If you think you can just waltz onto the National Mall any time on July 4 and get the best spot to watch "A Capitol Fourth" concert and the firework spectacular that follows... well, congrats on your optimism.
Either way, if you're preparing to brave the crowds Thursday, here's a handy guide on what to expect:
Anyone trying to get near the National Mall or any of the memorials will be required to go through security screening. Bags of any kind, including coolers, backpacks and packages, will be subject to inspection. Possession of alcoholic beverages and using personal fireworks are forbidden.
Entrances for National Mall and Memorial Parks:
Checkpoints for "A Capitol Fourth":
Metrorail will run from 7 a.m. to midnight on July 4, with expected rush hour-esque traffic from 6 p.m. to midnight. Trains will operate on a Saturday schedule for most of the day, ramping up to rush-hour service levels before and after the fireworks display.
All Metro station parking lots will be free for the day. Bicycles and coolers are not permitted on the Metro to save space on the trains.
Metro is advising travelers to avoid transfers if at all possible. The Smithsonian station will be "entry only" after the fireworks, so Metro also recommends avoiding that station as well as the Federal Triangle station due to crowding.
Here is Metro's list of suggested stations for the Fourth:
Metrobus will run on a Saturday schedule. Expect delays on any routes near the National Mall due to the large number of street closures.
Metro reminds you that NextBus might not be the most reliable source of bus arrival time information. Basically, do not expect to get anywhere quickly using Metrobus on July 4.
There will be a bike corral at 10th Street and Constitution Avenue NW provided by Capital Bikeshare. The corral will be available from 12 p.m. until an hour after the fireworks on the National Mall end.
To stay up to date on National Mall event information from the U.S. Park Police, text JULY4DC to 888777 to sign up for alerts from their July 4 emergency notification system.
Road Closures (All Times Approximate)
Driving in D.C. on the Fourth is going to be relatively impossible due to the parade route and road closures.
Streets closed from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.:
Streets closed from 11:30 a.m. to 11 pm
Streets closed from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. (for parade):
Reminder: Vehicles are not allowed on or around the Mall.
In addition, DDOT will lift D.C.’s reversible lane restrictions on Thursday. It will also open previously closed lanes from Wednesday at noon though Monday, July 8 at 9:30 a.m.