1. Early fireworks. The 4th of July is next week. Kick off celebrations with some early fireworks at a Nationals game (Fri, $16+, Navy Yard), on an Independence Eve Margarita Cruise (Sun, $32, Georgetown), or at the Bladensburg Fireworks Show (Fri, free, Bladensburg).
2. Food, lots of food. Try all the berries of summer at the Berry 4th Tacular Festival (Sat, free, Silver Spring), create a masterpiece at a cookie-decorating class (Sat, $90, Fairfax), bring a picnic to Stars, Snacks and Stripes (Sat, $10+, Georgetown), enjoy Casta’s Rum Bar all-day brunch (Sun, West End), or head to The Biggest Cookout Ever (Sun, $40+, Columbia).
3. Join a bar crawl. 4th of July bar and pub crawls are happening all across the city including the Red White and Brew Pub Crawl (Sat, $12.99, Penn Quarter), the Drink For America Bar Crawl (Sat, $15+, Dupont Circle), the Independence Day Crawl (Sat, $8+, Dupont Circle), and the Made in America Bar Crawl (Sat, $9+, Dupont Circle). You can also compete in a 4th of July flip cup tournament (Sat, $3.50+, Park View) or complete a boozy scavenger hunt at the Heritage Beer Hunt (Thurs-Mon, $58, Dupont Circle).
4. Go to a concert. Enjoy live music at the Freedom Food Festival (Sun, free, Lexington), the Kick off to the 4th at the Wharf show (Fri, free, the Wharf), the Echostage 4th of July weekend concert (Sun, $50+, Brentwood), or the Independence Day Celebration Concert (Fri, free, Vienna).
5. Learn about America. Gain some knowledge about the nation’s capital at the American Independence Scavenger Hunt (Sat, $20, Roslyn) or the Secrets and Scandals of DC walking tour (Sun, $20, the National Mall).
The Big Day
1. City celebrations. There will be tons of local celebrations on Independence Day itself, including parades, fireworks, food, and music: there’s the massive event on the National Mall, of course, as well as celebrations in Annapolis (Mon, free), Fairfax (Mon, free), Great Falls (Mon, free), Leesburg (Mon, free), Manassas (Mon, free), McLean (Mon, free), Reston (Mon, free), Vienna (Mon, free), Middleburg (Mon, $45+, Middleburg), and the Wharf (Mon, free).
- If you love a parade. You can catch the National Independence Day Parade (Mon, free, the National Mall), the Capitol Hill Community 4th of July Parade (Mon, free, Capitol Hill), the 56th annual Palisades Parade and Picnic (Mon, free, Palisades), and the Takoma Park Parade (Mon, free, Takoma Park). The celebration in Laurel will also include a car show and a parade (Mon, free, Laurel) and one in Gaithersburg features a parade, beer garden, and food trucks (Mon, free, Gaithersburg).
- History buffs. Lots of places are gearing up with lessons about the country, including a concert and reading of the Declaration of Independence at the National Archives (Mon, free, the National Mall), music and ceremonies at Mount Vernon (Mon, free, Mount Vernon), and a reenactment of Fredrick Douglass’ poem ‘What to the Slave is the 4th of July’ (Mon, free, Anacostia)
2. Party on a rooftop. For some of the best views of the national fireworks, head to a rooftop event. DDC and AE will be hosting a private rooftop party on Constitution Avenue (Mon, $250, Foggy Bottom), and there will also be the Red, White, and Brew Rooftop Party featuring an open bar and an unobstructed view of the display (Mon, $85, Capitol Hill).
- Hotel rooftops. Book the “Room with a View” Package at Lyle (Mon, $199+, Dupont) or a room at The Line Hotel (Mon, $199+, Adams Morgan) to have a clear view of DC’s famous fireworks. You can also head to the CUT Above rooftop (Mon, $365, Georgetown), Ciel Social Club (Mon, $150, Mount Vernon Triangle), Replay at Pose Rooftop Lounge (Mon, $25, National Harbor), Hotel Hive (Mon, $50+, Foggy Bottom), or VUE Rooftop (Mon, $40+, Downtown) for food, drinks, and great views.
- Restaurant rooftops. Enjoy classic American food and spectacular views at the Tiki TNT Viewing Party (Mon, $75+, the Wharf). For a non-traditional celebration, you can dig into Italian feasts at the Fourth of July Dinner & Fireworks at Officina Wharf (Mon, $65, the Wharf) or L’Ardente’s dinner and fireworks viewing party (Mon, $90+, Noma).
3. Holiday fare. Restaurants around DC will be serving up food and drink specials for Independence Day. Don’t miss the release of The Ghostburger’s new hot dogs (Mon, Logan Circle), Immigrant Food’s new burgers (Sat-Mon, downtown), Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery’s mini pies (Mon, Arlington). For drinks, you can also enjoy the Red, White, and Booze special at The Lot (Mon, $5+, Arlington).
- Pre-fireworks brunch. Drink red, white, and blue margaritas all day long at Maiz64’s Mexican brunch (Mon, Logan Circle) or watch a show with your meal at Trummer’s Drag Brunch (Mon, Clifton). Experience the classic DC bottomless brunch at All-Purpose Riverfront (Mon, Navy Yard) or Boundary Stone (Mon, Bloomingdale)—plus both are serving homemade cinnamon rolls.
4. Listen to live music. Jam to jazz on July 4th at the DC Jazz Fest (Mon, free, the Wharf) or on a rooftop at Gaylord’s Jazz with a View (Mon, $25, National Harbor). You can also head to the Capitol’s West Lawn for the Capitol Fourth Concert, featuring the National Symphony Orchestra and the US Army Band (Mon, free, the National Mall); the Friends of the Soldiers Home’s Independence Day Celebration, which features a concert and food; or the July 4th Musical Celebration (Mon, free, National Cathedral).
5. Work up a sweat. The 4th of July does not have to mean eating and drinking all day. Participate in the 4th of July Bike Parade (Mon, free Arlington) or the 4th of July Tee Time Tournament (Mon, $10, Ashburn). You can also work out and have a few drinks at Barry’s Clarendon, where you can enjoy a mimosa bar and light bites after a class (Sun, Clarendon).
6. Enter the splash zone. Set sail for the holiday on the 4th of July Sunset Sail (Mon, $68.50, the Wharf) or the Red, White & Fireworks cruise celebration (Mon, free, the Wharf). Make sure to wear a swimsuit to the water gun-filled Super Soaker July 4th Party (Mon, $10, Dupont Circle).