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DC Fireworks with Little Ones: worth it or stressful nightmare?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

We are moving away from the Baltimore area shortly so this will be our last 4th of July here.  It seems a shame to miss out on the fireworks at our nation's capitol since it is unlikely that we will ever be here again for them. But I'm really nervous about the logistics of going down there with my 4.5 and 1.5 year olds in tow, plus I'm pregnant and not always feeling the best.  Does anyone have any advice for the easiest and most stress free way to see the fireworks live?  Where to park and take the metro?  Where to sit?  When to get there?  What to expect, etc.?  Should we opt for an alternative location like Virginia or the Capitol Building (where there is a symphony concert) instead of on the Mall?


I've been reading online and see that parking is extremely limited and there are lots of street closures.  Even the Smithsonian metro stop is closed prior to the fireworks and reopens afterward.  It also mentions that it usually takes 1.5-2 hours to clear the Mall afterward.  It appears the fireworks begin around 9:15pm... how long do they last?   We were really hoping not to have to "stake out" a spot super early in the day, but get there at a reasonable time and drive home to Baltimore afterward.   Is this delusional?    Will we be squished in a sea of people and not really be able to do anything but look up from our little spot to see them overhead as opposed to the fantastic views I always see of them flying over the reflecting pool, the Washington Monument or the Capitol Building?  


I guess I'm trying to figure out if this is realistic or if we would spend a lot of time and energy getting there and back and be disappointed with the actual show.  Tips, suggestions and advice are all greatly appreciated!!!  Thank you!!

post #2 of 7

Reading this what comes to mind is "is it worth it?"

You lo's will likely not remember it (maybe the 4.5 -- maybe)  and I am thinking that the logistics are daunting.  I have never gone down for fireworks but I have gone for other huge events (swearing-in ceremonies, various big marches) and it is always very challenging.  I also went to DC during a summer when I was pregnant, with two lo's and hubby and it was just exhausting.  And that was just to look at the dinosaurs, visit President Lincoln and then get back to the metro parking lot to drive home.


So in order to evaluate, I would wonder: Will there be other adult help?  Do you enjoy outings with your kids, when they are difficult?  Is going to DC the big deal?   Would you be satisfied with navigating closer to home, say, at Federal Hill/Fells Point, where there are some nice fireworks?


FTR, I have heard they are quite nice in DC.  But also, I would not do it myself.  I am just not the type to go through a bunch of crowds/navigating traffic with little kids, though!   To me, the "experience" would not be worth it.

post #3 of 7

Hi!  I have intense and wonderful childhood memories of seeing the fireworks on the Mall -- but the whole experience has changed a LOT since then.  We used to walk up in the afternoon with a giant picnic basket, blanket, portable radio, frisbee etc and hang out all evening -- back then you could get away with wading in the fountains, running all around the Capitol building, sitting on the Washington Monument grounds, etc.  Oh, the nostalgia!  happytears.gif Now there are fixed entry points to the Mall area, security checks, and I think you are limited in the items you can bring in.  You will need to stake out a place to sit early.  And if you are driving in it's a huge hassle both getting in and getting out and it will be a long night.  And humid.  And dark.  And crowded.  And do I need to mention the port o potty situation?   If my kids were older we would still try it, because there's something magical about fireworks in DC, to me.  But with little kids, much less being pregnant?  Total nightmare, imo, unless you are intrepid travelers and adventurers and do this sort of thing all the time, or have a mellow spirit and don't get worried about hassles.

(We go to the Ft Meade display, which is open to the public, free parking, kiddie rides, food vendors, and you can bring in as big a picnic basket as you like and even a tent for shade!)




post #4 of 7

This might be a hike, and I don't know, might be just as bad as DC, but in Sharpsburg, MD over Antietam Battlefield, they set off fireworks on July 2 - it's the same company that does it for DC, it's were they "test" them for the DC show. There is only one way in and out, so traffic might be terrible, but you can sit anywhere, stop along to route to eat or use the bathroom, and leave easily early if you need to. You might want to ask around and see if that one is as bad as DC

post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks ladies!  Your sentiments do seem to be the consensus.  I do not like hassles and do tend to get stressed when things are not going according to plan.  Plus my 17 month old tends to scream in the car after dark when he's tired.  The port o potty situation was not something I had thought of and that is an excellent point for me and my 4.5 year old.  Sigh...  Well maybe closer to home then.

post #6 of 7

Another alternative closer to home might be the show downtown at the dockside Annapolis on the 4th. We've done this several times as a family, and even with little ones, have enjoyed it! The crowd is surprisingly small, parking is fairly accessible, and people just bring their own chairs to sit in. There is a parade at 6:30, Naval Academy Band playing down by the docks at 8, and fireworks after dark over the harbor. We don't always stay for the whole show as we like to get out before everyone else does. 

post #7 of 7

It is actually pretty easy to get down there by metro.  If you do decide to go, go later and try to get there 15-20 minutes before, and then leave fast.  You can always find space to sit


However, the fireworks themselves are pretty big and VERY loud.  Personally I think it would be too much for a 1.5 yo and maybe even for the 4.5 yo.  I have not yet taken my 5 year old down there, but when I do we will surely be using earplugs.

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