This year, our family spent a few days in Washington DC over the 4th of July – what better place to celebrate Independence Day than in our nation’s capital! We had a little hiccup on our way to DC: our flight from Cincinnati was delayed 18 hours so we arrived a day later than planned, but we were still in time to take full advantage of the city’s 4th of July celebrations!
We spent most of our 4th at the National Mall, beginning with a visit to the Air and Space Museum. The museum is huge – you could spend hours in it – and is split into two parts, about half the exhibits are about space and the other half about flight. We only had just about an hour and started on the flight side and didn’t even make it to the space exhibits! The flight exhibits cover the history of flying starting even before the Wright brothers, then onto the growth of aviation including exhibits on Charles and Anne Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart and the incredible flights they made. They even had the Spirit of St. Louis on display – it was the plane that Charles Lindbergh flew on the first solo flight across the Atlantic back in 1927! And there was an exhibit about how flying went from being something that was only done by great pilots and the military to becoming commercialized and available to everyone. It was all so interesting, we definitely would have liked to spend more time there!
Then it was time for the National Independence Day Parade! We headed over to Constitution Ave. and found a spot across the street from the National Archives Building. We got there just before the parade started, but wished we would have gotten there earlier – on the steps of the National Archives they had actors dressed up as the founding fathers to read the Declaration of Independence and then had a band playing up until the parade started!
After the parade, we went to the American History Museum. One of the coolest exhibits (especially to see on the 4th of July!) was the Star-Spangled Banner exhibit. They had the actual flag that inspired the national anthem on display! We also visited the American Presidency exhibit (including Lincoln’s top hat!) and saw all of the First Ladies’ dresses on display. Other highlights were the We the People video, Julia Child’s kitchen and Dorothy’s ruby red slippers.
After being on the go all day so far, we were ready for a break so we headed back to our Airbnb to rest for a bit and have dinner. Then later in the evening we headed back to the National Mall, this time to the Capitol Building. On the west lawn, we went to the free 4th of July concert, A Capitol Fourth! It was packed by the time we got there and standing room only (well, there was room to sit but you wouldn’t be able to see anything with everyone standing around you!), but it was a neat show. It was hosted by Tom Bergeron (of Dancing with the Stars) and we saw performances by Kenny Loggins, Gavin DeGraw, Cassadee Pope, Amber Riley (from Glee) and the National Symphony Orchestra! Then the fireworks started – we had expected to be able to see them from there, as they are shot off from the lawn of the National Mall, but they were hidden behind some trees. Plus it was cloudy and a little bit drizzly so even once we moved over a bit they were still kind of hard to see. Since we couldn’t see them very well anyways, we ended up leaving a little early hoping to beat the rush on the metro!
Even though the weather wasn’t great for the fireworks, we still had a great time celebrating the 4th in Washington DC. On top of seeing the parade, the concert and some artifacts in the museums that are an important part of American history, it was awesome to be a part of the energy and excitement in the city on Independence Day!