FAQ: What you need to know about celebrating July Fourth on the National Mall

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 04: Spectators wait for the start of the Independence Day firework show at the Lincoln Memorial on July 4, 2022 in Washington, DC. Crowds lined the National Mall to watch the capitals annual fireworks show celebrating the Fourth of July. (Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)(Getty Images/Nathan Howard)

Each year, thousands gather around the National Mall to celebrate Independence Day in the District. Here’s what you need to know if you’re hoping to head to the nation’s capital this Fourth of July.

Outside of the massive firework display, some of the July Fourth festivities in D.C. include the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, A Capitol Fourth and the annual parade.

  • Q: How can I reach areas to watch the fireworks show?
  • A map of the security checkpoints on the National Mall. (Courtesy National Park Service)

    Here are the areas where the public can get onto the National Mall from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.:

    • West side of Arlington Memorial Bridge
    • Constitution Avenue NW at Henry Bacon Drive NW
    • Constitution Avenue NW and 17th Street NW
    • 15th Street NW at Madison Drive NW
    • 14th Street SW at Jefferson Drive SW
    • Maine Avenue SW and Raoul Wallenberg Place SW (15th Street SW)

    You should plan on being screened at those access points. There won’t be access to the National Mall from East Basin Drive just south of the Jefferson Memorial.

    If you want to avoid the crowds at the National Mall, fireworks can be seen from some spots along the George Washington Memorial Parkway.

    Here’s where you can watch the show from the parkway (but you can’t get to the National Mall from these spots):

    • U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial and Netherlands Carillon
    • Columbia Island/Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Grove (Access to the Potomac Riverfront is possible via the bike/pedestrian tunnel that runs underneath the Boundary Channel Bridge (a.k.a. the “Humpback Bridge”)
    • Gravelly Point, north of Reagan National Airport
    • Washington Sailing Marina/Indigo Landing Restaurant at Daingerfield Island

    You can’t park or pull off into the grassy areas adjacent to the highway to watch.

  • Q: What are my public transit options?
  • The National Park Service has encouraged visitors to take public transportation.

    Metrorail and Metrobus will be fare-free for the evening on Independence Day, from 5 p.m. through closing time. More trains will serve the system all evening to accommodate people heading to and from the Mall. Parking will be free all day at Metro’s parking facilities.

    Be aware that the Smithsonian/National Mall and Federal Triangle Metro stations tend to be the busiest.

    Other options within walking distance of the show (that may be less hectic) are the L’Enfant Plaza, Metro Center, and Archives/Navy Memorial stations.

    Something to note: You can’t watch the show from the area near the Smithsonian station because of turf restoration.

    Here’s the latest on Metro service.

  • Q: What should I leave at home?
  • Be ready to crack open that cooler and unzip your backpack. You will be screened for banned items before getting onto the National Mall.

    No cookouts on the mall — grills, alcohol and glass containers aren’t allowed. Not that you’d need them at one of the biggest firework shows in the U.S., but your own personal fireworks aren’t allowed either.

    The National Park Service “strongly recommends that pets be left at home.”

    Tents that will block others’ view or that require stakes aren’t allowed on the National Mall or the GW Parkway. In a similar vain of looking out for your fellow viewers, activities like volleyball and badminton aren’t allowed due to space constraints.

    Other items to leave behind include:

    • Alcohol
    • Ammunition
    • Balloons
    • Bladed, edged or sharp tools or implements
    • Coolers/thermal containers larger than 36 quarts (23″ by 15″ by 15″)
    • Club-like items and striking devices, including selfie sticks and golf umbrellas (small folding umbrellas are permitted).
    • Destructive devices, explosives or combustible chemical compounds and mixtures
    • Disabling chemicals, including mace and pepper spray
    • Firearms and projectile weapons
    • Glass bottles or containers
    • Laser pointers
    • Packages, including wrapped packages, parcels, containers, or bundles where the inside cannot be visually inspected, including gift wrapped or plain paper wrapped packages
    • Structures, including props and displays, such as coffins, crates, crosses, theaters, cages and statues; furniture and furnishings, such as desks, chairs, tables, bookcases, cabinets, platforms, podiums and lecterns; shelters, such as tents, boxes and other enclosures; and wagons and cars. Wheelchairs in active use by disabled persons, strollers and bicycles are permitted.
    • Supports for signs (cannot exceed four (4) feet in length, one-quarter (1/4) inch in thickness, with no sharp points and may not be made of wood, steel or metal.
    • Unmanned aerial systems (drones)
    • Weapons of any kind
    • Any other items determined to be a potential safety hazard
  • Q: What roads are closed?
  • These roads close to vehicles on July 4 at 6 a.m. and reopen at 10 p.m., according to the National Park Service.

    • Arlington Memorial Bridge and Arlington Memorial Circle on the Virginia end, to and including Lincoln Memorial Circle in the District
    • Rock Creek Parkway south of Virginia Avenue NW to Lincoln Memorial Circle, including all approaches and ramps
    • Parkway Drive from Rock Creek Parkway to Lincoln Memorial Circle
    • Henry Bacon Drive NW
    • Daniel Chester French Drive SW
    • Lincoln Memorial Circle and all approaches and ramps into and out of Lincoln Memorial Circle, including Henry Bacon Drive N, Daniel Chester French Drive SW, 23rd Street NW and 23rd Street SW
    • Ramp from Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge to Constitution Avenue NW and Independence Avenue SW and Ohio Drive SW; all inbound traffic from the bridge will be directed to the E Street Expressway
    • Constitution Avenue NW from 23rd Street NW to 14th Street NW
    • 7th Street NW from Constitution Avenue NW to Independence Avenue SW
    • 4th Street NW from Constitution Avenue NW to Independence Avenue SW
    • 15th Street NW from E Street NW south to Raoul Wallenberg Place SW
    • 17th Street, NW from E Street NW south to Independence Avenue SW
    • 18th Street NW between Constitution Avenue NW and Virginia Avenue NW
    • 19th Street NW from Constitution Avenue NW to C Street NW
    • 20th Street NW from Constitution Avenue NW to C Street NW
    • 21st Street NW from Constitution Avenue NW to C Street NW
    • 22nd Street NW from Constitution Avenue NW to C Street NW
    • Virginia Avenue NW from Constitution Avenue NW to 18th Street NW
    • C Street NW from 17th Street NW to 18th Streets NW
    • D Street NW from 17th Street NW to 18th Street NW
    • Raoul Wallenberg Place SW to Maine Avenue SW
    • Independence Avenue SW from 14th Street SW to 23rd Street SW, including merge with Rock Creek Parkway
    • Madison Drive NW from 15th Street NW to 3rd Street NW
    • Jefferson Drive SW from 15th Street SW to 3rd Street SW
    • Ohio Drive, SW from the Inlet Bridge to Independence Avenue, SW
    • West Basin Drive SW from Ohio Drive SW to Independence Avenue, SW
    • East Basin Drive SW east of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial to Ohio Drive SW
    • Ramp from southbound and northbound George Washington Memorial Parkway (GWMP) to Memorial Avenue /Circle
    • Ramp from northbound Va. Route 110 to Memorial Avenue/Circle
    • Ramp from Va. Route 27 to Memorial Avenue/Circle
    • The right lane of northbound George Washington Memorial Parkway from the 14th Street Bridge to Theodore Roosevelt Island.

    These roads close at 11 a.m. and reopen at 10 p.m.

    • 3rd Street from Pennsylvania Avenue NW to Maryland Avenue SW
    • Constitution Avenue NW from Pennsylvania Avenue NW to 14th Street NW
    • 14th Street NW from Pennsylvania Avenue NW to Independence Avenue SW

    But wait, there’s more. These roads are closed from 3 p.m. to midnight.

    • Eastbound U.S. Route 50 ramps to GWMP and roads in the immediate area of U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial
    • Southbound GWMP ramp to 14th Street Bridge (9 p.m. – 9:45 p.m. as necessary)
    • Northbound GWMP ramp to 14th Street Bridge (9 p.m. – 9:45 p.m. as necessary)

    Maps of the road closures are available on the park service’s website.

  • Q: How do the Fourth of July celebrations impact surrounding monuments and attractions?
  • Outside of the roadways, some local attractions are closed to accommodate celebrations.

    The National Mall is closed between 14th Street and the Lincoln Memorial from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. Anyone who comes in after 11 a.m. will be screened by security, according to the National Park Service.

    The World War II Memorial closes early at 4 p.m. It will reopen sometime after the firework show is cleaned up.

    The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is open, but the public won’t be able to access it from Independence Avenue after 8 p.m. Other access points will stay open.

    The Washington Monument will close on July 3 at noon and won’t reopen until after the holiday, July 5 at 9 a.m.

    Paddle Boats at the Tidal Basin, Big Bus Tours, Water taxi service to the National Mall and the D.C. Circulator’s National Mall route won’t operate.

Jessica Kronzer

Jessica Kronzer graduated from James Madison University in May 2021 after studying media and politics. She enjoys covering politics, advocacy and compelling human-interest stories.

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