San Francisco’s July 4th Fireworks show is a spectacular display that can be seen from many different places throughout the city. Launched from two different spots on the waterfront, Pier 39 and the Municipal Pier at nearby Aquatic Park, the fireworks start once twilight drains from the sky around 9:30 p.m. Grab your friends and family and bundle up to watch the grand display.
As longtime fireworks fans know all too well, Karl the Fog is always creeping up, so we’re offering a range of spots to watch the action. If your view does get obstructed, well, just accept that the fog sometimes gets a front-row seat. Here’s our full list, both inside the city and around the Bay Area.
In San Francisco
If you’re looking shove your way to the very front, Fisherman’s Wharf is the spot. Grab a clam chowder bread bowl from Boudin Bakery (and a warm jacket) to enjoy the 30-minute show! This is a perennially, popular tourist attraction so if there’s one place to show up early, this would be it. (Hint, hint: Consider taking transit.)
Because fewer people know about it, the recently opened Francisco Park in Russian Hill overlooking Ghirardelli Square and Aquatic Park is an ideal place to watch the show. This 4.5-acre green space features a dog park, community garden and a playground, but for the evening’s entertainment, it’s the green lawn you’ll want to be sitting on.
The second-highest summit in the city, Twin Peaks is the ultimate in panoramic views of San Francisco. Closed to vehicular traffic during the lockdown phase of Covid, the winding road up from Diamond Heights is now open to cars, making Twin Peaks a popular lookout to enjoy the fireworks once again. But be warned: Parking is scarce, so it may fill up quickly.
With postcard-worthy views of the Golden Gate Bridge and plenty of lush green lawn to spread out on, Crissy Field is sure to draw a crowd on Independence Day. Bring hot chocolate, some friends, and a matching set of deck chairs for them to feel cool in. While the Fort Point Beer Company’s nearby Presidio Brewery isn’t open to the public, nothing’s stopping you from picking up a sixer of KSA on your way to the waterfront.
Some swear by Twin Peaks. For others, it’s Alamo Square. But the best way to take in the San Francisco skyline from within the city limits may actually be a short ferry ride away. Find a spot along the Avenue of the Palms on Treasure Island. Enjoy dinner and drinks at Aracely’s on the north end of the island. Or grab a beer at Woods Island Club on Clipper Cove.
Bernal Heights Park
This park sits in the heart of one of the quirkiest and most unappreciated neighborhoods in the city. Not only is there a designated parking lot — and a frequently repainted rock — but you can also clamber around that unusual radio-tower at the summit and see 360-degree views. Bernal Peak is a bit of a hike to get to, but the sights are incredibly worth it. Before the trek, stop by United Dumplings for some warm pork xiao long bao to indulge yourself at the peak.
Elsewhere in the Bay Area
Drive up the hills of Marin County,overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay. You can find many turnouts to watch the firework show from here, if you park down at the bottom lot and walk up to the viewpoint. The Kirby Cove trail is not too far from the viewpoint, taking you to a secluded beach — although you may want to be careful walking through in the dark. (It may be useful to bring a flashlight.) The Point Bonita Lighthouse can also be reached via the headlands, and while the L:ighthouse may be closed on the Fourth the trail overlooking the Bay will be open.
In the backyard of San Francisco the waterfront town of Sausalito is filled with crab houses and other places to eat, like Bar Bocce on the main drag, Bridgeway. If you would like a car-free night, you can always catch the ferry from San Francisco to make your way over. While you’re waiting for the fireworks to start, grab some Lappert’s Ice Cream, a local favorite — try the Hawaiian sea salt caramel! — and catch the fireworks as they reflect on the water.
10 Ave. of the Flags, San Rafael
11 a.m. - 11 p.m. | $20+
Marin County is back with its annual county fair after missing the last two years due to Covid. Filled with Ferris wheels, funnel cakes and farm animals, Marin County Civic Center puts on a fireworks exhibition of its own each night. If you’d like to come just for the fireworks, you can watch them from a duck pond that surrounds the fairgrounds. Bring a blanket and claim your spot to enjoy the fireworks, set to start at 9:30 p.m. — but make sure to come early, as it can get crowded.
Benicia Waterfront, 1st St.
Sometimes, even Fourth of July fireworks can feel ordinary, so maybe a drone show the night before is your thing this year? So drive over the Bay (or take the Vallejo ferry) to Benicia on the eve of the Fourth of July instead. Three bands, all playing in different venues and all within walking distances from each other anchor a light show performed by America's Got Talent alum Verge Aero who will fill the sky alongside the water.
And if you do want to see fireworks, don't worry: The North Bay city still has you covered, hosting their fireworks spectacle the very next night in the same location.
1 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View
8:00 p.m. | $60+
The Shoreline Amphitheatre is an iconic outdoor concert venue that has hosted artists from many different genres. This Monday night, the San Francisco Symphony takes the stage with conductor Edwin Outwater, along with vocalist Rosena Hill Jackson, to perform everything from The Star-Spangled Banner to Disney classics. This Fourth of July concert closes out with a fireworks spectacular some 40 miles from San Francisco. Remember: The best part of Shoreline is the lawn, where you can bring a blanket and dance around.
Jack London Square, 540 Water St.
7:30-10:30 p.m. | $125
Have you ever wanted to go onto a presidential yacht? The USS Potomac, originally a ship in the U.S. Coast Guard, also served as the presidential yacht for Franklin Delano Roosevelt — and now, this “Floating White House” is yours for the night. During this three-hour boat ride leaving from the Port of Oakland, history buffs can enjoy a narrated guide to all the sights you’ll cruise past, plus (of course) the fireworks display to top off the night.
Leo Ryan Park, 650 Shell Blvd.
9 a.m. - 9:45 p.m
A full slate of activities takes over Leo Ryan Park in Foster City this Independence Day. A family-friendly event, the day is set to start with a pancake breakfast followed by a concert in the amphitheatre, a dog parade and pedal boats and kayaks to rent, culminating with a fireworks production over the lagoon. So make sure to bring Mr. Woofers along and sign him up to strut.
Questions, comments or concerns about this article may be sent to [email protected]