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The Washington, D.C., celebration of Independence Day is naturally one of the country’s best, featuring a spectacular fireworks display on the National Mall that illuminates a monumental skyline.
It is the nation’s capital after all, but local insiders know that some of the best spots for viewing Washington’s July Fourth light show are just across the Potomac River in Arlington, Virginia. Favorite viewing spots have perches for savvy photographers, plenty of green space for picnickers, and many unobstructed views of iconic monuments to get your patriotic heart beating.
Plus, Arlington has less traffic and crowds than D.C.
The Air Force Memorial, with its hilltop location and expansive vista overlooking the Pentagon and Washington, D.C., skyline, is an excellent viewing location. The slope-side of the memorial is also open for spectators. Because it’s about a 20-minute walk from Arlington’s Pentagon City Metro station, it may be easiest to take a cab or other ride service.
Located on the west bank of the Potomac River in Arlington, Gravelly Point is just north of Reagan National Airport on the George Washington Memorial Parkway. Famous as a site for watching airplanes take off and land, this national parkland is also a prime viewing area for the capital fireworks. The park has a few picnic tables and portable restrooms, so be sure to bring a blanket.
Connecting Arlington’s Rosslyn and Washington, D.C.’s Georgetown neighborhoods, the Francis Scott Key Bridge offers stunning views of the Potomac River and D.C. Although there’s no seating on the bridge, you can stroll over from the Rosslyn Metro station and enjoy a standing-room-only view of the national fireworks from the sidewalk.
Within a mile of the National Mall as the crow flies, Arlington’s Long Bridge Park and its three athletic fields offer great fireworks views along with plenty of room to spread a blanket for a picnic. Long Bridge Park is located at the north end of Arlington’s Crystal City neighborhood and is easily accessible from the Crystal City Metro station.
At the famous Iwo Jima statue in Arlington’s Rosslyn neighborhood, you’ll get the panoramic view of fireworks and National Mall monuments and memorials, as well as the iconic statue of Marines raising the flag. Pinch yourself: you’re perhaps in the most quintessentially American location to celebrate the nation’s birthday!
Take Metro the Rosslyn Metro station and walk 0.2 miles to the memorial. Please note that there may be security checkpoints at different viewing areas, so you’ll want to plan accordingly.
For information on National Park Service viewing areas, see the NPS Fireworks page.
Author: Kathleen Murphy