Baby you’re a firework!!! This past weekend, my best friends Hannah and Alanna visited for the July 4th weekend. We had a blast and were able to, as Hannah put it, visited three states – Virginia, District of Columbia, and Maryland – in 3 days. We spent our weekend exploring the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, Virginia (but mostly for a fireworks show), Annapolis, Maryland with a boat ride along the Severn River off of the Chesapeake Bay, and of course Washington, DC. Today, I will be sharing our experiences from the past weekend AND some tips and tricks to combating the crowds and still having a great time at the notable fireworks show in Washington, DC. Here we go!!!

My July 4 Weekend Trip

Friday – The Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, Virginia

Alanna and Hannah both came in on the train on Friday evening. My Papa LOVES going to the Workhouse Arts Center’s fireworks show every year, so he bought my friends and I a tailgate ticket to enjoy the fireworks, ourselves while he got a VIP ticket.

Fun fact: The Workhouse Arts Center is the former prison outside of Washington, DC-turned Arts Center. The formerly known Lorton Prison also housed some of many notable suffragettes in the 1900’s, bringing on a dark history to the center and Northern Virginia suburb of Lorton. Since becoming an Arts Center, the Workhouse Arts Center hosts a fireworks show every year along with displaying beautiful pieces of artwork made by local artists along with glasses, galleries, and a museum exhibit on its former prison roots.

Before going to the Workhouse Arts Center for a fireworks display, we all grabbed Mission BBQ – one of my favorite barbecue chains that supports police officers, firemen, and our military amongst many other first responders and our own American heroes. Once we arrived at the Arts Center, we strolled through the vendors and stations filled with several local businesses and admired the Arts Center’s grounds. We got to enjoy our dinners and the sunsets before an 8 minute-long fireworks show. Such a great way to kick start the July 4th weekend!

Saturday – Annapolis, Maryland

Some of my many relatives live in and around the beautiful town of Annapolis, Maryland. Annapolis is the Maryland state capitol and resides on the Chesapeake Bay. For reference, the Maryland city reminds me of the beautiful New England cities of Boston, Massachusetts and Newport, Rhode Island! To kick off our time in this gorgeous city, we visited my relatives at their Annapolis house before hitting the historic downtown.

Once we went downtown, we walked around the notable Annapolis Main Street and hit the local and oh-so preppy boutiques that it has to offer. Most notably, The Lucky Knot and of course The Pink Crab – a Lilly Pulitzer Signature Store. We also hit the most stunning Starbucks locations that I have been to on Main Street along with the 17 year old flagship Annapolis Ice Cream Company. We, then, strolled along State Circle which is home to the Maryland Statehouse and some extraordinary views of it. The streets all along Main Street and State Circle are cobblestone streets with colonial inspiration wherever you go!

After exploring downtown, we walked about a mile away to Eastport, Maryland where my Uncle John’s sailboat is. On our walk there, we crossed a beautiful drawbridge that displayed stunning views of the Chesapeake Bay and the Severn River along with local Maryland yacht clubs. Once we arrived on the boat, we enjoyed several stunning views of the Severn River. We went by the Naval Academy, downtown Annapolis, and much more! We, even, saw a rainbow from a recent storm – what a great way to spend the day!

Sunday – Washington, DC

From 8am to 12am, we were all in for a full Washington, DC Fourth of July. Each way, we took Metro – the Washington, DC area transit system. We kicked off our day with a Sunday brunch at the uber trendy and super fun Urban Roast. Urban Roast is known for their charcuterie boards with everything from your typical meat and cheese to waffles and your typical morning breakfast favorites! We got the breakfast board with waffles, biscuits, eggs, fruit, pastries, bacon, and sausage. It was great and the Instagram photos made it all even better!

Our early afternoon was spent at the Smithsonian’s American History Museum. As I have previously mentioned in my blog posts, due to COVID-19, the Smithsonian is offering ticketed entry where visitors can register to visit at a particular time up to 30 days in advance. All tickets are free, just like every Smithsonian museum always is. Everyone must wear a mask and maintain a social distance of 6 feet apart. So, we in a socially distanced fashion enjoyed the Smithsonian Museum – probably my favorite of the bunch! We went to the First Ladies, Transportation, and Food exhibits amongst many others. My favorite exhibits is, in fact, The First Ladies exhibit. The gift shop at that museum is also a favorite of mine, too. Definitely a fun time!

The remainder of our day was spent in and around the National Mall. The National Mall is where the fireworks were to be held that night. We ate at local food trucks for dinner and ice cream and took naps on the Mall, with some of us awake at each time of course. We also walked around to go see the National Monument, Korean War Memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, and Capitol at a distance (each were blocked off due to the fireworks). The fireworks were a blast as the fireworks show was packed with visitors and fireworks for 17 minutes straight. Fireworks were presented by the National Monument and the Jefferson Memorial/Tidal Basin. It was super cool to see both, as well. Overall, it was a hot day but a very fun one, too!

Tips for seeing the Washington, DC Fireworks

  • DO NOT spend all Day in the city – get there in the evening. If you don’t, then you will probably be drained and tired of the crowds like I was by 3pm. The crowds get bigger and bigger as the day progresses. Take the fireworks viewing like a concert – be alert and ready to watch and have a great time!!!
  • Take public transportation – pretty much all of the areas to park in the city and even the nearby suburbs will be closed. So, be prepared to take the Metro in and the crowds that come with it.
  • Bring chairs, blankets, and your own food and water – food and water bottles are expensive in the city and your own comfort will be more at ease when you do. Sitting in the grass can suck at times if you forget it all and your wallet will appreciate you, too.
  • Leave the National Mall a few minutes later – it will be very crowded once the fireworks show ends. People will be rushing to leave once it all ends and the crowds will be INSANE. So, definitely save yourself the hassle and hang out in and around the National Mall a few moments later. You also may want to walk a little bit extra to a further Metro station such as Metro Center, Foggy Bottom, or Farragut North/West. You can even check out a bar or restaurant, too. Just be mindful that Metro trains will depart at around 10:45 at the latest.

Here’s to a great July 4th weekend with even greater friends!!!

XOXO – Katie <3

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