It's been a seriously long 18 months and we're all ready celebrate the land of the free—boy, does quarantine put that in fresh perspective.
While some annual Fourth of July events have been cancelled (Shoreline) or are going virtual (Marin County Fair), there will be plenty of fireworks from San Francisco to San Jose, including the annual big display over SF Bay. Here's where to see the fireworks—plus catch special July Fourth concerts, pub crawls, and family celebrations—around the Bay Area.
Where to Watch Fourth of July Fireworks in 2021 — San Francisco Bay Area
San Francisco Bay
The annual fireworks show over San Francisco Bay is back on for 2021! Find your own perch at locations including Angel or Treasure Island, Bernal Heights Park, Twin Peaks, or the Berkeley Marina. Or, head to one of these classic public events.
Blue & Gold Fleet: Onboard you'll find music, dancing, booze (except on the 8:10pm family boat), and front-row seats to the fireworks over SF Bay. Sailings from Pier 39 and Pier 41 begin at 7:55pm. // Tickets ($95/adults, $85/kids age five to 16) are available at blueandgoldfleet.com.
Fisherman's Wharf: For the classic crowded touristy vibe, park yourself in Aquatic Park, Pier 39, or Ghirardelli Square where all retailers will be open for perusing before the evening fireworks display. // Look for additional details at fishermanswharf.org.
Sunset and Fireworks Sail: From Sausalito, board the schooner Freda B for a bay sail with views as good as they get. Bring cash or credit cards to purchase California craft beers, Napa and Sonoma wines, and Salt Point cocktails from the deck bar. // 6:45pm to 10:30pm Sunday, July 4; board at 100 Bay St. (Sausalito); tickets ($250/person) are available at Eventbrite.
Petaluma's annual July 4th event typically features live music and eats from local vendors. Though those activities are on pause this year due to Covid-19, you can still catch the fireworks—with a caveat. The spectacle will be staged at Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds as always but the venue will be closed to spectators. Special efforts are being made to make the fireworks display higher and brighter than ever so residents may view it from their homes and parks in surrounding neighborhoods. // For more info, go to cityofpetaluma.org.
For drive-in style festivities head to the Concord Pavilion for Pyro Spectacular's award-winning fireworks show set to music. Gates open at 7pm; fireworks at dark. // 2000 Kirker Pass Rd. (Concord); tickets ($25/vehicle) are available at concordjuly4th.com.
This year's Rose, White & Blue Parade marries wellness (the event kicks off with a 10:30am Pilates class), a classic car show, bike party, food trucks, and loads of live entertainment. Afterward, head to Downtown San Jose's Discovery Meadow for entertainment beginning at 5pm and a 10pm fireworks show with the Rotary Club. // Rose, White & Blue Parade is 11am to 3pm; parade begins at Lincoln High School on Dana Ave. For the schedule, route and parking information, visit rwbsj.org. Rotary Fireworks at Discovery Meadow, rotaryfireworks.org
A tradition since 1876, the Morgan Hill Freedom Fest is an all-day celebration featuring a parade, street dancing, a 5K run, car show, and evening fireworks on the gren. // Free to attend; for more information, visit morganhillfreedomfest.com.
Fourth of July Concerts, Pub Crawls + More Around the Bay Area
The San Francisco Symphony will take the stage at Stern Grove Festival on Sunday, July 4th.
San Francisco Symphony at Stern Grove Festival
If drinking yourself silly and stuffing your face with processed meat isn't your jam, march to a more elegant beat at Stern Grove, where Edwin Outwater will conduct the SF Symphony in its annual festival performance set, featuring a range of music including Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" and Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever." As always, BYO food and drink but remember to plan ahead—advance reservations are required for this year's fest. // Concert begins at 2pm on Sunday, July 4 and is free to attend (picnic tables may be reserved for $1,500); Stern Grove (Parkside), sterngrove.org
SF Pub Crawl + Hot Dog Eating Contest
If you're staying local for the Fourth, make a whole weekend of it with CrawlSF, which is hosting two days of bar hopping with DJs, dancing, and drink specials at the likes of McTeague's Saloon, Lush Lounge, Soda Popinski's, Wreck Room, and more. The two-day event culminates with the hot dog eating contest, which you can sign up for here. // 2pm to 10pm Saturday, July 3 and 4pm to 10pm Sunday, July 4; Lower Polk St. (TenderNob / Nob Hill); tickets $5-$15) are available at Eventbrite. Find more details at july4sf.com.
Hot Dog! A Drag Show
Dogs meet drag on the rooftop at Oasis during Media Meltdown's Fourth of July bash with performances by Franzia Kafka, Piranha, Snaxx, Luke Modelo, and Obsidienne Obsurd. // 6pm Sunday, July 4 at Oasis, 298 11th St. (SoMa), tickets ($7) on eventbrite.com
Imagine:Nation—Songs of Freedom and Celebration
With a theme of world unity after so many months in isolation, this pre-sunset, open-air concert at Brooklyn Basin will feature polyrhythmic beats with flavors of West Africa and Brazil by Wade Peterson and Bobby Wallace along with Malian kora player Karamo Susso and creative guitarist Nicco Tyson. Fresh eats, wine and beer will be available from Rocky's Market. // 6pm to 8pm at Rocky's Market Brooklyn Basin, 288 9th Ave. (Oakland); tickets ($20/person) are available at Eventbrite.
Marin County Fair
No Joan Jett for us this year (though you can catch her with The Blackhearts at Stern Grove on August 1st)—the annual Marin County Fair will be 100 percent virtual in 2021, including the fireworks. Expect online versions of the usual juried art and photography exhibition, culinary showcase, video of past music performances, and dance floor. // For more info, go to marinfair.org.
USS Hornet's Independence Day Celebration
Wave the flag aboard the USS Hornet all day long on the Fourth. You can kick it to DJ beats on the flight deck, get food from Oakland Smokehouse BBQ, and see exhibits in the museum before disembarking to catch the fireworks at your viewpoint of choice. // 10am to 6pm; 707 West Hornet Ave. (Alameda), uss-hornet.org