201 University Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94704
The Berkeley Marina is host to one of the East Bay’s biggest Independence Day celebrations. The free, city-sponsored event features live music, more than 25 food vendors and a Kid’s Adventure Playground with pony rides, train rides, bounce houses and a giant slide. Live music begins at noon until 9:30 p.m., culminating in the End of the Pier Fantastic Fireworks Show at 9:35 p.m. Among the scheduled performers to appear are a world-renowned juggler, an award-winning magician and a stunt show. Although the family-friendly event is alcohol free, there are three restaurants at the marina serving beer, wine and premium drinks.
1199 East Beach, Presidio
San Francisco, CA 94129
With the iconic Golden Gate Bridge looming as a backdrop, Crissy Field will be packed with friends and family to enjoy barbecues, picnics and outdoor activities throughout the day. First-time visitors can expect legions of walkers, runners and bicyclists to the former military airfield and parking will be at a premium for those who arrive late. At night, which may be chilly even in July, much of the crowd remains to enjoy the spectacular fireworks display along the Bay. Over the holiday weekend, San Francisco is host to the Fillmore Jazz Festival, the largest free Jazz festival on the West Coast, just a few miles away in the Fillmore District.
2 Beach St.
San Francisco, CA 94133
Large crowds are also expected at one of the city’s most touristy spots at Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf, not only for the Fourth of July, but also for the entire holiday weekend. There are a multitude of activities to enjoy, including live music, trips to Alcatraz Island, visiting the Aquarium by the Bay, enjoying street performers and perhaps a ride on the San Francisco Carousel. In addition to the wealth of entertainment, Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf has an outstanding collection of fine restaurants, seafood stands, quick eateries and coffee shops. At night, the City of San Francisco will host its official fireworks display at Pier 39, with its stunning view of the Golden Gate and the Bay.
1 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, CA 94043
For classic music lovers, the San Francisco Symphony will perform its annual Fourth of July concert and fireworks spectacular at Shoreline Amphitheatre. The theme for this year’s show, led by conductor Edwin Outwater, is “American Journey,” featuring such American classics as Elmer Berstein’s theme to “The Magnificent Seven,” Aaron Copland’s Hoe Down from “Rodeo,” John Williams’ “Star Wars” and John Phillip Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever.” The evening is capped off with a spectacular fireworks display accompanied by the orchestra. The award-winning symphony will appear a few days later to perform at the Stern Grove Festival, a series of free summer concerts in San Francisco’s Sunset District.
USS Hornet Fourth of July Celebration
707 W. Hornet Ave., Pier 3
Alameda, CA 94501
What better way to embrace the birth of the nation than with a visit to the historical USS Hornet Museum at Alameda Point? Each year, the massive Naval ship holds an entertaining Fourth of July event featuring live music, interactive games, delicious food, beer and wine. The USS Hornet, more than two football fields long, is one of the country’s most distinguished aircraft carriers, having participated in World War II and recovering the Apollo 11 astronauts after the historic moon landing. Much of the carrier can be self-guided although friendly docents are always on hand to offer helpful information. Other highlights include artifacts from the Apollo mission and a very impressive collection of vintage fighter jets. Before visiting the USS Hornet, residents and visitors alike can enjoy the City of Alameda’s Fourth of July Parade, considered to be one of the largest and longest Independence Day parades in the nation.
Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. His work can be found on Examiner.com.