The “Big Bay Boom“ is the largest fireworks display on the West Coast.
When it comes to Independence Day, San Diego goes big. So big, in fact, that the city is home to one of the largest firework displays on the West Coast (if not the largest). It’s a time-honored tradition that never fails to deliver a good time. So where can you go to catch the show?
Luckily, T+L has you covered. From a rooftop speakeasy in the Historic Gaslamp Quarter to a cruise around San Diego Bay to the terrace of one of the city’s most celebrated hotels, read on for the best tricks, tips, and spots to make the most of your holiday this year.
There are only three words to describe July Fourth in downtown San Diego: Big Bay Boom. Starting at 9 p.m. and launched from barges located around the bay, not only is this the largest fireworks show in town, but the display is so big and so loud, it can be seen and heard from pretty much any part of downtown.
If you want to be in the thick of the action, your best bet is to heed Horace Greeley’s advice and “head west.” You can’t go wrong in Pacific Beach, Mission Beach, Harbor Island, and Shelter Island—all great locations to see the fireworks. Get there early and post up at the beach with all your essentials. These areas tend to fill up fast and it will be more rewarding if you come prepared with beach blankets and beverages in tow.
As in years past, a free shuttle service will be available to and from Harbor Island and Shelter Island. Mission Bay is a perennially popular party spot, made all the more fun if you have access to a boat.
Speaking of boats, harbor cruises are a really fun and exciting way to spend the holiday. Check out Hornblower Cruise Line’s special 4th of July Fireworks Dinner Cruise. Included with the price of admission is a dinner buffet and some killer views of beautiful downtown San Diego.
If you’re hoping to stick around the city, The Nolen’s rooftop bar and lounge in the heart of the historic Gaslamp Quarter is your best bet. Likewise, the views from Mister A’s rooftop will go un-paralleled, as will the experience of dining at one of the city’s most distinguished locales.
For those looking to mix in a bit of history on this already historic occasion, Old Town will be hosting a free, old-fashioned Fourth of July celebration where guests can relive the excitement of an 1800s Independence Day party. The all-day event starts at 10 a.m. and includes activities and games for all ages. Guests are encouraged to participate in the parade around the plaza reminiscent of the July 4 parades of early San Diego with music, animals, banners, and people in historical costumes.
La Jolla Shores
Working your way up the coast, La Valencia Hotel—also known as La Jolla’s Pink Lady—will come alive with music and entertainment for this year’s Fourth. Perched above the cliffs of La Jolla Cove, this timeless hotel offers extraordinary views of the Pacific Ocean and overlooking Ellen Browning Scripps Park guests and diners can enjoy drinks on the terrace of the hotel which affords both the views and a sense of respite from the crowds below.
If you’re looking to celebrate in style, guests of the Fairmont Grand Del Mar will be able to partake in their own private fireworks show. As in previous years, the party will take place on the resort’s Aria Lawn and feature a sunset barbeque buffet including all-American favorites, live music, and some of the best fireworks in town. Non-resort guests can enjoy a Fourth of July brunch from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., or dinner from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Amaya.
For more information about where or how you can celebrate this fourth of July, check out SanDiego.org.
Michelle Gross is an Editorial Producer and Contributing Writer at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @mtothegnyc.