There’s no city more patriotic to experience Independence Day than our nation’s capital. An easy drive from many East Coast cities and a direct flight from many more destinations, Washington D.C. is great for a last-minute holiday getaway.
Plan transportation carefully
Washington is a transportation hub with three major airports. Fly to either Dulles, Ronald Reagan or Baltimore-Washington International Airport, and you’ll usually be settled into your hotel within the hour.
Generally speaking, it’s easy to get around, too. The Metro, the city’s public transportation system, runs daily from most locations in the D.C. area, including many cities in Maryland and Virginia. Of late, however, Metro has begun to undergo extensive repairs, resulting in fewer, slower and less frequent trains. When planning your D.C. trip, consult sources like the Metro website, consider using Uber, or take advantage of your hotel’s house car service. You may also want to plan to stay at accommodations such as Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The St. Regis Washington D.C. that are within walking distance to your preferred attractions.
The Fourth is on a Monday this year, which means that much of the city will be quiet over the holiday weekend as locals escape to the beach and elsewhere. The signature event of the holiday, A Capitol Fourth, will take place on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol from 8 to 9:30 p.m. on the actual day, but locals know that one of the best ways to catch the show without crowds is to arrive on the 3rd and see the rehearsal — you’ll get to experience the National Symphony Orchestra and the guest singers without all the traffic and fuss. This year’s performances include Smokey Robinson, Kenny Loggins, Gavin DeGraw, Amber Riley and more.
Holiday weekends in D.C. are a foodie’s favorite time to get otherwise hard-to-score restaurant reservations, as many locals depart town for the weekend. Some of our must-try new spots? The tasting-menu–focused Pineapple and Pearls from the team behind Rose’s Luxury on Capitol Hill or pizza-centric All Purpose in the trendy Shaw neighborhood are good places to start.
Have drinks at Espita, a mezcaleria in the same neighborhood, and oysters at raw bar Whaley’s near Nationals Park. Of course, you can always opt for favorites like French-focused Le Diplomate in Logan Circle, Indian fare at Rasika, or molecular gastronomy at José Andrés’ Minibar.
Book patriotic packages
Washington’s luxury hotels go all out for this most patriotic holiday. One of our favorite hotels, The Hay-Adams, a Four-Star property located just steps from the White House, offers a unique overnight package that includes a three-course dinner for two with wine and an open bar, followed by champagne and desserts at Top of the Hay, the hotel’s unique event space overlooking 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Coming with the whole family? The Little Presidents and Their Secret Service package at Four-Star The Jefferson, Washington D.C., just four blocks from the White House, offers a buy-one-room-get-the-second-50-percent-off deal, and it includes kid-approved perks like a free toy, a welcome amenity and $100 food and beverage credit.
Opt for air-conditioned activities
July in D.C. tends to be hot and humid, with temperatures often soaring above 90. Escape the heat with a walk through some of the district’s free museums, where you’ll find cool new exhibits like “One Life: Babe Ruth” at the Portrait Gallery or the soon-to-close “Wonder” at the Renwick Gallery (ending July 10) or “Frank Sinatra at 100” (ending July 10) at the American History Museum.
Want something a bit more adults-oriented? Try a visit to a local brewery like Bluejacket or DC Brau or check out the Green Hat gin distillery. Another smart option on those sweltering days is taking a daytrip out to some of the many wineries in Virginia that are less than an hour’s drive from D.C. Travel in style with one of Reston Limo’s wine tours.