I spent the 1980s with a million others listening to the Beach Boys concerts on the national Mall before some politician thought it was somehow un-American. I learned a few things from those days.
If you want to go down to the Washington Monument to see the best fireworks in town, go ahead. Just be prepared for massive crowds, massive delays and massive heat. Don’t worry, you’ll be home in time to go to work on Thursday.
Mostly, that’s the twenty-something crowd with no kids that can handle that mess. It’s fun when you’re young, not so much when you’re older.
But here are a few good places where you can still see the fireworks.
The Air Force Memorial in Arlington is the best vantage point on the Virginia side of the river. Great view of the entire city, plenty of free parking and you’re ahead of the departing crowd. This is much better than the Iwo Jima Memorial except the latter has a closer metro stop.
The U.S. Capitol has an Independence Day concert by the military at 8 p.m. (get there by 6 p.m.) with the backdrop of fireworks.
East Potomac Park isn’t too crowded so a picnic dinner by the water is possible.
Gravelly Point by National Airport gets crowded, but it’s a nice park setting on the Virginia side.
Naturally, anyone can say the Lincoln Memorial, World War II Memorial or Jefferson Memorials are great sites, but they’re virtually by the Washington Monument so all of downtown is lumped into one in my opinion. Lots of security, lines and long metro ride home. The rooftop bars are great, too, but just walking into one without reservations isn’t easy.
Like I said, my couch and remote are looking good this year.