Independence Day is here, and with it, the rush for the best spot to watch the fireworks.
A Capitol Fourth on the National Mall is always a great time... and it's always packed. However, you can also find several other great spots from which to view it. If fighting the crowds is still not your cup of tea, check out local shows in Maryland or Virginia.
A Capitol Fourth: The festivities begin with a concert featuring Pentatonix, Joshua Bell, Jimmy Buffet, the Beach Boys, Cece Winans and more, followed by a stunning fireworks show around 9 p.m.
You can catch the fireworks from many vantage points around the National Mall, as well as as rooftop bars, the Lincoln Memorial steps or a Spirit of Washington cruise. Local parks are another option for those who want to picnic and watch fireworks.
Here are a few places to see the National Mall celebration away from the mall crowds:
- Washington National Cathedral: 3101 Wisconsin Ave. NW
- Georgetown Waterfront Park: 3303 Water St. NW
- Cardozo High School: 1200 Clifton St. NW
- Meridian Hill Park: 16th & W streets NW
- Potomac Riverboat Company Fireworks Cruise: Departs Alexandria City Marina or The Wharf
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Alexandria: This fest is actually not on the Fourth. The city will hold its Independence Day celebration July 7 to celebrate America's 242nd birthday and Alexandria's 269th birthday on the same day. The event will be held from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. along the Potomac River Waterfront at Oronoco Bay Park (100 Madison St., Alexandria). With live music, food vendors, patriotic birthday cake and a dazzling fireworks display over the waterfront at 9:30 p.m., this free event is a good way to celebrate two birthdays in one.
Colonial Williamsburg: The 9 p.m. July 4 fireworks show is free and open to the public, but if you want to make sure you have a good view on the Palace Green, you can buy premium seating at $25 per chair. Guests will also enjoy public readings of the Declaration of Independence, musical performances, hands on-activities for kids and more.
Falls Church: Festivities will be held at George Mason High School (7124 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church) on July 4, with gates opening at 6 p.m. and the rock band Turtle Recall taking the stage at 7 p.m. The fireworks show begins at 9:20 p.m., with seating available at Jack Gambill Athletic Fields and the Northern Virginia Graduate Center Parking Lot. Food trucks will be on-site, including Margaret's Soul Food, Los Wingeez and more. Visitors are encouraged to take advantage of free parking at the West Falls Church Metro station parking garage, although parking at the high school is available to event personnel and visitors with handicap placards.
Fairfax: The City of Fairfax celebrates the Fourth by hosting its annual Independence Day celebration, featuring a parade from 10 a.m. to noon, free guided tours, a superhero fest and more, followed by live music and a fireworks show at 9:30 p.m. at Fairfax High School (3501 Rebel Run, Fairfax). Pets, alcohol and smoking are prohibited at the evening show.
Herndon: An Independence Day celebration will be held at Bready Park softball field at the Herndon Community Center (814 Ferndale Ave., Herdon) on July 4. Free games and other activities begin at 6:30 p.m., with festival food available for sale. A live performance by E3 starts at 7:15 p.m., all leading up to the fireworks show at 9:30 p.m. Parking is available at Herndon Middle School, Herndon Centennial Golf Course and Herndon Community Center. Drivers should expect detours for up to an hour after the fireworks show ends, and those parked at the Herndon Community Center may not exit until given permission by the mire Marshal. Personal fireworks, glass containers and pets are not allowed. The rain date is July 5.
Leesburg: After an Independence Day parade in historic downtown Leesburg at 10 a.m., a fireworks show choreographed to patriotic music will be held at Ida Lee Park (60 Ida Lee Drive NW, Leesburg) at 9:30 p.m. on July 4 (or July 5 if it rains). Gates open at 6 p.m. and music starts at 6:30 p.m. A full food court will be onsite with funnel cakes, ice cream, burgers and more. Parking is available at the interior lots off Ida Lee Drive and the festival field parking off King Street. Pets, alcohol, glass bottles and personal fireworks are not permitted.
Mount Vernon: George Washington's historic estate will host a variety of celebrations on and leading up to Independence Day. On June 29 and June 30 from 6 p.m. to 9:45 p.m., guests are invited to enjoy a patriotic evening filled with fireworks (which start at about 9:30 p.m.), mansion tours, musical performances, old-fashioned ice cream and more. Concessions will be available from the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant. Tickets for the fireworks show plus the mansion tour are $35 for adults and $25 for children ages 6 to 11. Tickets for the fireworks show only are $30 for adults and $20 for children ages 6 to 11.
On July 4 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., guests can watch daytime fireworks over the Potomac, military reenactments, a National Concert Band Performance and more. Free birthday cake will be available while supplies last. Discounted tickets available online for the event are $18 for adults, $17 for seniors and $11 for youth. View the schedule here.
Reston: Fireworks begin at about 9:15 p.m. June 30 (or July 1 in case of rain) at Lake Fairfax Park (1400 Lake Fairfax Drive, Reston). Parking is $10 per car. The park opens at 7 a.m. with several activities leading up to the fireworks, including boat rentals available for a fee at 11 a.m., a puppet show at 1:30 p.m., live music starting at 4:15 p.m. and more. Food vendors will be set up near the park's main office, and campgrounds are available for overnight reservations. The campgrounds fill up fast, so call the Fairfax County Park Authority at 703-471-5415 to reserve a space.
Vienna: On July 4, guests can enjoy fireworks after dark (around 9:30 p.m.) at Yeonas Park (1319 Ross Drive SW, Vienna). The evening kicks off at 7 p.m. with Mars Rodeo performing rock originals and covers leading up to the show. Food and drinks will be available at the Little League concession stand. Alcohol and pets are not allowed at this event.
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Annapolis: The celebration begins with a parade, and you can opt for a fireworks cruise for a closer view. Fireworks will launch at 9:15 p.m. from the Annapolis Harbor. There are many places around the harbor available to view the show and park, with parking available at multiple locations around Annapolis. From 5 p.m. to midnight, a $1 shuttle provided by the city will transport people from the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium to Lawyers Mall.
Bowie: Celebrate Independence Day early on July 2 at the Prince George's Stadium (4101 Crain Highway, Bowie). The Bowie Baysox will be out of town, but fans will be treated to a concert at 7:30 p.m. from cover band the Fabulous Hubcaps. The fireworks show is expected to begin at about 9:15 p.m. Admission to the celebration and parking are both free.
Columbia: Howard County's Department of Recreation will host a free Fourth of July festival from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Columbia Lakefront. Fireworks will begin at dark. Bring your own picnic food or purchase food on-site from vendors. Parking is free. The rain date is July 5. Full information and a fireworks soundtrack can be accessed through the free festival app "HoCo July4th."
Gaithersburg: The city is holding its SummerFest at Bohrer Park (512 S. Frederick Ave., Gaithersburg) on June 30, featuring live music, food and kids' activities. The day starts at 5 p.m. and will be capped off with fireworks after dark and a SummerGlo after party.
Laurel: The city of Laurel will celebrate its 40th annual Independence Celebration on July 7. The event features an Independence Day Parade at 11 a.m., a car show at noon and a fireworks show starting at 9:15 p.m. at the lake.
Germantown: This Fourth of July celebration at South Germantown Recreation Park (14501 Schaeffer Road, Boyds) will offer live music starting at 7 p.m. featuring the band Quiet Fire, followed by fireworks at 9:15 p.m.
Rockville: The city's Independence Day event will be held at Mattie J.T. Stepanek Park (1800 Piccard Drive, Rockville) in King Farm. The farm has great views and plenty of parking. Live music begins at 7 p.m., followed by fireworks at 9:15 p.m.
Six Flags America: The theme park will host Independence Day festivities from June 30 through July 4. Catch the fireworks near the park's Gotham City area at 9:15 p.m. Tickets are required to watch the show inside Six Flags.
Takoma Park: A parade will begin at 10 a.m. at the intersection of Carroll and Ethan Allen avenues. Evening festivities start at 7 p.m. at Takoma Park Middle School (7611 Piney Branch Road, Silver Spring). Catch live music from Elena & Los Fulanos, a bilingual folk-rock band, and the Takoma Park Community Band. Fireworks will begin at about 9:30 p.m.