The San Francisco Bay Area marks July 4 with fireworks, picnics, concerts and family fun. Here’s a guide to some of the best activities and offerings in and around San Francisco on Independence Day 2015, from morning parades to night-time fireworks shows. They're grouped by geographical area (San Francisco; North Bay; East Bay; and Peninsula & South Bay).
San Francisco July 4th Fireworks
The highlight of San Francisco’s July 4 celebration, the city sets off fireworks from the end of the Municipal Pier and from barges north of Pier 39. Best places to watch (from land): Aquatic Park (Jefferson and Hyde streets), the Cannery, Ghirardelli Square, other waterfront spots at Fisherman’s Wharf, and Coit Tower. Or go off-shore: See below for boats that will take you out and anchor in the Bay during the show.
Local Tip: If you're trying to avoid huge crowds, the Crissy Field Overlook and Inspiration Point in the Presidio offer great views. Bernal Heights Park is also a favorite amongst locals, where you can lie down a blanket and watch the fireworks from afar with the glittering lights of downtown to complete the San Francisco portrait.
At SF's tourist hubs that you normally avoid. San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency posts updated traffic and transportation information online.
July 4th Celebration at the Pier
From 12 pm
Tainted Love, the local favorite 80s cover band, hits the stage at 8PM and ends just in time to watch the fireworks show at 9:30.
At Pier 39, Beach St. and the Embarcadero, San Francisco 94133. Free.
San Francisco Mime Troupe’s Schooled
This year the legendary theater troupe takes on public education, putting an aging basketball coach at the center of the narrative.
At Dolores Park, 18th and Dolores streets, San Francisco. Free, but donations welcome.
- Fourth of July Fireworks from Angel Island
From 5:40 pm
Angel Island State Park is a fantastic place to watch the fireworks show — you'll have the city skyline as the backdrop. Board a Blue & Gold Fleet ferry from Pier 39, take the island’s tram and enjoy the show. If you head out early, be sure to take some time to wander the many trails that run through groves of young oaks. There's also an optional barbeque dinner available. The boat returns to San Francisco at 10:30 pm.
From Pier 39, Beach St. and the Embarcadero, San Francisco 94133. Tickets $35 and up.
- Red & White Fleet July 4th Fireworks Cruises
7:45 pm and 8:15 pm
Red & White Fleet boats cruise along the waterfront, stop to watch the San Francisco fireworks and return around 10-10:30 pm. A nice plus: If "rain or fog impacts your visibility" of the fireworks show, you can take a free Golden Gate Bay Cruise another time.
From Pier 43 ½, Taylor St. and the Embarcadero, San Francisco 94133. General admission $80.
- Blue & Gold Fleet Fourth of July Fireworks Cruises
8, 8:15 & 8:30 pm
Blue & Gold Fleet boats park in the bay for the San Francisco fireworks show. No outside alcohol or beverages allowed; drinks and snacks are available on board to buy. The 8:15 pm cruise is non-alcoholic.
Departs at 8 pm from Pier 41 and at 8:15 pm from Pier 39, San Francisco 94133. Departs at 8:30 pm from Tiburon's ferry terminal. Tickets: $85 adults; $60 for ages 5-11.
- Sausalito July 4th
10 am-4 pm and 6:30-9:30 pm
This three-part July 4th begins with a parade (10 am-noon) of floats, bands, clowns, classic cars, local officials and organizations, starting at Second and Main streets and ending at Dunphy Park. There, enjoy live music, dancing, food and old-fashioned games like tug-of-war and an egg toss. The finale (6:30-9:30 pm) at Gabrielson Park has more live music topped by the city’s fireworks show at 9:20 pm.
In Sausalito 94965. Free. Table seating at Gabrielson Park celebration: $120-130 for six seats.
- Marin County Fair
July 1-5, at 11 am-11 pm
Jugglers, Chinese acrobats, photos with Star Wars characters, and animals, exhibits, contests, gardening and cooking demos and food galore. The Wall Flowers, Kool and the Gang, and Orpheus are among the concert headliners. Fireworks at 9:30 pm nightly. All concerts, performances and carnival rides are included with the admission price.
At 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael 94903. Admission: $12-20.
- Fireworks Cruise from Tiburon
Leaving from Tiburon, a Blue & Gold Fleet ferry stops in the bay for fireworks viewing. See San Francisco section above for details.
- Alameda Mayor’s 4th of July Parade
?From 10 am
With a 3.3 mile route, this claims to be one of the longest Independence Day parades in the U.S. Horses, marching bands, floats, dancers and cool cars pass spectators and front-yard barbecues starting at 10 am.
Parade starts at Lincoln Ave. and Park St. and ends at Lincoln and Webster. Free.
- July 4th Festival of Family Fun
11 am-4 pm
Live music, entertainment, interactive activities and food.
At Jack London Square, Broadway and Embarcadero West, Oakland 94607. Free.
- July 4 Onboard the USS Hornet
The World War II aircraft carrier, now a museum, offers games, various live bands, a jump house and a flight simulator for your entertainment and its captain’s bridge, sick bay, torpedo room, officers’ quarters and Apollo moon mission and aircraft exhibits for your exploration. Watch fireworks around the Bay Area from the flight deck. Food, beer and wine are available on board.
At 707 W. Hornet Ave., Pier 3, Alameda 94501. Visitors may not bring aboard any food, soft drinks, alcohol, fireworks, coolers or large bags. Admission: $20-25 for adults; $10 for ages 6-17.
- Fourth of July at Berkeley Marina
Berkeley’s bash includes several live bands, circus performers, carnival and pony rides, a giant slide, a photo booth, a petting zoo, dragon boat rowing and carpentry projects for kids. Fireworks explode from a barge near the Berkeley Pier at 9:35 pm.
At Berkeley Marina, 201 University Ave., Berkeley. No alcohol. Free.
See next page for July 4 fun on the Peninsula and in the South Bay ---->
PENINSULA, SILICON VALLEY & SOUTH BAY
- Foster City Fourth of July Celebration
9 am–9:45 pm
A family and pooch parade, games, carnival rides, arts and crafts vendors, a watermelon-eating contest and live bands are all sandwiched between a 9 am pancake breakfast and 9:30 pm fireworks over the lagoon.
At Leo Ryan Park, 650 Shell Boulevard, Foster City. Pay for food; other activities free.
- Redwood City's 4th of July Parade, Festival & Fireworks
From 9 am
A downtown festival along Broadway and in Courthouse Square has a battle of the bands, a car show, community organizations, arts and crafts, a kids’ area and food. The parade starts 10 am at Marshall and Winslow streets; drill teams, floats and other contingents compete for cash prizes. Fireworks, launched from the port at about 9:30 pm, can be seen from a viewing area along the waterfront off of Seaport Court, or from downtown. Early-morning side activities include a 7:30-10:30 am firefighters association pancake breakfast and an 8:45 am fun run.
In downtown Redwood City. Free.
- Morgan Hill Freedom Fest
From 9:30 am
A "car cruise" of classic, collector, hot rod and pre-1985 vehicles launches the town's parade, an annual tradition since 1876. That’s followed by a car show, live bands, games and contests and fireworks around 9:30 pm.
At Morgan Hill Outdoor Sports Center, 16500 Condit Rd., 95037, and other Morgan Hill locations. Free.
- Rose, White & Blue Parade & Festival
10 am-3 pm
San Jose’s Rose Garden district parade starts at 10 am and features bands, dance troupes, home-made floats, antique cars and kids on bikes. A picnic afterward includes live music, arts and crafts booth and a classic car show, with food available from local restaurants.
Parade starts at Lincoln High School parking lot, 555 Dana Ave., San Jose 95126, and ends on The Alameda near Pershing Ave. Picnic is on The Alameda. Free.
- Palo Alto Summer Festival & Chili Cook-off
Chili teams compete for cash and prizes. Plus live music, art-making, fun for kids, food vendors and ice cream tasting.
At Mitchell Park, 600 East Meadow Dr., Palo Alto 94301. Free admission; nominal fee for chili and ice cream tasting.
- San Francisco Symphony at Shoreline Amphitheatre
The symphony plays songs and scores from American films, and then accompanies a fireworks show. This year they'll play John Williams classics like Hedwig's Theme from Harry Potter and the score of Star Wars.
At Shoreline Amphitheatre, One Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View 94043. Tickets $25 and up. Parking $10 per car.
- San Jose Fireworks
?This fireworks show in downtown San Jose is organized by the 101-year-old Rotary Club of San Jose.
At Discovery Meadow, 180 Woz Way, San Jose 95110. Free.
<---- See previous page for JULY 4th events in San Francisco, the East Bay and North Bay.