If you’re looking to celebrate the 4th of July in San Francisco, you’re in luck. This city knows how to make this patriotic holiday memorable with one-of-a-kind fireworks shows, parades, cruises and so much. Follow our guide to a San Francisco 4th of July to discover the best ways to enjoy this classic American holiday.
San Francisco 4th of July Fireworks
Fireworks and the 4th of July go hand-in-hand. I mean, is it really an Independence Day celebration if you don’t see sparkly bursts exploding in the sky? (The answer is no.) With that in mind, here are the best 4th of July displays.
The city of San Francisco sets off fireworks from two locations: the end of Municipal Pier and the barges north of Pier 39. The shows begin at 9:30 PM. The show can easily be seen from most central locations but there are a few prime viewing spots. They include:
- Aquatic Park
- Ghirardelli Square
- The Cannery
- Fisherman’s Wharf
- Coit Tower
- Angel Island
Less crowded viewing locations include:
- Crissy Field Overlook
- Inspiration Point
- Bernal Heights Park
Useful Tip: Take public transportation to your chosen viewing area is possible as parking is a bit of a nightmare. Plus, surrounding streets close to cars several hours in advance of the fireworks show.
Celebration at Pier 39
For families looking for a full day of patriotic celebrations, look no further than Pier 39. Obviously, there’s a lot to do at Pier 39 any day of the week but the fun really ramps up on the 4th of July. Explore the strange and bizarre at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! then schmooze with some of your favorite celebs at Madame Tussauds before exploring life under the sea at Aquarium of the Bay. Afterward, enjoy soft rock classics performed by local cover band Mustache Love – Yacht Rock Explosion from 3-6 PM before settling in to watch the epic fireworks display at 9:30 PM.
Useful Tip: Buy tickets for Ripley’s Museum and Madame Tussauds online to skip the lines and save money.
The quaint seaside town of Sausalito marks America’s Independence Day with an all-day event. From 10 AM to Noon, a parade with floats, bands, clowns, cars and more marches through town. Then, at Noon, Dunphy Park hosts live music, dancing, food and old-fashioned games like an egg toss. The final event of the day is held at Gabrielson Park, where more live music is performed before a firework show at 9 PM.
Useful Tip: Take the ferry from San Francisco to Sausalito so you won’t have to worry about parking.
Angel Island Fireworks
Want to enjoy San Francisco 4th of July fireworks but escape the crowds? If your answer is yes, book a trip to Angel Island to enjoy live music, dancing, delicious food and beverages, and epic views of the fireworks over the Bay. Your ferry ticket for this event includes ferry ride and round-trip tram ride from Ayala Cove to Battery Ledyard (fireworks viewing area).
Keep in mind, Angel Island fireworks are free to watch. It’s the ferry service ticket and entertainment that costs money ($73/adults, $52/kids ages 5-11). The ferry departs at 6 pm from PIER 41/39. Boarding begins at 5:20 pm and departs promptly at 10:50 pm
Useful Tip: Book your Angel Island Fireworks tickets in advance as this event does sell out.
San Francisco 4th of July Fireworks Cruises
If the land-based viewing options aren’t sparking your interest, I’m sure these cruises will do the trick. And, let’s face it: some of the best, unobstructed views of San Francisco fireworks are from the water. The following are some of the best cruise options available:
Blue & Gold Fleet Fireworks Cruise
Six Blue & Gold boats cruise out to the bay to watch the heralded San Diego 4th of July Fireworks. Departures are from 8-8:40 PM, ensuring everyone has enough time to get settled for the show.
Red & White Fleet Fireworks Cruise
Alternatively, the Red & White Fleet hosts a fireworks cruise departing from Pier 43 ½. There are four boats scheduled to sail for the 4th of July fireworks show, so book your cruise tickets early!
Hornblower’s Premier Dinner Cruise
If you’d like a dinner and a show, choose this cruise option. In addition to a spectacular vantage point for the fireworks, your ticket includes a four-course meal, open bar with champagne and live entertainment.
Commodore Dinner & Fireworks Cruise
Set off on a luxury yacht with Commodore for a unique fireworks cruise, which departs from Alameda and features dinner, drinks, and dancing. Boarding begins at 6:30 PM and the main event is from 7:00-11:00 PM.
Adventurecat’s 4th of July Sail
If a sailboat is more your style than a cruise ship, choose this option. Departing at 8:45 PM from Pier 39, guests are treated to drinks and appetizers as they watch the dazzling San Diego 4th of July fireworks.
U.S.S. Hornet Museum
For a patriotic celebration that also includes a bit of American History, plan on attending the U.S.S. Hornet Museum event. The party includes live music, family-friendly activities, food, drinks, and, of course, a fantastic view of the Bay area fireworks.
Useful Tip: A useful tip that pertains to all cruise related excursions—bring a jacket. Even though it’s July, it can get a bit chilly on the water.
How Will You Celebrate a San Francisco 4th of July?
With endless ways to celebrate, it’s impossible to spend the 4th of July being bored in San Francisco. Which events do you plan on attending? Let us know!
Know of other great ways to spend the 4th of July in San Francisco? Share your travel advice below.