San Diego is a great place to be on the 4th of July for fireworks. The city puts on a dazzling display each year above the bay as part of the Big Bay Boom fireworks celebration, which is one of the biggest firework displays in the country. Thanks to its location and size, there are multiple prime locations to watch the Big Bay Boom extravaganza. The Big Bay Boom isn't the only fireworks display in San Diego County, though, and depending on your location and the scene you're looking for, there are other options that may be a better fit, both by the beach and inland. Here are the 10 best places to watch some fireworks burst in the sky on Independence Day, plus one secret spot at the end that lets you watch multiple firework displays.
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This isn't just a popular fireworks-watching spot, it's also a popular day spot to celebrate the 4th of July. Mission Bay has a long waterfront lined with picnic spots, which are up for grabs on Independence Day. If you have a big group you need to get there early -- like before 8 am early -- to secure a spot, especially if you want one with enough room to set up a volleyball net or other fun 4th of July games. Even smaller groups will want to probably get there at some point in the morning. The later it gets in the day the more traffic and parking will be a hassle, though luckily Mission Bay does have a lot of onsite parking (but it will fill by the evening). Your early morning planning will be worth it, though, because you'll have a fun day in the gorgeous San Diego sunshine (unless it's one of the rare summers that June Gloom extends into July) and a perfect spot to watch the Big Bay Boom fireworks once night falls.
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Top of the Hyatt is the impressive lounge located at the top of the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Diego on the 40th floor. It boasts impressive harbor and San Diego skyline views and on the 4th of July, the views are especially amazing. The Big Bay Boom fireworks seem to burst right next to the windows and it's a visually awesome way to see fireworks -- from up in the sky instead of down below. The booths and tables in the lounge can be reserved in the evening for a fun event package with unlimited drinks, food, and great firework views. Standing with a drink to watch the fireworks is allowed (as long as you're not blocking the views of the tables), but even the space for that gets limited fast as the bar area isn't huge.
Also, if you need a place to sleep after watching the fireworks downtown, the Hyatt is a good option.
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You can also see the Big Bay Fireworks Show from Seaport Village, located right next to the harbor. Bring a blanket or chairs and pick a spot along the harbor to watch the bursts of fire explode over the calm water. You can also spend the early part of your day before heading to your firework-watching location by walking around Seaport Village (which is a good thing to do for parking as well -- the earlier you get there, the easier it will be to find parking), which has a variety of bars, restaurants and boutique-style shops. Seaport Village also typically has a music festival going on for Independence Day in the East Plaza Gazebo.
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The heyday of the 4th of July at Pacific Beach (PB) passed several years ago with the alcohol beach ban, but that doesn't mean this bustling San Diego beach community doesn't still know how to party when Independence Day rolls around -- plus, now it's easier (ok, marginally easier) to find parking compared to the days when PB was the place to be for the 4th. Now you'll find a calmer beachfront where revelers leave the bars lining Garnet and Grand to catch the firework show down the coastline that's shot off from Ocean Beach's (OB) pier, before heading back to one of the after-firework parties at one of PB's hopping clubs. The firework show from PB won't be quite as close-up compared to heading to OB, but you'll still get your firework fix with a focus on the fun that comes after. If you want to be closer, get to OB early to find parking and then spend time at one of its fun, laid-back bars.Continue to 5 of 11 below.
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For those who are from the Midwest (or another area of the country where fireworks are shot up over lakes), you probably spent 4th of July watching fireworks from the comfort of a rocking boat. It's a pretty memorable way to see fireworks since they're often literally right above you, and in San Diego, you can still utilize that opportunity if you take a 4th of July harbor cruise. Hornblower Cruises and Flagship Cruises are two companies that offer dinner cruises on Independence Day that sail into the night so you can see the Big Bay Boom fireworks from the boat. You can also charter a yacht or sailboat for the day....though that may be substantially more expensive.
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Kids will love this firework watching option -- and so will adults. On the Fourth of July, the ship museums of San Diego open their doors for some ship exploring and fireworks seen from the decks. The Maritime Museum is made up of several historic ships, and a few -- including the Berkeley steam ferry -- have dinner and firework packages or special Independence day cruises offered. You can learn more about which ships offer what 4th of July activity on the Maritime Museum website. The famous USS Midway Museum on the embarcadero keeps its flight deck open late for firework viewing. Bring a picnic blanket and some snacks and get ready for a unique way to view the fireworks taking off over head.
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If you want a beachfront fireworks show in one of the prettiest areas of San Diego, head across San Diego Bay to Coronado. Each summer on the 4th of July, the city of Coronado shoots off fireworks over scenic Glorietta Bay. You can grab a spot along the long, wide beach and relax to the sound of the waves and fireworks sizzling down through the sky. Fill your day in Coronado with the morning parade down Orange Street and an afternoon concert in Spreckels Park.
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Those in North County San Diego don't need to travel all the way to the city center of San Diego for a fireworks extravaganza thanks to Escondido's annual Independence Day Festival & Fireworks. The event is free to enter and is hosted by the California Center for the Arts. It begins each year in the late afternoon and includes concerts, food vendors, children activities and free admission to the museum for part of the night. Once the sun goes down, you're in a prime spot since the event hosts its own fireworks display. If in East County, head to the Santee Salutes festival, which is held at the Town Center Community Park and features a music and kids zone in addition to a fireworks display after the sun goes down.Continue to 9 of 11 below.
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The much-loved and gorgeous La Jolla Cove is home to sea lions and some of the most dramatic coastline in San Diego County. It also plays host to fireworks each 4th of July at Ellen Browning Scripps Park. Before settling down on a picnic blanket or beach chairs, explore the shops and sights of La Jolla Village, or bring your suit and frolic in the surf by the cove, which has a few small sandy beaches.
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Double Peak is a unique spot to watch fireworks and one that's not well-known if you're not a San Marcos resident. Located in the San Elijo Hills community of San Marcos, Double Peak is the highest point in San Diego County and from the top of it, you can see all the way to downtown and even Catalina and Mexico on a clear day. Which means multiple firework displays visible to watch for those who don't mind being directly under the fireworks. Local law enforcement usually block the road all the way to the top after dark, though you'll still see stragglers walking up to get as high as possible before the show starts. Get there early to grab a spot at the top, bring a picnic, and watch San Diego's many firework shows explode around you.
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If you or a close friend has a cliffside or oceanfront home where you can actually see the fireworks from -- just stay home or invite yourself over! You'll avoid the crowds and save the hassle of parking while still having a quintessential San Diego day if you stop by the store beforehand for some meat and local fish to grill, plus a case or two of beer from one of San Diego's breweries (or really plan ahead and get some growlers directly from the source).
Most of the amusement parks in San Diego also have firework displays on the 4th of July including LEGOLAND California and SeaWorld. The San Diego County Fair at the Del Mar Fairgrounds also ends on the 4th of July with a spectacular fireworks show. Having a prime location to watch these firework performances will require purchasing an admission ticket to the park or fair, but it's usually worth it as it's a fun way to spend the holiday, especially with kids.