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15 Best Places to Watch Fireworks in Washington DC

4th of july fireworks on the water washington DC

Is there anything better than watching the 4th of July fireworks in Washington DC? After all, DC represents America with its focus on providing equality for all. Where else can you visit the White House, see the Abraham Lincoln memorial, and go to the United States Capitol? DC may not be the birthplace of democracy—that distinction belongs to Ancient Greece—but it is the American version. Therefore, celebrating America’s independence in Washington DC is much the same as eating apple pie or going to a baseball game. It’s quintessentially American!  

Where to see 4th of July fireworks

‘Where can I watch fireworks’ is definitely one of the top questions in DC around the 4th of July. Fortunately, we’ve gathered a list of some of the very best places to see 4th of July fireworks in DC. 

Don’t forget to go early and take whatever you’ll need with you. Watching the 4th of July fireworks from Washington, DC is almost like going to New York City on New Year’s Eve. It’s an experience you’ll never forget, and you’ll get to share it with thousands of people. Head to any of the following spots to witness a truly unforgettable fireworks show! 

1. The National Mall 

Imagine you’re sitting on the grass at The National Mall watching red, green, yellow, and white fireworks fill the sky. Everyone around you is in awe of the brilliant display, and you get goosebumps from realizing the true importance of the moment. Sound nice? Well, that’s why The National Mall is the number one place in Washington DC to see the 4th of July fireworks. As such, you’ll need to get there early, especially if you want a prime viewing spot by the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, or the Jefferson Memorial. Even better, the fireworks show will be launched so that they reflect in the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool!  

Be sure to take public transportation, or you could get stuck in traffic. Additionally, don’t forget to check out planned road closures, along with which items will be prohibited

2. Washington National Cathedral 

Have you seen one of the famous DC photos that feature fireworks and a gargoyle? They were taken at the Washington National Cathedral! You don’t need to be religious to enjoy this experience, either! Instead, grab yourself a spot near the cathedral in the Upper Northwest to enjoy the show. It’s a good idea to bring a picnic because you have to arrive so early to ensure you’ll have a spot. It’ll be worth the wait, though, as this is definitely a good place to watch fireworks. 

3. Across the Potomac River 

Did you know that one of the best places to watch fireworks in DC isn’t actually in the city? Head to Arlington, VA to witness the fireworks, and you’ll get the added bonus of seeing some of DC’s most important buildings underneath the light show! 

Do you want your photos to be truly spectacular? Go to the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial. Between the city view, outstanding fireworks display, and the Iwo Jima Memorial, you’ll be able to capture patriotism in a frame-worthy picture. Wouldn’t that look fantastic hanging on your wall?  

4. U.S. Supreme Court Plaza 

Another great place to watch the fireworks is in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. The plaza should be open and accessible on the 4th, and it’s expected that hordes of people will travel there for exactly this purpose. The best thing about choosing U.S. Supreme Court Plaza is that there is plenty of room, and there won’t be any obstructions in your way. You can expect to see people fill this location early, so be sure to head to this DC landmark at least a couple of hours before the show begins. 

5. Military Women’s Memorial 

If you want to know where to watch fireworks in DC, then we should tell you about the best kept secret in the National Capital Region. Since it’s the 4th of July, we’ll assume you’ll be on foot. Starting at the Lincoln Memorial, take a 1.2-mile stroll across the pedestrian sidewalk of Arlington Memorial Bridge. This will take you straight to the Military Women’s Memorial, where the crowds should be much lighter. From there, you can watch the entire show without dealing with as much chaos as the Lincoln Memorial. 

6. The Wharf 

4th of july fireworks dc The Wharf 

The Wharf is known for offering waterfront views, shopping, dining, hotels, music and nightlife, free public Wi-Fi, and so much more. It also happens to be located only four blocks away from The National Mall, which makes it an amazing area to watch the fireworks! 

Every location on this list needs a ‘go early’ warning, but no other spot can offer so much to do while you wait. In fact, if you truly want to make sure you’re able to see the fireworks without anything getting in your way, you can spend the entire day at The Wharf. There is plenty to eat and drink, after all, and you catch some live music while you wait, too. 

7. Cardozo High School Parking Lot 

Some people want to be right in the thick of things, while others prefer to take more of a backseat. If you’re one of the latter, Cardozo High School—also known as Cardozo Education Campus—is the place for you! It has become a tradition among some local residents to go here due to its high elevation. You’ll be able to see the entire fireworks show, but you’ll also be far enough away that all the associated hustle and bustle won’t be a problem. This means you’ll be home and asleep already while people who went to The National Mall are still trying to get home. 

8. VUE Rooftop DC 

Another prime spot for revelers who don’t want to be right next to the fireworks is VUE Rooftop. You will need a ticket to this event, but it’s worthwhile because you’ll get to avoid the most hectic part of the city. Plus, because you’ll be up on the rooftop, you can get away from the worst of the night time humidity. Therefore, go to VUE, enjoy a few drinks, and then take in one of the best shows on earth! 

9. Lady Bird Johnson Park 

Lady Bird Johnson Park normally serves as an important respite for DC’s residents. Between its paved trail, memorials, marina, and picnic tables, it definitely meets this goal. It’s so quiet, in fact, that it’s likely to attract a smaller crowd than the nearby Pentagon area. However, going to this island on the 4th of July will enable you to see completely unobstructed views of each and every firework that is shot into the sky. 

10. Hains Point Picnic Area in East Potomac Park 

This is where to go to see fireworks in DC if you don’t want to have other revelers close by. Although we’re sure that other people will head to this location, there is enough room for them to spread out. Between tons of picnic tables and lots of grassy land, Hains Point Picnic Area in East Potomac Park encourages visitors to grab a slice of land, spread out a blanket, and wait for the show to begin! 

11. Street Level 

What if you’re not the type of person who wants to arrive somewhere super early and wait until the fireworks start? Well, there is an alternative. Rather than hanging out at one of DC’s landmarks, why not go downtown for dinner? You can still catch the fireworks, but you’ll be seeing them from ground level. Some restaurants to consider include Café du Parc, Tony & Joe’s Seafood Place, and Nick’s Riverside Grill. Be sure to make a reservation early, and plan to be done eating by 9. Then just go outside and look up! 

12. The Kennedy Center Terrace 

The Kennedy Center is home to live entertainment, and its terrace provides one of the best places to view 4th of July fireworks. You’ll be able to get clear, unobstructed views of the city, along with the fireworks show. This is far from the first place that most people will think of, though, so it also offers you a bit more distance from other viewers. Still, we recommend getting there early so you can pick out the best spot!  

4th of july fireworks in the DC night sky

What time are DC Fireworks?

Washington, DC’s big 4th of July extravaganza kicks off at 9:09 p.m. on the dot. The fireworks will shoot off from both sides of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, which will leave an absolutely amazing view for those lucky enough to grab a seat close by. After all, you’ll be able to see the fireworks in the air, plus they will be reflected in the reflecting pool. 

Other Top Firework Shows in DC

The fourth of July might be the fireworks show everyone thinks about, but it’s far from the only one that DC area residents can view. Each of the following shows is also fantastic! 

13. New Year’s Eve 

If NYC is the first place that comes to mind when talking about NYE fireworks, you’re far from alone. But did you know that DC hosts a stunning firework display over the Potomac River? It’s one of many events to choose from on New Year’s Eve!  

14. Pride Fireworks 

This annual event takes over The Wharf and turns it into a diverse, exciting array of entertainment and activities. The main event is the Pride Fireworks show, which begins at 9 p.m. sharp. The 2024 Pride on the Pier event is free, open to the public, and takes place on June 8th

15. National Cherry Blossom Festival 

The National Cherry Blossom Festival, also known as Petalpalooza, takes place in April of each year. After enjoying the all-day, all-ages event that features music, art, and family friendly activities, you can celebrate with a large firework show that starts at 8:30.

Make Fireworks Even Better

You can easily spot the 4th of July fireworks, which will provide you with the ideal way to celebrate America’s independence. But what about another firework show? Let’s say you want to take in the thrill of Pride Fireworks or are already planning to catch the fireworks at next year’s National Cherry Blossom Festival, but you don’t want to get lost in a sea of people. Great news: there’s another way! 

Ride in luxury down DC’s waterways as you soak in a hot tub that’s on a boat! This will give you the most exclusive seat in town, but you won’t have to actually enter either event. Sea the City operates DC’s only hot tub boat, and it’ll be available for watching fireworks on NYE, as well. In other words, you can relax and allow our captain to show you the time of your life, which will be capped off with a firework show! Additionally, you’ll get to take in all of DC’s most important landmarks without having to give up the hot tub experience! 

Be sure to book in advance, as space is quite limited. Reserve a private boat for yourself and your friends today!

DC fireworks hot tub boat tour