If you’re hanging out in my hometown this weekend, Washington D.C. is a great city, with so many amazing (and free) things to do.
Within D.C. City Limits, No Car Required
- Go to the Mall for the Concert on the Capitol Lawn and stay to watch fireworks. Admission: FREE Everyone should do this once. Admittance begins at 3p.m. Get there early and be prepared for security check points. They will be checking backpacks, coolers, purses, etc. (No glass containers or alcohol permitted). Bring plenty of water, sunscreen, a blanket, folding chairs, and always be prepared for a summer thunderstorm. (Looks like this year it’s an 80% chance of rain on the 4th). Enjoy the concert and you will also have a fabulous seat for the fireworks. Admittance to the National Mall begins at 10:00 a.m. Take Metro, as crowds easily exceed 500,000. (My bonus tip: pack up and leave a little early before the fireworks end to avoid the mass rush to the Metro stations, or you could be waiting hours to get home.)
- If you want to avoid most of the crowds, come a day early, on July 3rd to the Capitol Grounds, and watch full dress rehearsal, which is also open to the public. Security check points will also be in full force. Admission: FREE No fireworks, though.
- Here is a link to the top spots to catch the fireworks on the Mall without actually going to the Mall.
- Catch the fireworks while on a dinner cruise. It’s an awesome experience.
- The Washington Nationals will be hosting the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday. Take advantage of this Groupon which includes a field level ticket and a $10 credit towards merchandise or concessions for $38.65.
If You have Access to A Vehicle
- If you want to skip the festivities, pick up a picnic lunch and head to the Maryland side of Great Falls. There are great hiking trails, picnic areas, and wonderful scenic opportunities to view the Potomac River. The cost is $10 per vehicle. There is a snack bar that operates seasonally within the park and there are concessions nearby. Get there early, especially on weekends and holidays as the park fills up quickly. Fees to enter the park are $10 per vehicle.
- Historic downtown Annapolis, Maryland, was briefly the Nation’s capital from November 26, 1783 until August 13, 1784. There is a lot of history here worth seeing. For the 4th, Historic Annapolis is hosting a parade at 6:30 p.m., the Navy band is playing a free concert at the City Dock beginning at 8:00 p.m. until dark, and the fireworks are set to go off from a barge in the Severn River at 9:15 p.m. Complete information can be found here.
- Mount Vernon is also a must see, rich in Colonial history, and the home of our first President, George Washington. Mount Vernon will be opening an hour earlier on the 4th at 8:00 a.m. (*This is another great viewing place for the fireworks from the Washington Mall.)
- The Bowie Baysox (a minor league team for the Baltimore Orioles) will be playing at home versus the Trenton Thunder on the 4th. General admission tickets are $10, $7 for seniors and kids. Affordable and fun for the entire family. Gates open at 4:30 p.m. and there will be games and music on the concourse. The concessions will also open early. Ticket information is here. There is a kid’s park and concessions are very reasonably priced. There will be a fireworks show following the game. Directions to the stadium are here.
- If you are looking for an adventure a few hours away, one of my all time favorite go to spots is Ocean City, Maryland. My family has been going to Ocean City for as long as I can remember. My Mom would pack us all in the Ford station wagon and leave at the crack of dawn with a picnic lunch. We’d get to the beach at 9:00 a.m. and stay until sunset, and then she’d drive us home. (There was no money in the budget to stay at a hotel, however, we still had a great time). The boardwalk is a great place to sit and people watch and the 4th of July festivities are top-notch. Ocean City puts off fireworks in two locations, Northside Park at 125th Street and on the beach at North Division Street. Both locations are hosting a free concert beginning at 8:00 p.m. The Bay Bridge traffic can be horrendous, so my suggestion is to leave early and stay late, or better yet, get a hotel for the night and avoid the hassle. Bay Bridge traffic cameras can be found here.
My fourth of July will be very low-key this year, and that’s okay. We were hoping to take the boat out, but we won’t be able to this year. Hopefully we’ll grill some hotdogs and hamburgers and enjoy the day here at home.
I hope you enjoy your Independence Day in my hometown.