Here in Washington we love the sparkle and sizzle of an Independence Day celebration. Last year I was in New York visiting my son and his family and we saw the fireworks from the roof of our hotel. The year before I was in Boston visiting my daughter who was working there for the summer. Since I don’t like crowds at night, we opted to watch the fireworks over the Charles River while listening to the Pops – from the comfort of the hotel rooftop lounge! Still, if you live in the Washington area, the National Mall is a classic choice for the fireworks. Unfortunately for me, the 700,000 people that gather for the event can be overwhelming. One year we went to the National Cathedral to the circle in front of Saint Albans and had a great view of the fireworks. Other people enjoy sitting on the corner of Connecticut Avenue and Bradley Lane and watching the fireworks above the Chevy Chase Club. There really are a lot of options! Here are a few less populated venues for an equally dazzling display without the throng of tourists.
Independence Day Celebration at Montgomery County Fairgrounds
Bring your own food and picnic on the grounds for an all-evening celebration of the nation. Live music, activities for families, food vendors, and fireworks are in the lineup this year. Live in the Gaithersburg area but don’t want to fight the crowds at the event? Here are some alternatives for catching a great view of the show: The Commuter Lot off I-270 at Exit 11, the Lakeforest Mall parking lot, and the business parking lots along Route 355 near the Fairgrounds.
When: July 4, 3 pm-11 pm
Montgomery County Fairgrounds
16 Chestnut St. (Gaithersburg, Md)
The annual Frederick 4th of July event is a fun filled day for families. The event itself is free and there are plenty of entertaining opportunities to enjoy including the famous bathtub race across Culler Lake. When it’s time to settle in for the airborne festivities, consider parking your crew in one of these prime viewing places: Fleming Avenue Swimming Pool Area, Frederick High School Lawn, or the Carillon Area of Baker Park.
When: July 4, 12 pm
121 N Bentz St. (Frederick, Md)
July 4th Festival and Fireworks at Columbia
Families will enjoy live music on two stages (a main stage and a children’s stage; can you say, “convenient”?) along with a full schedule of family friendly activities, including face painting and crazy-hair-for-a-day designs. There are limited parking spaces at the event, so skip the parking wars by finding a spot at the Columbia Mall and walking from there.
When: July 4, 5 p.m.-10 p.m.
Columbia Lake Kittamaqundi
10221 Wincopin Cr. (Columbia, Md)
This family friendly event features rides for the kids, food vendors, and even a hayride around the area of the Old Town Train Depot. There will also be a few friendly competitions, including watermelon and pie eating, and bicycle decorating. Families can park themselves (and their snacks) on the Manassas Museum lawn to watch the fireworks show.
When: July 4, 3 p.m.-10 p.m. (fireworks start at 9:15 pm)
Old Town Manassas
9431 West St. (Manassas, Va)
Lake Fairfax Fireworks
Love to camp? Lake Fairfax Park has an awesome 4th of July event with family entertainment, food vendors, and an impressive fireworks display. Plus, they have a campground where outdoorsy types can pitch a tent during the day, and be on site for all of the festivities. The Water Mine swimming hole, carousel, and boat rides are all open and ready to entertain as well.
When: June 30, 7 p.m.-10:30 p.m. (fireworks start at 9:30 pm)
Lake Fairfax Park
1400 Lake Fairfax Dr. (Reston, Va)
Annapolis 4th of July Celebration
Watch a parade, listen to the U.S. Naval Academy Band, then watch the fireworks display. Susan Campbell Park (where the band will perform) is said to have the best view, but with 50,000 people eager to catch the show it is also expected to be the most crowded venue. The City of Annapolis recommends you find a spot in any of the public spaces northeast of the Severn River or at any of the street-end parks facing Spa Creek.
When: July 4, 6:30 p.m. (fireworks start at 9:15 p.m.)
Downtown Annapolis & Susan Campbell Park
1 Dock St. (Annapolis, Md)
Leesburg Independence Day Celebration
This historic town kicks off festivities with a parade at 10 a.m., which starts at Ida Lee Park and travels down King Street. After the parade, return to Ida Lee Park for a free outdoor concert at 6 p.m. followed by the real show at 9:30 p.m.; Leesburg hosts the largest fireworks display in Loudoun county.
60 Ida Lee Dr., NW (Leesburg, Va)
Ports America Chesapeake 4th of July Celebration
Live music from The United States Navy Band Cruisers will commence at 7 p.m. at the Inner Harbor Amphitheater (between Pratt and Light Street). The fireworks, which start at 9:30 pm, can best be viewed from Federal Hill, Fell’s Point and Harbor East.
Inner Harbor (Baltimore, Md)
Rockin Independence Eve
Start the party early with water slides, slip n’ slides, sno cones and more at Sprinklers and Sparklers (Vienna Community Center, 4 p.m.-7 p.m.). At 7 p.m., Mars Rodeo will hit the stage followed by pyrotechnics at 9 p.m.
1319 Ross Drive (Vienna, Va)