July makes its mark in our calendars with many hours of sunshine, open swimming pools, barbecues and festivals. You may also associate the month with ice cream, time off from school or work, fireworks and songs like “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Yes, July 4th — Independence Day — grabs the most attention midsummer, so take a few liberties of your own and make plans to celebrate this treasured national holiday in one of America’s most cherished places: its national parks.
Celebrate the Fourth of July in the Nation’s Capital
National Mall and Memorial Parks, Washington, D.C.
- Drive 4 miles north from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
What better place to celebrate America’s birthday than in its capital? Beginning around noon, vacationers can catch the city’s annual Independence Day Parade along Constitution Avenue, on the north side of the National Mall. After watching the procession, you’ll be in a prime location to explore the National Mall and Memorial Parks.
From the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial and around the Tidal Basin, stroll past iconic monuments paying tribute to the nation's founders, presidents, veterans and civil rights activists. Stop at the National Archives across the street to see the document that put everything in motion: the Declaration of Independence. At the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, view the impressive flag (it’s one-fourth the size of a basketball court) that flew over Fort McHenry during the War of 1812’s Battle of Baltimore and inspired Francis Scott Key to pen what is now the U.S. national anthem.
As the celebrations continue and crowds grow, stake out your spot on the National Mall’s lawn for A Capitol Fourth. The event’s gates open at 3 p.m. for the evening concert performed by top musicians and the National Symphony Orchestra, and it concludes with a bang. Grab a seat and get ready to watch sparks fly, literally, over the capital as fireworks launch from the Lincoln Memorial’s reflecting pool.