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John Sonderman

Best spots to watch the Fourth of July fireworks in Washington, DC - Fireworks over the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument

15 Great Spots to Watch the Fourth of July Fireworks in Washington, DC

Nothing beats seeing the Independence Day fireworks against the DC skyline of monuments and memorials.

Watching the fireworks is one of the highlights of DC’s Fourth of July celebrations, and there plenty of interesting sites from which to view them. However, 2020 presents a different set of circumstances due to COVID-19. DC is currently in Phase Two of reopening. You can watch and listen to DC Mayor Muriel Bowers' remarks on the Fourth of July. 

Although there will be no Independence Day parade in DC this year, a fireworks display over the National Mall is still planned - exact start time, launch locations and attendance details are still to be determined. While the free A Capitol Fourth concert will not take place live from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol, there will still be a broadcast of pre-recorded performances hosted by Vanessa Williams and John Stamos, as well as a live showcase of the fireworks display. The 2020 Salute to America will still be held on the South Lawn of the White House and Ellipse on July 4 and will feature music, military demonstrations, flyovers and remarks. The National Archives' annual celebration will be entirely virtual, with the event streamed on the Archives' Facebook page and YouTube channel. Educational programming will be available throughout the day.

In addition, Metro has also announced plans for extended service at select stations on July 4. Read the organization's press release for more details. 

Your ultimate guide to summer in Washington, DC

[This list was last updated June 24, 2019] 


Find a spot on the National Mall

The National Mall is the best (and busiest) place to watch the fireworks. Stake out your spot anywhere from the Washington Monument to the plaza in front of the Jefferson Memorial and in between, bring a blanket, water and food and enjoy! New viewing spots on the Mall this year include the World War II Memorial, Reflecting Pool and Constitution Gardens. Note that two other Independence Day events will also be taking place on the National Mall on the Fourth of July, including A Capitol Fourth, the free concert on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol, and the Salute to America at the Lincoln Memorial. Give yourself plenty of time to find a spot and familiarize yourself with public access entry points, road closures, prohibited items and other tips from the National Park Service.


Experience the fireworks from across the Potomac River

Watch from across the Potomac River at some ideal viewing areas. Check out the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, also known as the Iwo Jima Memorial, and the nearby Netherlands Carillon in Virginia. With the mesmerizing Marine Corps War Memorial statue as the backdrop, the fireworks take on even greater meaning.


Take a family-friendly fireworks cruise

There are plenty of options for family-friendly fireworks cruises on one of the sightseeing boats that voyage along the Potomac River. Check the schedules of the Potomac Riverboat Company, Entertainment CruisesEmbark and even more waterfront tour operators to find one that suits you.


Several rooftop bars offer panoramic views of the fireworks

There a plenty of great rooftops to watch the fireworks in the District. POV Rooftop Lounge and Terrace at the W Hotel, the Sky Bar at the Beacon Hotel and the Conrad Hotel's Summit are just a few of the restaurants and bars in Washington, DC that are hosting Fourth of July fireworks viewing events. Make sure to check with the restaurants for details and ticket information.


Or come hungry, get comfy and watch from ground level

You can also find restaurants in DC with spectacular views of the fireworks from the ground level. SequoiaNick's Riverside Grill and Tony & Joe’s Seafood Place on the Georgetown waterfront or Café du Parc in Downtown are all extra comfortable places to dine and view the fireworks on Independence Day.


Rent some wheels and watch from the Mount Vernon Trail

Rent some wheels from Bike and Roll, Capital Bikeshare or at the Columbia Island Marina on the Virginia side of the Potomac River, near the Pentagon. Then ride up the Mount Vernon Trail to find a spot to stop and enjoy the fireworks show. Yes, this amazing view is from the trail.


Check into a hotel overlooking the Potomac River or National Mall

For a luxurious place to experience the DC fireworks, check into The Hay-Adams, with a penthouse space that offers panoramic views of the White House and National Mall. Many of the JW Marriott’s guest rooms also face the Mall, as well as the Mandarin Oriental Washington, D.C. on the Southwest Waterfront.


Watch from the U.S. Supreme Court Plaza

The majestic U.S. Supreme Court building on Capitol Hill has a 252-foot wide oval plaza that is spacious and open with unobstructed views of the fireworks bursting in air. Get there early to claim a seat, and then settle in and enjoy the show.


Check out Hains Point on East Potomac Park

Hains Point on East Potomac Park is a serene stretch of public land on a peninsula that stretches into the Potomac River. The park provides great views of the Potomac and Anacostia rivers, as well as the Washington Channel, and there are key spots with picnic tables and benches providing an ideal sightline to watch the fireworks.


Book a room at The LINE and have a blast on its rooftop

The LINE DC is offering a special room package for Independence Day that grants you access to its Vela Rooftop along with two celebratory drinks and valet parking. You will have the chance to take in panoramic views of the city and DC’s epic fireworks display. The “City View 4th” package is valid for a one-night stay on July 4, with a special rate for nights surrounding the 4th automatically applied. Early arrival for rooftop access is recommended.


Head to the Washington National Cathedral

Find a spot on the grassy slope of the Washington National Cathedral in Upper Northwest. Because this is one of the highest points in the DC area (the top of the tower is the highest), it’s a good place to picnic and wait for the sky to fill with a colorful display.


See all of the District from Cardozo High School

Make your way to Cardozo High School at 1200 Clifton Street NW, a couple blocks removed from the busy U Street neighborhood. This off-the-beaten path fireworks viewing location provides some of the most expansive views of DC's Fourth of July fireworks.


You'll find unobstructed views at Lady Bird Johnson Park

Enter this park on an island in the Potomac River from the southbound lanes of the George Washington Memorial Parkway to witness an astonishing, unobstructed view of the fireworks.


Set up shop for a day at The Wharf

Conveniently located only four blocks from the National Mall, make your way down to The Wharf for a full day of Fourth of July festivities. With a number of public piers and green spaces, as well as rooftop spaces at the Intercontinental and Canopy hotels, this go-to destination for dining and entertainment also provides great vantage points to view the District's fireworks.


The U.S. Air Force Memorial provides a great vantage point

Across the Potomac River, near Arlington National Cemetery, sits the U.S. Air Force Memorial. Its height provides an ideal vista for fireworks over the nation’s capital.


Don’t forget to bring your camera when you catch the fireworks – you’ll want to remember this experience forever. Now that you know what to do during the evening, here are some great ideas for ways to celebrate the Fourth of July in Washington, DC.

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