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 2012, from morning parades to night-time fireworks shows. They're grouped by geographical area (San Francisco & in the Bay; North Bay; East Bay; and Peninsula & South Bay).SAN FRANCISCO & IN THE BAY
San Francisco July 4th Fireworks
The highlight of San Francisco’s July 4 celebration, fireworks are set off from the foot 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 will post updated July 4 traffic and transportation information online.
Free Day at the Exploratorium
10 am-5 pm
Lucky you: You've got the day off, and the Exploratorium is free on the first Wednesdays of each month. Brainy fun.
At the Palace of Fine Arts, 3601 Lyon St., San Francisco 94123. Free; but groups of 10 or more must make advance reservations to be admitted.
For the Greater Good, or The Last Election
In The Poor of New York, a 19th century melodrama, a handsome gentleman ferrets out a swindling banker, rescues the victimized paupers and marries the poor family's daughter. San Francisco Mime Troupe spins the tale, narrating it from the viewpoint of "the misunderstood Godzillionaires who have made this country what it is today: broke."
At Dolores Park, San Francisco. Free, but donations welcome.
July 4th Celebration at the Pier
Performances at 2 pm by the Air Force band Mobility and at 6 pm by the '80s band Tainted Love, followed by fireworks. DJ music and discounts at some shops and eateries run until 11 pm.
At Pier 39, Beach St. and the Embarcadero, San Francisco 94133. Free.
Fourth of July Fireworks from Angel Island
For the first time, people are being allowed onto Angel Island to watch Independence Day fireworks. A ferry leaves San Francisco at 5:40 pm and arrives back at 11 pm; another ferry leaves from Tiburon at 6 pm and arrives back at 11:20 pm. Included is shuttle service on Angel Island between Ayala Cove and Battery Ledyard. The island's cafe and oyster bar are serving live music, dancing, food and drinks. Visitors are advised to bring flashlights or headlamps, blankets and portable seats.
Round-trip tickets from Pier 41: $22 for adults; $14.50 for ages 5-11. For tickets from Tiburon, e-mail email@example.com.
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. A nice plus: If "rain or fog impacts your visibility" of the fireworks, you can take a free Golden Gate Bay Cruise later in the year.
Depart from Pier 43 ½, San Francisco 94133. Tickets: $66 (includes one free beverage).
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 beverages or alcohol allowed; drinks and snacks available on board for purchase. The 8:15 pm cruise is non-alcoholic.
Depart from Pier 41, San Francisco 94133, at 8 and 8:15 pm; departs from Tiburon at 8:30 pm. Ticket prices vary.
Sausalito July 4th
10 am-9:30 pm
This three-part July 4th begins with a parade (10 am-noon) of floats, bands, classic cars, local officials and organizations, starting at Second and Main streets and ending at Dunphy Park. There, a picnic includes entertainment, food, old-fashioned games like tug-of-war and the egg toss, music and dancing. The finale (6:30-9:30 pm) at Gabrielson Park has live music and entertainment topped by the city’s fireworks show.
In Sausalito. Free. Table seating at Gabrielson Park celebration: $100 for six seats.
Marin County Fair
June 30-July 4, at 11 am-11 pm
Puppet shows, Chinese acrobats, and animals, exhibits and food galore. Los Lobos, Joan Jett and The Blackhearts, the Temptations and Preservation Hall Jazz Band 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: Free-$16.
Fireworks Cruises from Tiburon
Leaving from Tiburon, evening cruises stop in the Bay or dock at Angel Island for fireworks viewing. See San Francisco section above for details.
Alameda Fourth of July Parade and Jubilee
10 am-4 pm
With a 3.3 mile route, this claims to be the longest Independence Day parade in the U.S. Horses, marching bands, floats, dancers and cool cars pass spectators and front-yard barbecues starting at 10 am. Followed by the city’s Jumpin' & Jivin' Jubilee
of games, arts and crafts to make, music, a jump house, tattoos, music and other fun.
Parade starts at Lincoln Ave. and Park St. and ends at Lincoln and Webster; free. Jubilee at 12-4 pm at Rittler Park (Otis Dr. & Grand Ave.); admission $10.
July 4th Family Fun Festival
11 am-4 pm
Magicians, jugglers, a petting zoo, a giant slide, arts and crafts, live music and food.
At Jack London Square, Broadway and Embarcadero West, Oakland 94607. Free.
See next page for more July 4 fun in the East Bay, plus fireworks and parades on the Peninsula and in the South Bay ----->