What is more patriotic than celebrating America’s birthday in Washington D.C.? Every year, the nation’s capital is packed full of family activities to celebrate all day. Here are ten ways to celebrate the Fourth of July with kids of all ages in the our nation’s capital this year.

fourth of july

Aerial View of Washington D.C. Photo credit: TravelingMom

My family loves to visit Washington D.C. We are only a short train ride from the capital city. The Fourth of July is a really great time to visit. I will warn you: it is crowded, but you should visit to celebrate America’s birth at least once.

If you plan to stay the night, be sure to book a hotel as soon as you can. Many of the hotels around the National Mall (site of the fireworks) book up to one year in advance. I highly recommend the Willard Intercontinental D.C.  It’s a short walk from all of the celebrations throughout the day.  During a recent visit to the Willard, I was told that the slow season is in July; that means the rates are lower. You probably won’t find a room for this year; but you can plan ahead for next year. You can also try your luck to see if there is a last minute cancellation for next weekend. 

fourth of july

The Willard Intercontinental Washington DC photo credit: The Willard hotel

If you aren’t staying the night, I suggest parking outside the city limits and taking the Metro train to get around for the day. Parking will be at a premium and the Metro is very easy to navigate. You can plan your trip and the routes you need to take online before your visit.

Ten Ways to Celebrate the Fourth of July in D.C.

Visit the National Archives

The Declaration of Independence, which was signed exactly 240 years ago to the day, is on display at the National Archives. After seeing the document, you can meet the Founding Fathers who helped establish the birth of a nation with costumed actors in Revolutionary-era attire. This is our favorite place to visit during any visit to Washington. Arrive early in the day as it gets very crowded and you could wait in long lines outside.

Take in the parade

What is Fourth of July without a parade? Line up along Constitution Avenue with thousands of other Americans and watch the National Independence Day Parade. Expect to see everything from fife and drum corps and military servicemen and women and elaborate floats. The parade begins at 11:45 a.m. and is held on Constitution Avenue between 7th and 17th streets.

Watch the fireworks from the waterfront in Georgetown

The riverfront restaurants in the Georgetown waterfront plaza provide convenient access to a viewing spot. Make your reservations EARLY if you want to enjoy waterfront dining before the show. After dinner and fireworks, be sure to visit Georgetown Cupcakes for dessert. Get the red velvet – it is my favorite of all the flavors.

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National Park in Washington DC photo credit: Jennifer Greene Tween ‘n Teen TravelingMom

Watch a Baseball Game

Nothing is more American than baseball. The Washington Nationals are in town all Fourth of July weekend. On July 4, the Nats kick off a three-game home stand against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Join a local neighborhood celebration

Storey Park in the NoMa neighborhood blocks from Union Station kicks off its annual community celebration with a moon bounce, live bands, food trucks and street performers all day on the Fourth.

The Palisades neighborhood, just northwest of Georgetown, offers an idyllic small town celebration. Locals line up along the Whitehaven Parkway at 11 a.m. for the parade, which has been running since 1966 and concludes with a free picnic at the Palisades Rec Center. Go there for a hometown neighborhood celebration with hot dogs, watermelon, pony rides and moon bounces.

 Visit the National Zoo 

Spend the day at the zoo. The National Zoo is FREE for guests and offers programs from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Observe elephants in training, help to feed the fish, meet a great ape keeper or explore a rainforest habitat. If you want to see the baby panda, get there around 9 a.m. He is usually out then.

Visit Mt .Vernon Estate

The historical home of George Washingon is open to guests on Independence Day. You can enjoy revolutionary era music and enjoy colonial ice cream, all while watching a day time fireworks display. The views of the Potomac from our first president’s backyard are stunning and not to be missed.

Take in A Capital Fourth 

Why watch the show on PBS when you can watch live?  Grab a spot on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol for A Capitol Fourth, which begins at 8 p.m. The concert features a star-studded lineup of musicians and a performance by the National Symphony Orchestra during the grand finale of the fireworks over the National Mall. Gates open at 3 p.m. and I suggest getting there as early as possible.

Party at the National Air and Space Museum

One of the most exciting Fourth of July weekend highlights is the grand reopening of the National Air and Space Museum’s permanent exhibit, Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall, on July 1. New to the main hall exhibit are jumbo jet engines, a lunar module and a model of the Star Trek Starship Enterprise. As part of its 40th anniversary celebration, that same Friday evening, the museum will also host the free All Night at the Museum event, from 8:30 p.m. to 8 a.m. You’ll never get another chance like this to visit the museum into the wee hours of the morning. Enjoy special tours, demonstrations, giveaways, food and films on space and aviation. We are debating going to this event, as the air and space museum is one of our family favorites and we can’t wait to see the remodel.

Watch the Fireworks from the National Mall

Pack a picnic lunch and take some lawn games to enjoy the fireworks on the National Mall. The mall gets very full on July Fourth so arrive early and plan to stay all day.

Have you been to Washington D.C. for the Fourth of July? What is your favorite way to celebrate in our nation’s capital?