When the weather is good on the Fourth of July, San Francisco typically celebrates with fireworks, parades, specialty cruises, live music, and old-fashioned family fun. Without a doubt, the San Francisco Bay Area knows how to celebrate America's birthday the right way. Here's where you can go to see some amazing fireworks displays, along with some of the best activities and offerings in and around San Francisco on Independence Day. From morning parades to nighttime fireworks shows, this all-American holiday gets top billing in the City by the Bay.
Many of these events have been altered or canceled in 2020, so be sure to check the websites of the organizers for more information and updates.
San Francisco Fireworks
As of June 19, these events have not yet been rescheduled or officially canceled for 2020.
San Francisco usually sets off fireworks from two locations—the end of the Municipal Pier in Aquatic Park along the bay and from barges north of Pier 39. The shows start at about 9:30 p.m. and go on for about 30 minutes. For the best views from land, pick a spot near Aquatic Park at Jefferson and Hyde Streets, the Cannery, Ghirardelli Square, Fisherman’s Wharf, or the Coit Tower.
The Fourth of July fireworks draw tens of thousands of people each year, and although the above areas are the best viewing spots, they can get crowded quickly. If you'd like to keep your viewing a little more low-key, the Crissy Field Overlook and Inspiration Point in the Presidio also offer quieter, worthwhile views. Bernal Heights Park is also a favorite among locals because you can put down a blanket and watch the fireworks from afar with the glittering lights of downtown to complete the San Francisco portrait.
Bear in mind that the Golden Gate Bridge pedestrian walkways close at 8 p.m. in July, so you won't be able to watch the fireworks from here. However, you can get a good view of the fireworks from Sausalito, which may be a better option for those coming from or staying in the North Bay. It can get very crowded here too, but you will not have to fight the Golden Gate Bridge traffic to get home.
As of June 19, these events have not yet been rescheduled for 2020. Check the wharf's website for updates.
Fisherman Wharf's Fourth of July celebration takes place on Pier 39 and typically lasts for the full day, with performances from both original musicians and local cover bands. There are also plenty of family-oriented activities to keep spirits buzzing and not to mention, you'll have a prime view of the bay for the city's splendid fireworks display.
The city of Sausalito has canceled its Independence Day celebrations for 2020.
Sausalito typically 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. Afterward, crowds gather at the city's Dunphy Park for live music, dancing, food, and old-fashioned games like tug-of-war and an egg toss. The evening finale takes place at nearby Gabrielson Park has more live music and food trucks, topped off with the city’s fireworks show at 9 p.m.
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. The next time the July 4 fireworks are scheduled, you can peruse the different cruise packages, many of which include food and drink.
- Red and White Fleet offers multiple cruises that leave from Fisherman's Wharf in time to see the fireworks on July 4.
- Hornblower's premier dinner cruise serves up a four-course meal, has an open bar that includes champagne, and features 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.
- The Blue & Gold Fleet fireworks cruise has six boats that leave from Pier 39 and 41. You could also cruise 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 five-hour dinner and fireworks cruise on their 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.
- Adventure Cat Sailing Charters' runs two-hour cruises for the Fourth of July. 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.
The 2020 season of the San Francisco Symphony has been canceled, so there will be no Fourth of July concert this year.
Normally, you can head on down to the Shoreline Amphitheatre in the South Bay to take in the sounds of the San Francisco Symphony at their annual outdoor concert on Independence Day. Bring a picnic blanket or purchase a seat ticket, so you can sit back to harmonic tunes that range from the Star Wars film score to a salute to the Armed Forces. The performance always caps off with fireworks grand finale.