The biggest question surrounding this year’s Independence Day celebrations has nothing to do with checkpoints or protests, and it affects people all over Washington: Will moving the fireworks’ launch area from the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool to West Potomac Park change the city’s best vantage points? After all, many more people watch the annual fireworks display from rooftop decks and other high ground than from the Mall itself.
Regardless of whether the view changes, Washington bar operators are sticking to their usual plans for the Fourth, offering a mix of free, come-as-you-are rooftop events and big-ticket parties with open bars and unrestricted views.
For clean views of the fireworks, there’s nothing better than watching from the middle of the Potomac River. The Boomerang Party Yacht — a two-level boat outfitted with a bar, dance floor and rooftop deck — offers superior monument views on its weekend cruises from Georgetown’s Washington Harbour, and July 4 should be no different. Tickets for the three-hour tour include an open bar, snacks and a DJ. 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. Board at 3100 K St. NW. $110.
The Brixton has become a U Street destination on July 4: It starts with a day party in the sun on the rooftop deck and morphs into a fireworks viewing party, followed by a dance party on the bar’s second floor. This year’s event benefits Martha’s Table: Donate five nonperishable food items and you’ll get a free beer; for 10 items, you can have a hot dog, too. 1 p.m. 901 U St. NW. Free.
The Cambria Hotel in Shaw flies under the radar, but its rooftop has great views of downtown Washington. The party includes a DJ spinning “an eclectic mix of dance music.” 7 to 11 p.m. 899 O St. NW. $40.
The Daylight crew’s DJs specialize in golden-era hip-hop, sultry R&B and thumping soulful house. They’re taking over the rooftop at City Winery on July 4, so expect a cookout vibe with food specials, frozen drinks and plenty of dancing, followed by fireworks viewing. 5 to 11 p.m. 1350 Okie St. NE. Free with RSVP.
Did you know there’s a great view of the fireworks hiding in the heart of Chinatown? Crimson’s rooftop bar at the Pod Hotel, which has views of the Washington Monument, hosts a free, no-ticket-needed July 4 party that includes live music and discounted buckets of beer. 1 p.m. to midnight. 627 H St. NW. Free.
Some parties start an hour or two before the fireworks and shut down an hour or two later. Doors at the Graham Hotel in Georgetown open at noon, and guests won’t be kicked out until 2 a.m. Among the attractions are unlimited food from a backyard barbecue (served until 9 p.m.); a DJ (spinning until 8 p.m.); free snowballs with an optional boozy upgrade (3 to 8 p.m.); and special cocktails and beer or seltzer buckets. Noon to 2 a.m. 1075 Thomas Jefferson St. NW. $100.
U Street’s Hawthorne has a big advantage over much of the competition on Independence Day: a glass rooftop that can slide open or close depending on the weather. The rooftop fills up quickly on July 4, thanks to excellent views looking toward downtown, a DJ spinning party tunes and annual food and drink deals. (Last year included $5 beers and $6 mixed drinks.) Get there early or you might be stuck on the wrong floor. 2 p.m. to 4 a.m. 1336 U St. NW. Free.
One of the big winners of the fireworks move could be the bars at the Wharf, which are now closer to the launch site. Officina, which has one of the top rooftops at the Wharf, is throwing an “Italian BBQ” with a menu of roasted porchetta, seafood, salads and a gnocchi bar. 4 to 10 p.m. 1120 Maine Ave. SW. $125.
Tiki TNT, the Wharf’s tiki bar and rum distillery, has an unobstructed view at the northern end of the development. Tickets include a cookout-style dinner — a burger, a hot dog, macaroni salad, a bag of chips and a choice of drink — and a cash bar. Only the rooftop bar will be open after 6 p.m. 7 to 10 p.m. 1130 Maine Ave. SW. $45-$65.
With its perch across the street from the White House and the Treasury Building, the W’s rooftop bar offers front-row-quality views of the Mall on July 4, with prices to match. A $275 ticket to the annual Boom with a View party gets you in the door and includes food stations and a “limited” open bar, as well as tax and gratuity, while a table for eight costs $3,000. 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. 515 15th St. NW. $275-$3,000.
A day-long party on the Washington Channel features live music on multiple stages and piers, with restaurants, bars and shops open. For free fireworks viewing, try to get a spot on the Transit Pier, located across from the Anthem, or the long District Pier. Noon to 8 p.m. Free.