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News / City Life

6 ways to celebrate the 4th of July in San Francisco

6 ways to celebrate the 4th of July in San Francisco
Photograph: Daniel Parks

We can't think of a better time to celebrate America's independence than right now. So many exciting changes are afoot in this great country of ours, and San Francisco is proudly at the forefront of the continued fight towards a more perfect union. So yep, you could say we're feeling especially patriotic this year. From the classic 4th fireworks shows to unexpected events around the Bay, we've picked six 4th of July activities that are sure to inspire some red, white and blue pride. 

Join the party on Angel Island: Catch a ferry to gorgeous Angel Island and join a festive, family-friendly 4th of July picnic in the middle of the Bay. Live music, a tram ride and dancing are all included in the price of your ticket (which you can purchase here), as well as views of fireworks shows around the Bay. A tasty buffet costs extra. Venturing to Angel Island is a great way to avoid too much mayhem while still partying like it's 1776. 

Check out the SF Symphony Firework Spectacular at Shoreline Amphitheater: If the San Francisco Symphony can drive to the South Bay, you can too. Check out our award-winning Symphony as they break out the classics at the Shoreline Amphitheater. Music will be timed to fireworks, which means you should time your wine-consumption for the perfect, ever-so-slight buzz throughout the show. For the record, the program includes a symphonic version of "Let it Go" from Frozen. Information can be found here

Hop on a 4th of July Bay Cruise: One way to get directly underneath San Francisco Bay's fab fireworks show to to book a ride on a local Bay Cruise. Hornblower still has tickets available for a few of their popular 4th of July cruises, including a spot on the historic San Francisco Belle, complete with a buffet dinner and dancing to a wonderfully cheesy cover band. 

Get groovy at the Fillmore Jazz Festival: If a traditional 4th of July celebration seems a bit boring, head to the center of San Francisco for the Fillmore Jazz Festival. Craft vendors, wonderful food booths, some legit libations and of course, incredible jazz will take over the neighborhood on both Saturday and Sunday. Up to 100,000 people are expected over the course of the weekend, so plan ahead!

Settle in for Alameda's 4th of July Parade: Many small towns in the Bay Area play host to 4th of July parades (including Sausalito and Larkspur) but we're partial to the sweet charm of Alameda's annual event. This is one of the longest 4th of July parades in the US, with 170 floats and 2500 participants. Find a great viewing spot along the parade route, grab a mini-American flag and cheer on this cute slice of Americana. 

And don't forget the classic San Francisco Fireworks: You certainly don't have to board on a boat to marvel at San Francisco's spectacular fireworks display. Weather permitting, this is one of the best free shows in town! Securing a spot along the Embarcadero or Pier 39 early is advised. And by early, we suggest arriving around 5 or 6pm for the 9:30 show. If you can snag a table or barstool at Epic Roasthouse, all the better, although many SF hotspots have great views of the Bay. Even the Top of the Mark is a popular location to see the 'works from 20 stories up. Public transit will have special schedules, so consult your favorite mode of transportation when planning your evening.