Frequently asked questions: Fourth of July in DC

Your guide to spending the Fourth of July in the nation’s capital.

Where and when do the national fireworks take place?

The fireworks celebration on the National Mall is organized by the National Park Service. The fireworks are launched from the Reflecting Pool area, and are visible from many locations throughout D.C. and Virginia. Fireworks begin at 9:09 p.m. ET on July 4 and last approximately 17 minutes.  

Are there activities going on throughout the day?

Watching the fireworks is only one activity on the Fourth. There are plenty of events, activities, parades and concerts happening throughout town. See our list of events for more information.

What’s the best way to get downtown?

The best way to get downtown for all Fourth of July activities is by Metro. Smithsonian is the closest Metro stop to the location of the fireworks on the National Mall, but due to overcrowding concerns, officials are asking visitors to use the other nearby Metro stops (Federal Triangle, Foggy Bottom, L’Enfant Plaza, Archives/Navy Memorial or Metro Center), which are all in walking distance of the Mall.

To accommodate the several hundred thousand passengers expended to take Metrorail on July 4, Metrorail service will operate from 7 a.m. until midnight, with near rush-hour service levels before and after the fireworks. Visit WMATA’s website for information on times and tickets.

Taxi cabs and bike rentals are other great ways to get around town.

Can you park downtown?

If you prefer to drive, plan accordingly. There will be extensive road closures throughout the day on July 4. (See a full list on the National Park Service’s website.) Metered parking is waved on holidays, and some paid parking garages will be open. Visit BestParking.com to find garages and compare rates. 

Where’s the best place to stay?

There are a number of hotels within walking distance of the fireworks, and great options within a few Metro stops away. About.com compiled a list of some of the closest hotels. You can also check out apartment and home options on rental sites such as Airbnb and HomeAway.

What should I pack?

There is very little shelter on the National Mall, so be sure to come prepared for a hot summer day with sunscreen, protective clothing, water and an umbrella. For a list of prohibited items, see the National Park Service’s website.

Are there places to eat?

Food options are pretty limited on the National Mall, itself, but some of the city’s best restaurants and eateries are just a few blocks away. Use the map as your guide for getting some grub:

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