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

Fourth of July Fireworks over the National Mall - Things to Do Independence Day Weekend in Washington, DC

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

Watching the fireworks is one of the highlights of DC’s Independence Day celebrations, and there are lots of interesting sites from which to view them. You’ll find excellent vantage points from a few rooftop bars, sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, or across the river in Arlington.

And you might be wondering, what time do the Fourth of July fireworks start in Washington, DC? The fireworks in the nation's capital begin when it gets dark out, typically just after 9 p.m.

Here are some strategic sites around DC where you can get a good view.

1 Find a spot on the National Mall
Find a spot on the National Mall waynewhuang via Flickr

Anywhere on the National Mall is the best – but busiest – place to watch the fireworks. Stake out your spot with a blanket, beach chairs and a picnic basket full of food and lots of water. Then get there early for the best viewing.

2 Experience the fireworks from across the Potomac River

Fourth of July Fireworks from the Marine Corps Iwo Jima Memorial in Virginia - Where to Watch the Independence Day Fireworks

Watch from across the Potomac River at some ideal viewing areas. One of those is the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, also known as the Iwo Jima Memorial in Virginia. With the mesmerizing statue as the backdrop, the fireworks take on even greater meaning.

3 Hains Point on East Potomac Park
Hains Point on East Potomac Park Tim Evanson

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.

4 Take a family friendly fireworks cruise
Take a family friendly fireworks cruise Entertainment Cruises

There are plenty of options for family friendly fireworks cruises on one of the sightseeing boats that voyage along the Potomac River. Cruises depart from the Georgetown's Washington Harbour, from the Alexandria Riverfront and from National Harbor. Check the schedules of the Potomac Riverboat Company, Entertainment Cruises, Nina's Dandy Restaurant Cruise Ship and Embark, a private option for up to six people, to find one that suits you.

5 Several rooftop bars offer panoramic views of the fireworks

A post shared by Ari Hoffman (@focusinthedark) on

There a plenty of great rooftops in the District. POV Rooftop Lounge and Terrace at the W Hotel and the Beacon Bar & Grill in the Beacon Hotel are just a couple of restaurants and bars in Washington, DC that sell tickets to Fourth of July fireworks viewing events. Contact the restaurant for details.

6 Or come hungry, get comfy and watch from ground level
Or come hungry, get comfy and watch from ground level Tony and Joe's Seafood Place

You can also find restaurants in DC with spectacular views of the fireworks from the ground level. Sequoia and Tony & Joe’s Seafood Place on the Georgetown waterfront and Occidental Grill near the White House are all extra comfortable places to dine and view the fireworks on Independence Day.

7 Rent some wheels and watch from the Mount Vernon Trail

Fourth of July Fireworks over Lincoln Memorial - Washington, DC

Rent some wheels from Bike and Roll, Capital Bikeshare, Bikes To Borrow 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!

8 Check into a hotel overlooking the Potomac River or National Mall
Check into a hotel overlooking the Potomac River or National Mall The Hay-Adams

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.

9 Watch from the U.S. Supreme Court Plaza

@leahshoup - U.S. Supreme Court - Things to See and Do on Capitol Hill

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.

10 Head to the Washington National Cathedral

@markalanandre - View of Washington, DC from the top of 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 sky to fill with a colorful display.

11 See all of the District from Cardozo High School
See all of the District from Cardozo High School William Neuheisel

Make your way to Cardozo High School at 1200 Clifton Street NW, a block 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.

12 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.

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

Across the Potomac River near Arlington National Cemetery is the U.S. Air Force Memorial. It’s height and vista provide an ideal vantage point for views of 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 tips for enjoying the Fourth of July in Washington, DC.