Let your freedom ring this Fourth of July. 

National Mall Fireworks
Credit: Lonely Planet Images/Getty

When we think of the Fourth of July, America's celebration of national independence, four other "F" words come to mind: food, family, fun, and fireworks. And there's no better place to honor our country's official birthday than at the capital of the United States of America, where the spirit of red, white, and blue is on full display all weekend long. From patriotic parades and festivals to Declaration of Independence re-enactments, there are plenty of family-friendly festivities to enjoy, including the jam-packed day ending with the greatest light show on earth.

If you're planning a summer getaway to Virginia or the D.C. area, make sure you're front and center on the Fourth of July for the country's largest and most colorful display. Once you experience an evening of the rockets' red glare cutting across the night sky, while set against the beautiful backdrop of historic monuments and memorials, you'll be glad you made DC a part of your vacation plans.

Here's what you should know about the fireworks showcase on the National Mall, held every year on the day that makes us all proud to be an American:

  • Of course, the best vantage point to take in all the fireworks is on the National Mall, but you can expect this prime spot for viewing to be crowded and busy. The show begins at dark, usually around 9:00 p.m. The fireworks are typically launched from the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, which is truly a sight to behold. Just be sure to pack all your summer essentials for surviving the DC heat and throng of people.
  • Can't bear the crowds and chaos? The great thing about the fireworks celebration is that it's large enough to be enjoyed in alternative viewing areas around DC and in Northern Virginia. In addition to sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument, you can also enjoy all the sights and sounds from rooftop bars and restaurants around DC, the U.S. Capitol, and FDR Memorial, as well as across the Potomac River river in Arlington, Virginia, at the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima Memorial).
  • If you're planning on spending the holiday at home, you can watch all the festivities from the comfort of your own couch, thanks to PBS and NPR. A Capitol Fourth is broadcast live from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol and features various musical acts and entertainment. Tune in to your local PBS channel on Tuesday, July 4, 2017 from 8:00 to 9:30 p.m. ET for, arguably, the best seat in the house.