The San Francisco Bay area does July 4th right with two locations setting off a synchronized fireworks display, parades, cruises, live music, and lots of old-fashioned family fun.
Find out where you need to go for the fireworks displays and some of the best activities and offerings in and around San Francisco on Independence Day 2018. From morning parades to nighttime fireworks shows—this all-American holiday gets top billing by the City by the Bay.
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San Francisco Fireworks
San Francisco sets off fireworks from two locations—the end of the Municipal Pier and from barges north of Pier 39. The shows start at about 9:30 p.m. and go on for about 30 minutes. The best places to watch from land are Aquatic Park at Jefferson and Hyde streets, the Cannery, Ghirardelli Square, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Coit Tower.
This event draws tens of thousands of people each year. If you'd like to avoid huge crowds, the Crissy Field Overlook, and Inspiration Point in the Presidio offer great views. Bernal Heights Park is also a favorite among locals; you can put down a blanket and watch the fireworks from afar with the glittering lights of downtown to complete the San Francisco portrait.
The Golden Gate Bridge pedestrian walkways close at 9 p.m., so consider another spot. You can get a good view of the fireworks from Sausalito. This is a good option for those coming from or staying in the north bay. It can be very crowded here, but at least you will not have to fight the Golden Gate Bridge traffic to get home.
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Celebration at Fisherman's Wharf
The Fourth of July 2018 celebration starts off at Pier 39 with music by the band, WJM, on the Entrance Plaza Stage from 1:30 to 2:15 p.m. Tainted Love, the local favorite 1980s cover band, takes over from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. At 9:30 p.m., you'll have a primo view of the bay for the city's splendid fireworks display. The fireworks show is produced by Pyro Spectaculars by Souza.
You can also head over to Aquatic Park to check out free music by the Killer Queens, the all-female Queen tribute band at 6 p.m., and grab a spot there to view the fireworks.
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Sausalito hosts a three-part Fourth of July celebration with a parade from 10 a.m to noon that includes floats, bands, clowns, classic cars, and balloons. The parade starts at Second and Main streets and ends at Caledonia and Bee streets. After the parade, at Dunphy Park at noon, there will be live music, dancing, food, and old-fashioned games like tug-of-war and an egg toss. The finale from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Gabrielson Park has more live music and food trucks, topped off with the city’s fireworks show at 9 p.m.
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Fourth of July Fireworks Cruises
One of the best views of San Francisco's two fireworks displays over San Francisco Bay is from the water. Take your choice of cruise packages that offer snacks and drinks, a full-course meal, or no food at all. Ticket prices vary.
- Red and White Fleet offers two cruises that leave from Pier 43 1/2 in Fisherman's Wharf at 7:45 and 8:15. The cruise typically lasts 2 1/2 hours. Both cruises offer the same experience—the San Francisco skyline at night, Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge, and prime fireworks viewing.
- Hornblower's premier dinner cruise serves up a four-course meal, has an open bar that includes Champagne, and live entertainment. You leave from Pier 3, Hornblower Landing, or you can take a Hornblower cruise from Berkeley for the convenience of departing from the East Bay.
- Blue & Gold Fleet fireworks cruise has six boats that leave from Pier 39 and 41 between 8 p.m. and 8:40 p.m. that include family packages. Or, cruise on over to Angel Island where you can enjoy live music, food, and drinks, and an unforgettable view of the fireworks show.
- Commodore Cruises offers a 5-hour dinner and fireworks cruise on the Cabernet Sauvignon luxury yacht that sets off from Alameda. You'll be wined and dined and treated to dancing as you watch the fireworks from a prime location on the bay.
- If sailing's your thing, you'll like Adventurecat's Fourth of July 2-hour offering. You'll take off from Pier 39 at 8:45 p.m. to get in position for the fireworks. You will be treated to a couple of drinks and hors-d'oeuvres as you watch the fireworks with the sails flapping in the bay breeze.