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Washington, DC’s Three-Day Party for the Fourth of July

Spend our nation’s birthday in the nation’s capital, and you won’t have to schedule a thing. Take a look at this three-day itinerary to make the most of the holiday weekend. Plus, the city is only two and half hours south of Philadelphia by car or 90 minutes by train, so you won’t waste much vacation time on travel.

Friday, July 3

10 a.m. On the eve of the big day, set out early and most the most of the city. Take the kids (and adults) to the National Museum of American History to see the original flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Then visit Spark!Lab, which opens July 1. The exhibit inspires kids’ creativity and the spirit of invention.

7 p.m. Be in-the-know and join locals on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol for the evening dress rehearsal of the free Independence Day concert, A Capitol Fourth. The 90-minute show features the National Symphony Orchestra.

Saturday, July 4

10 a.m. Begin our nation’s birthday with the document that started it all. A reading of the Declaration of Independence will take place at the National Archives. Patriotic performances and a presentation of colors will also be part of the festivities. Then take in one of Washington, DC’s hallmark events: the National Independence Day Parade. Marching bands from across the country will join military and specialty units, patriotic floats, and VIPs. The parade begins at 11:45 a.m. on Constitution Avenue and 7th Street NW. Make sure to wear your red, white, and blue!

2 p.m. That afternoon, head over to George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate, just south of the city, for An American Celebration. Daytime fireworks will soar over the Potomac River, and birthday cake will be served. Cannon fire will ring out throughout the day as military reenactments take place. “General” and “Mrs. Washington” will even make an appearance. The National Concert Band will perform a “Red, White and Blue” concert.

6 p.m. Back in the city, pick up a takeout dinner at Hill Country Barbecue. Choose from Texas-inspired brisket, sausage, or ribs. Then find a spot to watch the fireworks. The Lincoln Memorial is a favorite location. The crowds come quickly, though, so don’t wait. The fireworks usually start around 9 p.m.

Sunday, July 5

10 a.m. The Fourth continues in our nation’s capital with a trip to “The BEACH” inside the National Building Museum’s Great Hall. The interactive architectural installation will cover 10,000 square feet and have an “ocean” of almost one million recyclable translucent plastic balls. Visitors can “swim” in the “ocean” or sit on the 50-foot-wide “shoreline” with a book. Other beachside favorites include paddleball and a snack bar.

1 p.m. Visit the newly reopened Textile Museum to see “Unraveling Identity: Our Textiles, Our Stories.” The exhibition contains more than 100 pieces from five continents spanning 2,000 years. It uses textiles to examine expressions of individual, cultural, political, and social identity.

A long weekend full of history, celebration, and exploration awaits in Washington, DC, for the Fourth of July. Click here to start the fun.