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The 4th of July Weekend Celebration in Washington, D.C.

Updated: Jul 12, 2022

We always wanted to spend time in Washington for the 4th of July.

Our 9:00am flight was delayed for four hours. United had to change all the life boats because they passed their expiration date. Our plane was already at the airport the evening before, so it is a little bit strange that they did not see that before and anticipated the problem.

We flew to Dulles airport and took Uber to the hotel. We stayed at the Washington Marriott at Metro Center. It’s an excellent location near the White House, the National Mall and the Capitol. Our room was a decent size and was very quiet.

We had dinner at The Hamilton, located just steps from the White House. They are owned by the Clyde’s Restaurant Group, which also manages Old Ebbit Grill (another well know restaurant near the White House). The food was ok but the service was excellent.

On our first full day we walked to the National Mall and first visited the National Museum of Natural History. We really enjoyed their prehistoric section, which gathers a lot of dinosaur skeletons. We continued to the National Museum of American History, which has a great section dedicated to Presidents and First Ladies. My wife loved the First Lady's gown exhibition.

We ended our day at the Library of Congress. We had never visited the building and we were very happy that this time we did. They have more than 164 million items including photos, maps and books. It is one of the largest libraries in the world. The main room and the rotunda are spectacular.

We had dinner at Baan Siam, a Thai restaurant that has one of the best ratings in its category in the city. It has a very nice atmosphere and the food was creative and had a lot of flavor. We ordered our entrees spicy and it was very hot. We will know better for next time.

On July 3rd we took Uber to the Zoo, which is part of the Smithsonian Institution and is therefore free of charge. It is a large zoo that requires some walking up and down the hill. We first visited the famous pandas, which are located up the hill. I will recommend to start your visit there. It was busy, but we only had to wait in line a few minutes before entering the area where the pandas were located. We then saw the lions, tiger, apes and elephants. Other animals are located between these main exhibits. We ended at the bottom of the hill and took a taxi to our next destination.

We had lunch at Union Station, one of the country’s first great union railroad terminals. It’s a beautiful building. After lunch we visited the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum, across the street from Union Station. It opened in 1993 inside the historic City Post Office Building and it holds the National Philatelic Collection. The museum has a lot of interesting sections and it is fun to visit.

We had dinner at Joe’s Seafood. At one point they were somehow related to the famous Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami Beach, but now they are part of Lettuce Restaurant, which manage hundreds of restaurants. Our meal was good, but definitely nothing compared to the original Joe’s restaurant.

Our 4th of July started at the National Archives where they had a traditional reading ceremony of the Declaration of Independence on the Museum steps. The Old Guard and the Continental Color Guard presented the colors, followed by the fife and drum corps. Afterwards we went inside the National Archives to look at the Declaration of Independence. Tickets are free and you can get them in advance from their website (as it is the case for most of the Smithsonian museums). There was a long line to visit this, so it is smart to get your tickets in advance.

We had lunch at the Founding Farmers restaurant, located just three blocks west of the White House. We had been there a couple of times before. We really enjoy their food. Their prices and very reasonable for a large city. The restaurant is owned by American family farmers.

We went back to the hotel after lunch and rested before the fireworks. All the streets near the National Mall were closed and barricaded, so it is good to have a hotel within walking distance. We arrived at the National Mall just after 6:00pm and found a place in the shade. It was already busy, but not overwhelming. We moved to the lawn behind the Washington Monument an hour later and enjoyed our picnic and adult beverages. The atmosphere was very friendly and we met a lot of nice people. The fireworks started just after 9:00pm. The sky was clear and the temperature was enjoyable for the season. It was a beautiful and colorful 35-minute display. The fireworks are launched behind the Lincoln Memorial, so you have some magnificent monuments in front of you, then the fireworks in the backdrop. It was truly amazing to watch fireworks on the 4th in our nation's capital!

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