Washington, D.C.’s fireworks are one of the country’s best, but boy, do they get crowded. These insider spots from in-the-know locals are some of our favorite alternatives for watching the show.
Washington, D.C., is known for its spectacular Independence Day fireworks display and parade (it is the nation’s capital). Americans and visitors flock to the city for the long weekend, and the National Mall fills up early on the Fourth with revelers staking out good spots for the light display. Though watching them from the Mall is an experience worth having, it’s also an experience worth having maybe just the once. After all, camping out for hours in the heat as the space around you gets more and more crowded—and then having to wait in line to board the Metro home or find taxis after the show—isn’t for everyone. But those in the know frequent tons of other places to watch the fireworks in DC. Here are our favorite insider options.
East Potomac Park (Hains Point)
Just south of the National Mall, East Potomac Park—also known as Hains Point—is a peninsula that forms one edge of the Tidal Basin. That puts it in easy walking distance from the Washington Monument, the typical epicenter of the July Fourth fireworks madness. But the seclusion created by the peninsula ensures a calmer evening.
Gravelly Point Park
Across the Potomac River in Arlington lies Gravelly Point Park, the go-to spot for watching airplanes take off and land at Reagan National Airport. With its prime river location—directly across from East Potomac Park—Gravelly Point is a favorite local spot for watching the fireworks. And further up the George Washington Memorial Parkway, there’s also a great vantage point in the Lady Bird Johnson Park—or really anywhere there along the riverside.
Jack Rose Dining Saloon
With three rooftop bars and a great sightline to the Fourth of July fireworks, Jack Rose is a perfect spot for celebrating this year. Not only do they have a famously enormous whiskey selection, but they’re also hosting a two-day event called AmeriCAN DrinkDependence Weekend on July 4 through 5, offering $4 Flying Dog beers and half price snacks from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
On a boat
Since most revelers will be watching the fireworks from the banks of the Potomac River, it makes sense that another prime viewing location would be on the river itself. Spirit Cruises offers a dinner cruise aboard its Spirit of Mount Vernon and the Spirit of Washington ships, with a DJ, open bar, and buffet-style dinner for $$170. Or take out your own double kayak from the Key Bridge Boathouse and feast on hot dogs while watching the fireworks from the water for $190 with Boating in DC.
U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial
Just across the river in Arlington, the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial is ideal for a panoramic view of the fireworks, the monuments and the memorials on the National Mall. Not to mention the sight of the iconic statue of Marines raising a flag over Iwo Jima. That’s why Destination DC says that the Iwo Jima memorial “is favored on the Fourth by the in-the-know set as well as savvy photographers.”
It already has one of the best rooftops in the city, but 1905 makes an even more compelling case for celebrating the Fourth of July with them by inviting the crew at Atlas Brew Works over for a grilling party. Sample beers from the District’s own brewery for $5 while feasting on the likes of sausages, pulled pork, potato salad, and smoked broccoli with cheddar and pimentos. Cover is $20 and comes with three tickets to use on food and drink.