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Top 6 Bay Area 4th of July Celebrations

There’s something for everyone in the Bay Area on the 4th of July.
There’s something for everyone in the Bay Area on the 4th of July. Image by

The 4th of July is rapidly approaching. When you think “Independence Day”, do you picture traditional picnic lunches followed by fireworks? Or do you like 4th of July celebrations that put a unique spin on this time-honored holiday? Luckily for locals or people visiting the Bay Area this July, the area has something for everyone (and we do mean everyone). If you’re looking for some 4th of July inspiration, here’s a list of five Bay Area 4th of July celebrations we love.

1. Half Moon Bay 4th of July Parade & Pancake Breakfast

If you’re looking for nostalgic small-town spirit in a big city, gorgeous Half Moon Bay celebrates the 4th of July with the Ol’ Fashioned 4th of July Parade. The San Mateo County Sheriffs and CalFire lead this ensemble down Main Street, followed by charming whimsical floats and marching bands. There is no shortage of sights to see, which makes it a popular attraction for families with kids. This colorful parade features classic vintage cars, decorative bikes and trikes, dance and theatre troupes, youth sports teams, and community service groups. It also delights the crowd with a spectacular Color Guard by the American Legion. And a few local celebrities usually make an appearance, too. (This parade may have traditional small-town spirit, but this is still California).

Half Moon Bay’s famous “Sitting Marching Band” will be playing patriotic ballads and more in their usual old haunt, between Main and Kelly. This concert is unique because it combines bluesy, nostalgic notes with upbeat, classic patriotic tunes. As Bay Area 4th of July celebrations go, this one has something for just about anyone.

Kids and pet lovers of all ages will love “Pooches on Parade”, which includes beloved pets in the tradition). The Half Moon Bay Lions club will host its yearly 4th of July Pancake Breakfast in the City Hall parking lot on Main Street. In this case, the early bird gets the worm- the feast, which offers healthy options and confectionary indulgences, starts at 8 a.m. But it does last until noon, so late sleepers can still make a go of it.

What’s more American than a good old-fashioned barbecue? Not much, and this Bay Area 4th of July celebration includes the Red, White, and Blue Community barbecue, hosted by the Coastside Adult Day Health Center from noon to 3 p.m. There will be tents selling wine, beer, margaritas, and mimosas, courtesy of the Chamber of Commerce. And you won’t have to worry about keeping kids on-the-go and entertained. They’ll have their own zone at Half Moon Bay 4th Parade and Pancake breakfast. It’s complete with colorful face painting, a petting zoo, and even live music by the Wall of Blues.

For those of you who like your 4th of July celebrations with heart and a strong sense of community, consider spending your holiday at Half Moon Bay.

2. Cupertino’s July 4th Free Swimming Day 2019/ Blackberry Farm Independence Day Celebration

Cupertino’s swimming pools have a petting zoo in its backyard- and on the 4th of July, they’ve also got food trucks and a free fireworks display!
Cupertino’s swimming pools have a petting zoo in its backyard- and on the 4th of July, they’ve also got food trucks and a free fireworks display! Image by

Cupertino’s July 4th Free Swimming Day is a personal favorite- and a fun way to beat the sun on a sun-kissed day. It’s also a favorite for many Bay Area families who have made a tradition of the day. Few other Bay Area 4th of July celebrations keep kids happier- making the parents happy, too. Everybody wins as kids play all day and adults score some poolside relaxation time with friends and family. It’s a classic day of fun in the sun, but with an added bonus: Cupertino’s spacious swimming pools have a zoo in their backyard! At Blackberry Farms, kids get a chance to see and touch their favorite farm animals from majestic horses and ponies to cuddly pigs and chickens! The nature center is popular among kids, who can learn fun facts about their favorite farm animals and the ecosystems where they live.

Last but certainly not least, bird watchers will find themselves in bird watching heaven at Blackberry Farms. Stop by the nature center for guides that help you identify different species and bring your binoculars (or iPhones). There will definitely be some rare, beautiful sights to see.

We like this event because it’s a really a collective of things to do and manages to please all ages. You can have a picturesque picnic on rolling green fields, find tranquility by the creek, or enjoy the quiet majesty of nature between swims. You can have a day of non-stop fun in the sun or celebrate the 4th of July as a day of rest. If you’ve been searching high and low for Bay Area 4th of July celebrations where you can spend time quality time with nature, this one is for you. You can quietly observe or strap on your hiking boots and make an adventure of it- the choice is yours with this versatile event we love. Sometimes it’s nice to escape to a place where nature feels pure and untouched, home to so many beautiful creatures.

There’s only one possible drawback: Admission to the swimming pools is granted on a first come, first serve basis. So, if you want first choice of pools, you’ll have to get an early start. That was the (not so) bad news- now here’s the good news! Food trucks will be easily accessible throughout the day. Swimmers and kids can work up an appetite in the pool and eat your heart out at lunch time. Free swimming lasts from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., so the food truck lines may be long. But we still say the whole package is worth it.

3. Patriotic American 4th of July Concert with the Golden Gate Band

For those of you who like 4th of July celebrations that reflect on history, the Golden Gate Park Band is playing its 137th season in Golden Gate Park’s music concourse. For those of you who like iconic Fourth of July celebrations, this one is ambient and rich in history. As the City of San Mateo’s signature summer event, the Golden Gate Park Band has free live music that continues every Thursday for the entire summer. If you’re a tourist, you’ll enjoy the consummate San Francisco experience with fireworks over iconic bay views and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Fun facts: This symphony has been playing free concerts in Golden Gate Park for more than 100 years, making a staple in local culture. Diversity runs deep within the veins of the San Francisco Bay Area, and the city is a tapestry woven by different cultures and individuals. The Band, which plays songs from specific nationalities and cultures, will feature special Patriotic music as well on the 4th. This can also make a really romantic date for couples who are looking forward to spending the holiday together. To top it all off, of course, the night will end with magical fireworks over the Bay. It really makes for a picture perfect date (and some awesome pics to share on Instagram later).

Whether you want to get in some wholesome family fun or dance the night away, this event has something for you. It also offers a fun raffle for all attendees, so it’s a great way to get free stuff- or give it away if you’ve got a brand or business, and are looking to get your name out in this huge, diverse community.

4. The 5th Annual Queer as Fourth Celebration

The 5th Annual Queer as Fourth Celebration celebrates the diversity that makes our country beautiful.
The 5th Annual Queer as Fourth Celebration celebrates the diversity that makes our country beautiful. Image by

What better way to spend the 4th of July than with pride? Although this is an event where the LGBTQ community comes together to celebrate, it’s more about unity among everyone than it is an exclusively queer celebration. The 5th Annual Queer as Forth celebration does, however, hold significant meaning for the queer and other marginalized communities. Queers, immigrants, Muslims, and other groups whose lives have been shaped by prejudice find it important to show up in togetherness on this patriotic holiday.

At the 5th Annual Queer as Fourth celebration at El Rio, everyone who attends the event will have the chance to celebrate marginalized communities as individuals and Americans. This celebration honors diversity and also brings a whole lot of fun. It’s five hours of queer friends and family, and the people who love them. If you like your 4th of July celebrations upbeat, this celebration is for you. What we love about it is that it’s got plenty of relaxing space for families to eat and watch fireworks in grassy fields by the lake- and for those who want to party, the DJ areas are pulsing and throbbing, an ode to hedonism as fireworks blaze outside.

The DJ lineup includes local favorites Diery, Micahtron, and Krissy Merchante. If you’ve ever been to a queer celebration on the Fourth of July or another major holiday, you’ll know that some of these events are just bigger and brighter than others. If you like your holidays larger than life, then this one will not let down. The costumed dancers have a flair for the dramatic, and as fireworks explode in mid-air, you’ll be swept up by a rainbow of color. Another one of our favorite things about this event is that you can really use your creative license to create a Fourth of July costume as wild as you dare. Freedom of expression is a theme here (think annual Mermaid Parade in Coney Island, NY). You’ve got a green light to go all out on this- but you can also opt for a lively picnic by the lake with family and friends if that’s more your speed.Did we mention there will be free games, giveaways, and drink specials? If that seals the deal for you, you may want to grab your tickets now while they’re still hot.

5. 7 Different Free Guided Walking Tours on the 4th of July

This event is right up tourists’ alley, covering all the most iconic San Francisco spots on foot. The 2019 July 4th Free Walking Tours will explore American history in beautiful Golden Gate park. People will be given ample opportunity to get out their cameras (and, yes, iPhones) to capture statues, plaques, and historic monuments commemorating events in American history. For families with kids, it’s a great way to make history come alive with visuals they can admire as they learn.

Like most other Bay Area events, the Guided Walking tours celebrate diversity. After passing through the stately, historic Landmark Victorians of Alamo Square, the tour ventures into the beautiful Japanese Tea Garden. Among lush botanicals and a quiet peace, guests and their families will be quietly regaled by the nuance and beauty of Japanese culture- right in the Bay Area. After that breath of fresh air, the tour enters the heart of the city- Nob Hill, where the streets offer everything from vintage “mom and pop” ice cream shops reminiscent of the 50s, to majestic mountain views you can’t get anywhere else.

Needless to say, there will be many locals on this trip. Natives and dwellers of the Bay Area tend to fall in love with their city over and over again- and who could blame them? The ours finish off with fireworks lighting up Telegraph Hill Stairway. Just remember, groups on this hike are limited to 8 or less. However, if you’re hiking with a larger group, there is an option to reserve private walks that follow the same paths ahead of time.

6. The 2019 4th of July Fireworks Cruise

The 2019 4th of July Cruise has iconic views of the city, a phenomenal fireworks display, and lots of free food on board!
The 2019 4th of July Cruise has iconic views of the city, a phenomenal fireworks display, and lots of free food on board! Image by

The 2019 4th of July Fireworks Cruise in San Francisco takes the scenic route through the Bay Area on the 4th of July. This is its 24h annual sail along the bay on the “Bay Lady”, a ship that carries up to nearly 100 people comfortably. This boat has a spacious cockpit that is slightly recessed into the center of the boat, keeping passengers out of the wind while still enjoying the sun. Since this is an outdoor trip and there is no interior on the ship, people are advised to bring jackets or dress warmly. The crisp bay breeze can be chilly, but it keeps passengers cool and adds to the quaintness of this scenic trip. However, this cruise isn’t all about ambience- it also features a spectacular set of fireworks that kids and adults love. (People with babies or those with a tendency toward sea sickness might want to forgo this adventure, but for people who love the water, it’s a magical trip).

You’re bound to get hungry during this 3-hour expedition, so the Bay Lady is equipped with a free deli-style buffet and cash bar. The buffet is something like a perfect picnic lunch, including an array of fresh sliced meats, an assorted cheese display, garnishes and condiments, a full veggie tray with dip, and freshly baked cookies. The hearty buffet adds warmth and coziness to this cruise, which has an air of hometown nostalgia despite its big city location. For locals, the sweeping, magnificent bay views and family-friendly atmosphere have given the cruise sentimental value. For tourists, the iconic views of San Francisco lit by fireworks make for magical memories. And since we all know that San Francisco is for lovers, let’s not forget what a romantic date the cruise makes.

The only possible downside? Weather conditions could be harsh, in which case the cruise would be cancelled and you’d have to find something else to do on short notice. But as long as the weather permits, this Bay Area 4th of July celebration is one for the books.

We hope our list gave you an idea of how diverse Bay Area 4th of July celebrations can be! There’s something for everyone around San Francisco, and this holiday is no exception to that rule. So choose your adventure, relax, and enjoy the fireworks!


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