Friday Question of the Day – What Will You Do on the 4th of July? What Advice Do You have for Others?

Photo by PoPville flickr user Rukasu1

“Dear PoPville,

I’m wondering if those who have had visitors in town over the 4th could help with suggestions for fun things to do? There will be three kids and two adults with us. We’re planning to hit the museums and monuments, and we’d love to see the fireworks but not get caught in the mayhem. Any suggestions from PoPville?”

And for those watching fireworks (either neighborhood ones or the official ones) where will you watch them from?

55 Comment

  • Options:
    1. Love it and embrace
    2. Hide
    3. Run

    I’ll take option 2 please.

    • We have taken option 1 for our first 5 years in NE. Our neighbors live on a hill with a view of the Mall fireworks and the non-stop, hours long impressive fireworks displays launched from street corners all over the neighborhood. But last year we decided we had enough of the noise and the heat and this year we taking option 3 and then 2 and renting a cabin near the Shenandoah National Park.

      Try not to burn my house down while I’m gone, people of NE!

  • We are finally doing what I have longed to do! Escaping to Quebec for an unpatriotic week’s vacation away from the sweaty Lee Greenwood-loving hordes.

  • If you must …. The best place I’ve found for the fireworks – if you really insist on going down to the mall – is to sit on the lawn to the north of the Lincoln. That way you’re facing the Washington and get a great overhead view of the fireworks,, but are in an area away from the big crowds. In the past, we’ve had plentyy of space to sprrad out here. We’ve walked over twice now after drinks in Georgetown (we go to Gerogetown approx once a year to gawk at “daddy’s money” and there’s no better day for this than the Fourth of July). Depending on how old the kids are, this is either a nice walk along to Potomac, or way too far for them and you’ll be annoyed with my suggestion, track me down and torture me by making me watch videos of children throwing temper tantrums. After the fireworks, head to the foggy bottom metro, if you dare. It’s never been too horrible when we’ve done that. But, I deal with metro every day and I believe that somewhat eschews any opinion or judgement I have of “horrible” since every day on metro could be someone’s own definition of the word.

  • Find a friend with a roofdeck or even just access to their roof.

  • You can head to the 4th of July party at the Old Soldiers Home – huge green space, great view, and good, clean, intergenerational fun.

    • +1.

      Went to the OSH the family last year and really enjoyed it – frisbee, food trucks, red wine and blankets. Mellow yet festive vibe and a good view of the fireworks.

    • +1 I went last year and it was fantastic. It’s very kid-friendly – I believe they are doing the catch and release fishing again this year – lots of space. Plus, it’s like one of the only times during the year this park is open. I highly recommend it.

    • +1 I’m just worried more and more people will learn about this neighborhood find! Went last year and after 11 years of fleeing the District on the 4th, it finally felt like home celebrating there.

  • Watching the mall fireworks from the national cathedral is nice. Otherwise, leave town.

  • Stay home and drink

  • I recommend complaining about the noise of fireworks going off for the next 3 months.

  • We’re escaping to Cleveland Park! It’s awesome during the holidays because the locals head out of town, and most tourists don’t venture past the zoo.

  • I was in South Carolina earlier this week and I could have picked up some awesome fireworks (South of the Border rocks!). But I live in Maryland, and I think even sparklers are illegal here, so I wouldn’t have anywhere to set them off. I don’t have any plans except sleeping late and being lazy.

  • Cardoza High School is still under massive construction so that’s a no go for one of the best viewing areas.
    Also, good luck finding a place to eat/drink after the fireworks. Most places have either closed by then or are crazy packed. If you have youngins, head to the Zoo. It’ll be packed to the gills, but a fun way to spend the day.

  • Bunch of old cranks here. Fireworks on the Mall can be fun, if you’re in the mood, especially if you’ve got kids. They key is to plan your escape. Choose your space with the closest metro in mind, stay a little further towards the edge than you otherwise might, and be ready to go the instant the fireworks end. You’ll be halfway home while most people are still repacking their coolers.

    Malcom X Park and 18th Street in Adams-Morgan are both pretty decent, and Adams-Morgan on July 4th is bot a bad place to grab a beer or a snack. You have about an hour after the fireworks end before it become unbearable.

    • Also, sometimes it’s worth walking to the NEXT metro station even if it’s further from your destination. Get a seat, ride to the station you would have gotten on at if you’d waited in the crowds to get down to the platform, and watch people try to fit into the car that you’re sitting in.

  • justinbc

    Big BBQ with friends during the day, then head to my office, which has a rooftop 14 stories up and a clear, unobstructed view of the mall and monuments, to watch the fireworks.

    If you’re one of those people who has to “come in” to the city to watch, I suggest waiting for an hour or so after they’re done to head back out. Bring a few extra beers in the cooler and just hang out on the mall or something. Taking the metro home several years ago immediately after the fireworks was one of the single most unpleasant experiences I’ve had while in DC. I can imagine it’s similarly bad if you have to drive as well, except you at least have functioning AC.

    • Ditto, I’m doing exactly the same thing. BBQ, then head to my office’s roof terrace at 20th & Constitution. Best view in the city, IMO!

    • In past years, they have had the Mall cordoned off, doing security checks of every bag and cooler brought in. And no beer allowed.

    • I have done the rooftop view in years past, and definitely spectacular way to enjoy the evening and the fireworks show.

  • I live near H St but was told I probably couldn’t see fireworks from my backyard. We were thinking about biking to the north side of the Capitol and watching from there. Anyone ever done that before with success? Is it super crowded there as well?

    • You have to be careful with the north and east fronts of the Capitol because there is the NSO concert there to accompany the fireworks. You can kinda hear the music which is nice, but there are gigantic floodlights you need to look through to see the fireworks.

    • I live on H Street as well, in the Senate Square building, and I doubt you would see anything as the fireworks appear pretty far off in the distance even from our 13th Floor roofdeck. You might hear them pop, however! πŸ™‚

  • Malcom X park also know as Meridian Hill Park on every map, is TERRIBLE for viewing fireworks. The trees in the park obscure the view of the fireworks. You will most certainly have to lift the kids up onto your shoulders. The Mall, Long Bridge in Pentagon City, or the Air Force Memorial are all excellent places to view the fireworks. I would avoid having to metro entirely because the cars become sardine cans no matter how quickly you escape from the hordes. Pick a place that will be good for the kids, let ’em stay up an hour later, let them bring their Nintendo DS and relax while everyone else dukes it out.

    • i went to meridian hill park last year, did not stand behind a tree because that’s an option, and saw the fireworks perfectly. going there again this year because it was so good last year.

    • That’s my neighborhood, and it’s a nice option for people who live nearby. The main terrace is a popular spot.

  • Allison

    As I live in Southwest I’m going to watch them from the waterfront.

    • Allison

      Btw if you look at the Washington monument in google maps on satellite view it’s pretty cool because you can see its giant shadow.

    • Thanks for the tip! I live in SW too and have been wondering if you can see the fireworks from there. Any tips on exactly where is best?

      • Allison

        I don’t know where’s best, I actually haven’t gone down there before, but I do see my neighbors having parties and all heading down there around firework time, so I know there must be something down there worth seeing!

  • We’re getting outta dodge! Heading to Annapolis for the night to see if they do any fireworks over the water. But mainly we’ll be at Red Red Wine Bar and staying in a fancy hotel πŸ™‚

    • I went to Annapolis last year (kind of by accident, actually) for the 4th and had an AMAZING time. Try to get there early because parking is a pain – really no worse than DC, but still time consuming. The fireworks are beautiful over the water in the harbor.

    • Annapolis does a great fireworks display above Spa Creek near downtown. If you can get a spot on the draw bridge it’s a good vantage point, but it’s a lot easier to find space in the waterfront area. I don’t know if that part of the Naval Academy is open to the public, but if it is that would be the best place to watch from.

  • I did the Mall once and was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was, as long as you keep the right attitude. We didn’t establish much of an agenda and were able to enjoy the experience. Went into some of the museums when it got too hot, did the Folklife Festival, etc. We camped out near 3rd street where we could also hear the concert at the Capitol, and then, after the fireworks were over, we booked it up to Judiciary Square and got a seat on a train. I would guess most people get on at Metro Center, transferring from Smithsonian or Federal Triangle. Expect the crowds, and it won’t be as unbearable as you might imagine.

  • pablo .raw

    I’ve heard that the monument is going to be illuminated this year, so I’ll probably go out and take photos of the fireworks. I’m thinking Mount Vernon trail.
    Rave: my office is closed on July 5th πŸ˜€

  • I always watch the fireworks from the west side of the Washington Monument, facing the Lincoln. It’s ‘decently’ crowded but never unbearably so, lots of families and kids, grass, and an AWESOME view! After the show we just stay put on our blanket while everyone else rushes towards the metro – wait maybe 20 to 30 minutes before heading out. As long as you’re relaxed about it, the Mall is actually really fun.

    My theory is that I won’t be in DC forever, so as long as I’m here (and with no children) I may as well enjoy the chaos.

  • Head to the Old Soldier and Airman’s Home!!!
    It is my favorite thing to do in DC for the fourth of July and it is totally hassle free!
    You can bring your own food and drinks or buy them from the various food trucks. There is live music and a great view of the fireworks. The whole event is very family friendly and there is little traffic getting in or out of the park.
    Enjoy the neighborhood local DC fourth of July scene!

  • I’m so happy that my brother is coming to town with his kids this year. I usually skip the fireworks because my husband has terrible PTSD and spends the day in bed with his head under his pillows (and then spends a week recovering). But this year, I’ll have the excuse of taking the family down to the Mall and playing tourist. πŸ™‚


  • Leave DC

  • We are taking our kayaks out on the Potomac to watch the fireworks! Excited! We have some friends who are renting from Key Bridge (formerly Jack’s) Boathouse and we’ll drop in there. I am wondering how traffic will be heading to Georgetown from Capitol Hill and also how parking will be. Just planning on being relaxed about the whole thing and leaving plenty of time.

  • If your have pets and they have not yet experienced the fireworks, please be aware that the sound can travel right up from the mall and be almost as loud as being there. It took a couple of years before one of my cats got used to it, and I have a new one this year so I will be at home sitting with them.

  • I’m going to be spending the 4th in New Orleans. I’ll be swapping houses with my cousins. They’re coming to D.C. while I’m going to their hometown.

  • I moved to a place in SW two years ago and have had the AWESOME luxury of watching this from my balcony! If they are doing a pyrotechnics show on the Monument I’ll miss it (I can see the Monument in winter when a tree next door doesn’t have leaves) but there’s nothing better than being able to jump inside for another glass of wine during the show!

  • If you’re meeting people at the Mall, have a plan in place beforehand. You know, the kind of plan you would have had before cell phones, with an exact location and a backup plan if that isn’t possible for some reason. Every year that I’ve gone the cell towers have been so overloaded I haven’t been able to get calls or text messages in or out.

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