San Diego is a great place to be on the Fourth 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. This 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.
All of the shows around San Diego have been canceled or altered for 2020. Be sure to check out the official event webpages for the most up to date information.
Mission Bay for the Big Bay Boom
The Big Bay Boom is canceled in 2020.
This isn't just a popular fireworks-watching spot, it's also a popular day spot to celebrate the Fourth 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, get there early (before 8 a.m.) to secure a spot, especially if you want one with enough room to set up a volleyball net or other fun beach games. Even smaller groups should 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 full by the late afternoon).
Top of the Hyatt for the Big Bay Boom
The Big Bay Boom is canceled in 2020.
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 Fourth of July, the Big Bay Boom fireworks seem to burst right next to the windows. 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.
Seaport Village for the Big Bay Boom
The Big Bay Boom is canceled in 2020.
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 good 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 boutiques. Seaport Village also typically has a music festival going on for Independence Day in the East Plaza Gazebo.
Ocean Beach Pier Fireworks From Pacific Beach
The Ocean Beach Pier fireworks show is canceled for 2020.
The heyday of the Fourth 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. During the day, revelers like to hang out at the bars lining Garnet and Grand avenues just a couple blocks from the beach, before heading down to the water to catch the firework shot off from Ocean Beach's (OB) pier. The firework show from PB won't be quite as close-up compared to heading directly to OB, but you'll still get your fireworks fix with a focus on the fun that comes after—since all of the bars and nightclubs in PB will be just a short walk away.
If you don't care much about the afterparty but want to be closer to the fireworks, get to OB early to find parking.
Dinner Cruise on the San Diego Harbor
Spending the Fourth of July sailing around San Diego Bay on a midday harbor cruise or even a lush dinner cruise is perhaps one of the most memorable ways to spend the holiday. There are vessels sailing on July 4, 2020, however, the main draw of an Independence Day boat ride is usually to watch the fireworks from the water. Because all the main shows around San Diego have been canceled in 2020, there will be no evening show to enjoy. But fireworks or not, spending time on the water in San Diego is never a bad option.
Maritime Museum or Midway Museum
Independence Day activities at the Maritime Museum are canceled in 2020.
Kids will love this option. 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 each ship and its activities 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 overhead.
Fireworks at Coronado Beach
The Coronado parade and fireworks show are canceled for 2020.
If you want a beachfront fireworks show in one of the prettiest areas of San Diego, head across San Diego Bay to Coronado Island. Each summer on July 4, 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.
North and East County Fireworks
The Escondido fireworks show is canceled for 2020. Santee Salutes will be held virtually followed by a live fireworks show.
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's 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.
In East County, the Santee Salutes festival is an annual July 4 party in the town of Santee. The 2020 festival has been modified to include a virtual concert that you can enjoy from home, followed by two real-life simultaneous firework shows that will be launched from Town Center Community Park and West Hills Park. Both parks will be closed to spectators, but the locations are meant for residents to be able to enjoy the shows from their own front yards.
Double Peak in San Marcos for Multiple Firework Displays
The San Marcos Fireworks Extravaganza is canceled for 2020.
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. That means multiple firework displays are visible to watch, including the local San Marcos Fireworks Extravaganza. Local law enforcement usually blocks 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.