The first time I celebrated 4th of July in San Francisco, I headed to Fisherman’s Wharf for the annual fireworks display. Instead, “Karl the Fog” descended, and my friends and I watched the clouds change colors – never able to actually see the fireworks above the fog.
While the fireworks at Pier 39 will still be the most spectacular display in San Francisco, and the whole area is bound to be crowded, here are some other spots to celebrate the country’s birthday.
1. On a Boat
You’ll still be watching the same fireworks from Pier 39, but you’ll be watching them from a boat. Plus, you’ll then be able to see some of the displays from other sides of the Bay. The famous California Hornblower offers a $250 fireworks cruise that includes a four-course meal, drinks, and dancing. Or, take a boat trip around Angel Island. If you’re super lucky and planned ahead, you might even be able to get an overnight camping spot on Angel Island.
2. Up on a Hill
Where is the best place to watch fireworks? On a hill. Fortunately, the Bay Area has a lot of them. In San Francisco, head up to Twin Peaks, Bernal Hill, or Mt. Davidson. The Marin headlands will give you a spectacular backdrop – the Golden Gate Bridge – to your fireworks display, and plenty of places to hike or bike beforehand. Or, head up to the top of Ring Mountain in Tiburon to get a full 360-degree view of fireworks in San Francisco, Marin, the East Bay, and even a few sparks coming over from Vallejo.
3. At a Fair
Cotton candy and ferris wheels only make fireworks better. Especially if you can time it just right to be on the ferris wheel, with your cotton candy, just as the display starts. In the East Bay, the Berkeley Marina has all day games, food, entertainment, and kite flying before its own fireworks display – and you may even be able to see the ones from the city. The Marin County Fair, in San Rafael, has carnival rides, fair food, exhibits, and live concerts, along with its own fireworks display each night. Bonus: it’s billing itself this year as “the happiest fair on Earth.”