The San Francisco’s Bay Area Fourth of July celebrations are as diverse as the region itself.

By Jenna Scatena
June 30, 2015
Courtesy of Marin County Fair

You’ll find Fourth of July celebrations across the Bay Area as diverse as the region itself. From a quirky beach town tug-of-war, to watching fireworks from the comfort of a wine train, these festivities are entirely unique.

San Francisco

Celebrating independence in San Francisco is all about staking claim to a prime slice of waterfront picnic real estate. The Marina Green is the best grassy perch to watch the epic fireworks show light up the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. Two sets of simultaneous fireworks sync up for a mind-bending mirror-image display that begins at 9:30 p.m.

The Bay

For one of the best views of any fireworks show, several San Francisco-based cruises embark on voyages across the bay for a panoramic view of the pyrotechnics display. Hornblower, Blue & Gold Fleet, and Red and White Fleet all offer evening fireworks cruises with varying amenities.


One of the largest and longest-running Independence Day cavalcades in the US takes place on the humble East Bay island of Alameda. Dancing troops, horses, vintage cars and more than 170 floats parade through downtown, beginning at 10 a.m. Make friends with a local, and you might end up enjoying the parade with a burger in hand on their front lawn.


The Bay Area’s quirkiest Fourth of July celebration kicks off at 9 a.m. in the notoriously hippy enclave of Bolinas, with a tug-of-war that takes place across a lagoon between Bolinas and Stinson Beach. It’s followed by an eccentric tie-dye-meets-stars-and-stripes procession that concludes at the beach, where the party continues through the evening.

Marin County

The annual Marin County Fair (pictured) boasts a classic all-American summer carnival feel, replete with flashy rides, ring toss, a petting zoo, and funnel cake. Get in line for the ferris wheel at 8:30 p.m. to score a front-row seat for the 9:30 p.m. fireworks display over the lagoon.

Mountain View

This Fourth of July, the San Francisco symphony takes the stage at the Shoreline Amphitheater, a grassy outdoor concert venue that feels like one massive backyard barbecue. Kick back here for a patriotic toast to America, with a fireworks show set to the tune of high-energy classical music.


Skip the hassle of holiday traffic for the ease of the Napa Wine Train. The 3.5-hour journey on a classy vessel winds through vineyard-laced hills, while patrons enjoy a three-course, white-linen dinner, complete with wine and a view of the Yountville fireworks show from the train.

Jenna Scatena is on the San Francisco Bay Area beat for Travel + Leisure. You can follow her on Twitter at @Jenna_Scatena and Instagram at @Jenna_Scatena

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