Spend July 4th at Washington D.C and Baltimore

National Day at National Capital

Ratings Best Travel Date Cost Length


July 3rd-5th $300 2 days (1 night)

TLDR tips:

  • Plan ahead for July 4th partial museum closure
  • Arrive 30 minutes in advance for firework and expect heavy traffic
  • Chinatown is a good place to stay, lots of food and hotel options, walking distance to museums
  • Visit Baltimore at daytime, or outlets if you need time to spare

Time Stamps:

Feel free to switch the order of day-1 and day-2:

Day 1: (July 3rd)

  • 10:00 AM: Washington D.C National Park (8-10 hr)
    • Lunch are available inside Museums
  • 7:00 PM: Dinner at Chinatown

Day 2: (July 4th)

  • 10:00 AM: Leave Washington D.C to Baltimore (1 hr)
  • 11:00 AM: Baltimore Dockside (1 hr)
  • 12:00 PM: Lunch at Thames Street Oyster House (1 hr)
  • 1:00 PM: Leave Baltimore to Leesburg Premium Outlets (1 hr)
  • 2:00 PM: Shop at Leesburg Premium Outlets (3 hr)
  • 5:00 PM: Leave Leesburg Premium Outlets to Washington D.C (2 hr)
  • 7:00 PM: Dinner and get prepared for Firework (2 hr)
  • 9:00 PM: Firework show (0.5 hr)


  • Lunch in Museum: $20 per person
  • Dinner at Chinatown: $25 per person
  • Lunch at Thames Stree Oyster House: $30 per person
  • Dinner at D.C: $25 per person
  • Parking: $40 per vehicle
  • Hotel one night: $150
  • Museum Entry: Free
  • Total: $300

Although I’ve been to Washington D.C once when I was young, it has been quite a while, thus I’m revisiting it again to freshen my memory and to experience it as adult. It also happens to be during the time of the National Day holiday, so I thought it would be perfect for a capital Washington D.C trip.

National Park

Important: Expect partial closure on July 4th due to setting up firework, that includes everything west of 17th st, the Lincoln Memorial and Reflecting Pool; The Washington Monument, being the center-piece of the firework is also locked down. Visiting on July 3rd or 5th shouldn’t be a problem.

You can easily spend half a day in a single museum, especially if you’re with kids. But I find for the larger and more famous museums, two hours is generally sufficient if you just want a brief experience, and for other smaller sites, half to one hour.

Here’s an example route from my experience:

National Park walking route

  • National Museum of Natural History (2 hr)
  • National Gallery of Art (1 hr)
  • National Air and Space Museum (1 hr)
  • United States Botanic Garden (0.5 hr)
  • Smithsonian Castle (0.5 hr)

  • The White House (0.5 hr)

    • The Ellipse
  • Washington Monument (1 hr)
    • World War II Memorial and Reflecting Pool (1 hr)
  • Lincoln Memorial (1 hr)
    • Korean War Veterans Memorial

During my visit on July 4th, I could only catch a glimpse of Capitol Hill, the Smithsonian Castle, and the White House, primarily due to Covid restrictions that had temporarily closed down all the museums. It was a bit disappointing to say the least.

As I mentioned, you could easily spend more time at each museum, and there are many other attractions within the National Park and commercial museum of different theme the surrounding streets.


Don’t worry too much on spaces for watching the fireworks, there are plenty of spots to sit; just make sure to arrive 30 minutes in advance and on foot. Expect large crowds and traffic congestion (driving and parking could be a problem).

The fireworks display lasts around 10-15 minutes, it can be a bit underwhelming for some, especially it doesn’t have music accompaniment like fireworks at Disneyland.

People gathering at National Park

People waiting for fireworks


Chinatown is within a 15-minute walk from the National Park and is accessible via D.C.’s metro system. It’s not only a great dining district but also home to several nearby hotels. You will find dinning option here after the firework show close to 10 pm till mid-night.

I stayed at the Fairfield Inn, just across the street from Chinatown. However, I wouldn’t recommend this hotel as it feels a bit dated.



Baltimore, home to the famous Johns Hopkins University, is just an hour’s drive away from Washington, D.C. I’d recommend a short visit during the National Park’s closure.

Baltimore is generally clean and safe during the day, and I particularly enjoyed the dockside area. There are also plenty of parking garages available.

Baltimore dockside

Thames Street Oyster House

After strolling around downtown and the dock region, we had an amazing dining experience at the Thames Street Oyster House, where we indulged in a different selections of delicious raw oyster.

Thames street oyster house near downtown

Leesburg Premium Outlets

Another option to fill the rest of your day is a visit to the Leesburg Premium Outlets, which is about an hour away from D.C as well.

Here, you’ll find all the popular brands you’d expect from an outlet store, plus some luxury brand like Armani and Burberry.

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