Things to do in Bay Area

Fourth of July Events in the Bay Area

Fireworks aren’t the only Fourth of July festivities in the Bay Area.

Prepare for a day of fireworks, festivities, and fun in the Bay Area. While you'll find events around every corner, some are more renowned than others. Whether you’re looking for a world-class celebration, a family-friendly event your children will enjoy, or an adults-only pub crawl, it likely exists in this region by the sea.

We’ve cultivated a list of the best things to do in the Bay Area for the Fourth of July, from small-town celebrations to festivities aboard a yacht. Holidays in this region are a bit of a specialty, as its SF Bay Area Halloween events prove.

Fireworks and Major Shows

It’s not the Fourth of July in the Bay Area without fireworks shows. The best ones feature extensive artistic displays synchronized to music.

1. Fireworks at Fisherman’s Wharf

The 4th of July at Fisherman's Wharf is a big affair, and the restaurants, activities, and retailers remain open. Many people opt to spend the day in the neighborhood as they await the evening's festivities.

The fireworks start at 9:30 p.m., launched from PIER 39 and Aquatic Park for an impressive display. For prime viewing, people tend to stay in the Hyde Street Harbor area or watch from PIER 39 or the Pier 43 walkway.

The surrounding traffic gets heavy, so we highly recommend using public transportation. For convenience, the city offers extra public transportation to and from the show, with shuttles to the Ferry Building, Civic Center, and Caltrain.

Photographer: Michelle Oude Maatman

2. Marin County Fair Fireworks

The Marin County Fair offers Independence Day celebrations that carry over several days in early July. It even has nightly fireworks shows over the lagoon. Fair dates frequently overlap with the Fourth of July, making it a local favorite tradition.

Several rides, such as a solar-powered carousel and free-fall towers, with a range of thrill levels, attract crowds of all ages. Most nights, live music takes the stage at 7:30 p.m., but the tunes start pumping even earlier on Independence Day.

We’d fit right in here. For the entire duration of the fair, entertainers roam the grounds. From expert jugglers to wacky performers on stilts, whimsical fun is everywhere—each night at 9:30 p.m., choreographed fireworks launch from three barges over the lagoon.

Pyro Spectaculars, a producer known for providing explosive entertainment at world-class events such as the Olympics and Super Bowl, has produced displays for the fair using cutting-edge science and technology since 1989.

Parades and Festivals

Parades and festivals add to the patriotic fun on Independence Day. Several exist in the Bay Area, but these annual parades are particularly famous.

3. Rose, White & Blue Parade in San Jose

The annual Rose, White & Blue parade and festival in San Jose showcases the city’s patriotism in an all-day affair. A classic car display kicks off the parade, with drivers waving out windows and showing off their best vehicles. Marching bands play catchy melodies while dance groups parade past. Community troupes showcase local spirit.

As the parade ends, local children ride by on bikes decorated in red, white, and blue streamers. The parade route starts near Lincoln High School and ends in the Rose Garden neighborhood. After the parade, a festival carries on the spirit at The Alameda.

4. Sonoma Old Fashioned 4th of July Parade

The 4th of July Parade, Celebration, and Fireworks Show has earned accolades from Travel+Leisure Magazine and Yahoo News as one of the best Independence Day celebrations in the nation. The parade starts at 10 a.m. and treks through the town’s plaza in an all-out display of patriotism.

The rest of the afternoon involves delicious food and drinks and game booths to benefit various nonprofits in the community. The festival ends at 5 p.m., and people move to the field at the Vallejo estate for a 45-minute fireworks show.

Source: City of Sonoma

5. Redwood City 4th of July Parade and Festival

The Fourth of July fanfare starts early in Redwood City. Enjoy a pancake breakfast with the Redwood City Fire Department. At 10 a.m., its famous parade kicks off with a cannon blast.

The parade traverses 1.3 miles through the historic downtown Redwood City area. It’s the largest 4th of July parade in Northern California, and it attracts thousands of tourists looking to celebrate.

Festival activities commence with food and entertainment until 5 p.m. Afterward, a pre-fireworks concert rocks the city, leading up to the 9:30 p.m. fireworks celebration.

Music and Entertainment

Enjoy live music and entertainment alongside fireworks this Fourth of July in the Bay Area.

6. Rotary Club 4th of July Fireworks and Entertainment in San Jose

Partnering with the San Jose Giants, the Rotary Club of San Jose pairs the great American pastime with Independence Day. On July 3 and 4, Excite Ballpark echoes with cheers.

The Giants play a thrilling baseball game on the first day, which concludes with the biggest fireworks show of the season. The next day, San Jose’s Star Spangled Fourth dominates the ballpark with country music and non-baseball entertainment. A second night of fireworks, even larger than the previous, wows the crowds.

Tickets for this event sell out quickly, so buy yours early. If you miss out on tickets, you can watch the fireworks display from surrounding areas.

Unique and Specialty Events

Some Independence Day events in the Bay Area are as unique as the region itself.

7. USS Hornet Flight Deck BBQ

Once a functional aircraft carrier, this ship is a military history museum. While visiting any day is exciting, you'll want to attend the 4th of July at the USS Hornet event, which features a massive festival and barbecue.

With tickets, you can purchase food and beverages aboard a legitimate military vessel. Special tours provide new insight into the ship’s history. Music, dancing, and games keep the energy high as you party the day away. Festivities wrap up at 5 p.m., leaving plenty of time to find a good vantage point for local fireworks.

Source: USS Hornet Sea, Air and Space Museum

8. El Cerrito & worldOne 4th of July Festival

In El Cerrito, the July 4th festival overtakes Cerrito Vista Park in partnership with worldOne. It’s a full-fledged family affair, with something for every interest. Rides and bounce houses engage children all day. A car show, nonstop concerts, and entertainment cater to adult interests.

Food trucks and booths fill El Cerrito Plaza, and a beer and wine garden keeps visitors satisfied. Areas surrounding the festival tend to get congested, and driving to the event is discouraged. However, free bike valet is available, and the BART and bus lines run close to the park for accessible public transportation.

Family-Oriented Activities

Even the youngest members of your family can join in on the festivities at these Fourth of July celebrations.

9. Pleasant Hill 4th of July Celebration

The Pleasant Hill 4th of July Celebration transforms the whole city into an exciting event. The day begins with foot races like the kids' 100-yard dash. The winners take home prizes. At 9:30 a.m., the streets become a mobile party as the parade marches through.

For the rest of the day, Pleasant Hill Park is full of live music, food, and nonstop fun. Children are big fans of the watermelon-eating contest, games, and rides. As night falls, fireworks wrap up the night with a bang.

10. Moraga 4th of July Celebration

Moraga’s July 4 celebration and fireworks bring excitement to Moraga Commons Park from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Get there early to secure a prime spot. Throughout the day, activities such as a dog parade, community-sponsored booths, and inflatable bouncers keep the fun rolling.

Food, wine, and beer booths offer a taste of local favorites. Live entertainment and music play throughout the day at the bandshell leading up to the 9 p.m. fireworks.

Cruises and Waterfront Activities

Enjoy the fireworks in style with cruises and seaside activities.

11. Fourth of July Fireworks Cruise

San Francisco is known for its spectacular fireworks. However, the 4th of July cruises offered by Red and White Fleet provide a new vantage point for a twist on a traditional activity.

You'll depart at 7:45 p.m., and each adult ticket includes two drinks. Until the fireworks begin, you’ll cruise around the bay, where you'll have beautiful views of the region. At 9:30 p.m., you'll have the best seats in town to watch the fireworks explode against the city skyline.

Source: Red and White Fleet

12. Rock the Yacht: 4th of July Party Cruise

Elevate your Independence Day experience on a party cruise with Empress Yacht. With three decks for entertainment, you’ll wait for the big show in style as the luxurious yacht sails around San Francisco Bay.

Get out on the dance floor as a live DJ plays bouncing tunes. When hunger strikes, you can indulge in complimentary appetizers and an open bar. The captain sails to a prime viewing destination for the fireworks. You'll get amazing views on this cruise as the fireworks splash against the San Francisco sky.

Sporting and Outdoor Activity

Enjoy some old-fashioned athletic fun before jetting off to local festivities. If you’re not in the racing mood, try some of the best hikes in the Bay Area instead.

13. July 4th Freedom Run in San Francisco

Whether you join the race to run or stand on the sidelines to cheer, the July 4th Freedom Run in San Francisco is a beloved tradition. Afterward, indulge in barbecues before marveling at the fireworks. Several races set off in waves, ranging from a mile-long Family Fun Run to half-marathons.

Each wave accommodates 15-20 participants, so participation slots fill quickly. This race has no timing system, encouraging newbies and seasoned runners to join. You’ll get a premium running shirt and a medal for finishing the race.

Eating and Drinking

The Fourth of July presents a prime opportunity to savor good food and drinks at these venues.

14. Fourth of July Pub Crawl & Hot Dog Eating Contest

What better way to enjoy Independence Day than to join a pub crawl and hot dog-eating contest? Put on your most patriotic attire for this event. It doesn't matter if it's an American flag jacket or a wacky outfit that resembles the Founding Fathers' attire - this is a day of indulgence.

The event begins at Mayes Oyster House, where you'll receive a wristband and map. You'll make your way through several bars around Polk Street before moving on to the pie and hot dog eating contests. Both are impressive affairs featuring competitive eaters. We love to come out and cheer on the contestants.

Live DJs set the mood, and participating bars offer steep discounts on food and drinks.

15. California's Great America's Fourth of July Celebration

California's Great America’s Fourth of July Celebration synchronizes a phenomenal fireworks display. It's all set to patriotic music in the heart of Northern California’s only joint aquatic and amusement park.

The day starts with leisurely fun, floating on the lazy river or tackling daring roller coasters. Rides for every thrill level make it a great family destination for fireworks and fun.

As the park stops ride operations, grab some fair food, such as funnel cakes or popcorn, and settle in for the fireworks. The best seats are in front of the Flight Deck or Redwood Amphitheater.

Source: California’s Great America

Celebrate Independence Day With Spectacular Events Across the Bay Area

The Fourth of July is a whole sensory experience and an opportunity to show off patriotic flair. For entertainment of a different kind, see us. Our shows in the Bay Area offer compelling storylines told through heartfelt performances.

Cutting-edge special effects and a dreamy score accompany our acrobats as they perform gravity-defying tricks that stretch human limits. Immerse yourself in a whimsical world where anything is possible.

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