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 2014, 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.
At SF's tourist hubs that you normally avoid. San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency posts updated July 4 traffic and transportation information online.
July 4th Celebration at the Pier
From 12 pm
Performances at 12-3 pm by the West Coast band Mobility and at 5-8 pm by the '80s band Tainted Love, followed by the city’s 9:30 pm fireworks show.
At Pier 39, Beach St. and the Embarcadero, San Francisco 94133. Free.
San Francisco Mime Troupe’s Ripple Effect
A revolutionary, a tech inventor and an immigrant-turned-patriot each has reasons to despise the others—until they find themselves on the same boat in San Francisco Bay. The satirical troupe takes on Google buses and their protesters, the Tea Party, San Francisco’s sky-high rent and other hot symbols and issues, while delivering its trademark slapstick, melodrama, corny jokes and witty ditties.
At Dolores Park, 18th and Dolores streets, San Francisco. Free, but donations welcome.
Fourth of July Fireworks from Angel Island
From 5 pm
Watch the fireworks from Angel Island State Park. Board a ferry from Tiburon at 5 pm, or a ferry from Pier 39 at 5:40 pm. Get food and drink from the island’s café or cantina, and enjoy live music and dancing there before the fireworks start. Shuttles take you to and from the island’s best viewing spot, Battery Ledyard. The ferries return to Tiburon and Pier 39 at 10-10:30 pm.
Round-trip tickets: $39 for adults, $25 for ages 5-11.
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. Includes one free beverage. 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.
Depart from Pier 43 ½, San Francisco 94133. General admission tickets $70.
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: $70 adults; $50 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: $100-110 for six seats.
Marin County Fair
July 2-6, at 11 am-11 pm
Puppet shows, Chinese acrobats, photos with Star Wars characters, and animals, exhibits, contests and food galore. Huey Lewis and the News, the Wailers and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts 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: $15, 17.
Fireworks Cruises from Tiburon
Leaving from Tiburon, evening cruises stop in the Bay or drop you at Angel Island for fireworks viewing. See San Francisco section above for details.
Alameda 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
Magicians, jugglers, clowns, puppeteers, face painters, music and dance performances, an Uncle Sam stilt walker, a petting zoo, crafts to make and food.
At Jack London Square, Broadway and Embarcadero West, Oakland 94607. Free.
More July 4 fun in the East Bay, plus fireworks and parades on the Peninsula and in the South Bay ---->