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

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

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. You’ll find excellent vantage points from many rooftop bars, sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, across the river in Arlington and many other places throughout the District.

In terms of planning, know that the July Fourth fireworks show in the nation's capital begins at nightfall, typically just after 9 p.m. Check out our guide to strategic sites around DC where you can get the best view.

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1 Find a spot on the National Mall

@photoartbyjjy - Fourth of July fireworks over the National Mall and Washington Monument - Where to watch fireworks in Washington, DC

Anywhere on the National Mall – from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to the plaza in front of the Jefferson Memorial – 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

@transplantedindc - Independence Day fireworks over Washington, DC from the Netherlands Carillon in Virginia - Best spots to watch July 4th fireworks near DC

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.

3 Take a family-friendly fireworks cruise

The best boating and on the water experiences in and around Washington, DC - Fourth of July fireworks over the Potomac River and National Mall

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.

4 Several rooftop bars offer panoramic views of the fireworks
Several rooftop bars offer panoramic views of the fireworks POV Rooftop Lounge and Terrace

There a plenty of great rooftops to watch the fireworks in the District. POV Rooftop Lounge and Terrace at the W Hotel and the Sky Bar at 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.

5 Or come hungry, get comfy and watch from ground level

Fourth of July Fireworks at Cafe du Parc at The Willard InterContinental - Independence Day Fireworks in Washington, DC

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.

6 Rent some wheels and watch from the Mount Vernon Trail

@killachi - Fourth of July fireworks over Lincoln Memorial and Arlington Memorial Bridge from Mount Vernon Trail - Best spots to watch Independence Day fireworks in and near Washington, DC

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.

7 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.

8 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.

9 Check out Hains Point on East Potomac Park
Check out 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.

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 the 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 Watch the fireworks from a paddleboard on the river

Things to do this summer on the Anacostia River in Washington, DC - Outdoor recreation on standup paddleboard and pedalboards

You heard that right. This unique way to watch the fireworks is brought to you by Capital SUP DC, located on the Anacostia River at the always-buzzing Capitol Riverfront. Choose from the classic standup paddleboard, as well as kayaks and pedalboards, before launching into the river and taking in the rocket's red glare from the Washington Channel and in front of Fort McNair.

13 You'll find unobstructed views at Lady Bird Johnson Park

@nicholasjboyle - View of Fourth of July fireworks from Lady Bird Johnson Memorial Park in Virginia - Guide to July 4th fireworks in and around Washington, DC

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.

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

Fourth of July Fireworks from the U.S. Air Force Memorial - Where to Watch Independence Day Fireworks Near Washington, DC

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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