all the traffic will be coming into DC right?

  • Location for fireworks. That would depend on where you live. There are lots of places, and I would suggest that you fully consider the comute home after the fireworks. If you’re in the Meridian Hill area, that’s a good place from which to watch the works, but it can be busy. I actually live right across the street from there but prefer to walk down to Lafayette Square on the south side of the White House to watch them. If you live on the Hill, anywhere along the Mall but close to the Capitol would be good. In Southwest – along Maine Avenue might be good, but the sight lines might not be great.

    Try to stay away from Metro after the works though.

    As to going out – if people have commitments the next day, I’d opt for going out on the 3rd so you can sleep late on the 4th. Maybe head down to the American Folklife Festival during the day.

    Good luck.

    • Oops – I meant that Lafayette Square is on the NORTH side of the White House and we watch the works with the White House in the foreground.

  • Best location for firework watching is the corner of any hood. LOL!

  • Find any rooftop in Columbia Heights. You can see fireworks from the city and at least 5 different surrounding municipalities all going off at the same time. It is amazing.

  • Skip the mall! Every year I am blown away by the incredible fireworks displays within two or three blocks of my house – people drive to Pennsylvania and spend hundreds of dollars to put on truly professional looking shows. This does not happen in other neighborhoods in DC – one of my favorite perks of living in this neighborhood.

    • Hate to break it to you, but that happens in every neighborhood in the city. Despite newcomers’ annual pleas to ban all fireworks, every hood has its own awesome display that is way better and more fun than the mall’s dispaly.

      • the truth lies in between what you both are saying. it happens in many, but not all dc hoods.
        by my take the best views are in columbia heights and in eckington, where you can see the neighborhood fireworks, and the mall at the same time.

  • best place to watch fireworks is a friend’s roof top (or your own if you are one of the lucky ones)

  • GiantSquid

    July 3rd the Nats are play the Giants at 6-ish. There is beer and munchies there along with a baseball game.

    We watch the fireworks from the east side of the Capitol lawn.

  • Why not the mall? It’s crazy, and takes a bit of time to get home because of the crowds (which are generally very happy and friendly) but it is a unique experience to be right under giant explosions. And last time I went we just went to a bar after and drank until the metro crowds got lighter.

    • Too crowded, and you have to spend half the day sitting around if you want a decent spot. It’s something you do once just to say you did it, and that’s all.

      That’s all!

      • Not true at all NON –

        I agree with Victoria. The Mall or in clear sight of the mall is the best place in DC.

        The little neighborhood displays mixed with all the individuals is not much to brag on. Every town in America does that – where it’s legal.

        As for the MALL – You don’t need to sit there all day unless you want too! Every year, we head down about 7pm, walk right in, lay down the blanket, pop open the wine, and enjoy the show.

        Do the Mall if you have not yet.

        • +1
          We do the Mall every year. If you live U Street or south (or anywhere on Capital Hill) you can just walk.
          If you don’t have kids, it’s especially easy. Just grab a Scrabble board or some cards and catch up with your friends while you wait for the show.

        • Alcohol is prohibited on the National Mall, FYI.

        • saf

          You haven’t gone since 2011, have you? No way to get the wine in any more.

    • saf

      I used to go to the mall every year. A bunch of us would go with a couple coolers, those low beach chairs, and several card games.

      Then they locked it down. And security theater has taken away our national front law.

      So these days, we stay home and do a bbq and small fireworks here.

  • Sail boat rides from national harbor are affordable, super fun, small sized group, they have beer and wine on board and dock for fireworks and you’re super close to them. It’s not the official show but it’s professional and you’re right under them on the water. It’s awesome.

    • Right on, it’s too bad the mal-intent marina owner has sequestered the Miss Ann! Next year!

  • I’ve heard (but don’t have any first-hand experience) that Holy Rood Cemetery, on the Wisconsin Avenue hill north of Georgetown (right near the Social Safeway) is actually a good, under-the-radar spot to watch the fireworks.

    I guess if you don’t mind watching fireworks in a cemetery, that is.

    Then hit some of the Glover Park bars afterward, if that’s your thing.

  • GiantSquid

    To everyone suggesting the Mall, remember that space will be at a premium this year due to the construction. I would suggest alternative plans and do the Mall another year.

  • Lincoln Park. Nuff said.

  • On July 3, catch the dress rehearsal for the Capitol Fourth concert that is shown every year on PBS. They actually record the dress rehearsal to broadcast in the event of rain on July 4… (remember the Memorial Day storms this year??). Just head down the Capitol, usually around 7-8PM. They’ll let you bring water and a blanket or chair, but you’ll still have to pass through security. You’ll get the see the same stars and performances without the crowds. That said, you’ll also miss the fireworks. But it’s a fun evening.

  • Totally depends on where you live. I’m on the Hill, so I always go to a barbecue at someone’s house and then make my way to the Capitol around 9. You can get a good spot near the Library of Congress or in one of the parking lots. It’s pretty cool to watch them along with the music, but if I didn’t live on the Hill, I’d avoid the Mall, especially this year with all the construction. I wonder if any rooftop bars have special events going that night?

  • I just watched (again) the ghetto bootleg fireworks Youtube video. Hilarious! I swear this is in DC somewhere!

  • Great place to watch the fireworks in the field of Cardozo High. Great site lines to the Washington Monument, gets a bit crowded but is still fun to lounge out there with a beer or a bottle of wine and relax.

  • The Bishop’s Circle on St. Albans campus next to the Cathedral is a great neighborhood spot for folks in upper NW or georgetown. Lots of families and kids. Get there early to claim a spot.

    • Can you give some more details? Do they do fireworks, or is it good viewing for the mall? What exactly goes on here?

  • Does anyone know if construction at Cardozo High will preclude fireworks watching this year?

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