It’s a long weekend, full of popsicles, hotdogs, parades and, baby, fireworks. From pancakes breakfasts to a Shakespeare festival and a musical all about sharing, there’s plenty to keep you going before the weekend ends with a serious fireworks bang.

Photo: Pretend City


San Francisco

Dress Up For The Sound of Music
Sing-a-long to a classic, The Sound of Music. This musical fave will feature subtitles so that the whole family can sing out loud, really loud. Goody bags will be handed out to everyone and audience members can add to the fun by dressing up as a favorite character for the costume contest. Fri.-Sun. Event details.

Wild Summer Nights at the San Francisco Zoo
A campout with snacks with wild animals?? Why yes, come to the San Francisco Zoo for an overnight stay with lions, tigers and bears! Take a tour with zoo guides, listen to fun stories and wake up to the sound of peacocks. Kiddos 6-18 must have adult in tow. Pre-registration is required. Sat. Event details. 

Get Jazzed at the Filmore Jazz Festival
Spend the 4th of July weekend in the heart of San Francisco’s historical jazz district–Fillmore Street between Jackson and Eddy will be lined with stages of live music, fine art and crafts, food, beverages, and plenty of spontaneous dancing. It is the largest free jazz festival on the West Coast. Sat.-Sun. Event details. 

East Bay

Go Swimming at The Rainbow Fish Musical
It’s summer, so come and take a dip under the sea for The Rainbow Fish Musical. The performance is a world premiere based on the award-winning book by Marcus Pfister about the joy of finding friendship through sharing. On Friday night performances, everyone gets a free slice of pizza before the show. Juice boxes and extra slices are available for purchase. Fri.-Sun. Event details. 

Midsummer Madness with the Shakespeare Festival
For the first time in its 35th year history, the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival is presenting Hamlet for the first time. Produced every year in San Francisco, Pleasanton, and Cupertino from July to October, Free Shakespeare in the Park provides an opportunity for over 30,000 people to see high quality, professional theater free of charge. To learn more about Hamlet, check out the family-friendly green show performance starting at 7 p.m. each night. The regular performance begins at 7:30 p.m. Sat.-Sun. Event details. 

South Bay

Pancakes and the World’s Shortest Parade
Start the Fourth bright and early for a Pancake Breakfast from 7:00-10:00am in the burger.Aptos parking lot. After, make your way to the “World’s Shortest Parade” from 10:00am-12:00pm and then immediately after make your way to the Aptos Village Park for the Party in the Park featuring local vendors, food, music, and activities until 4 p.m. Tues. Event details.


Have an Explosive Time at Discovery Park
Head to Discovery Meadow in downtown San Jose to celebrate our nation’s independence! The fireworks show will begin at approximately 9:30 p.m., after dusk. Home of the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose, you can spend the day there before the fireworks. Tues. Event details. 

Flash Back 110 Years on the Fourth
At Wilder Ranch Cultural Preserve you can go back, way back, to an early 1900s Independence Day celebration. The afternoon includes a family parade, games, children’s crafts area, live big band music, living history demonstrations, historic speeches and flag raising. Food and beverages will be for sale or pack your own picnic lunch. Tues. Event details.


Get Full at the 36th Annual Chili Cook-Off
Celebrate 4th of July with family and friends at the 36th Annual Chili Cook-Off. Teams recruited from restaurants, local business, community groups as well as police and fire departments battle for the Best Chili Award! Live music, kids activities and a variety of great food make for a wonderful 4th of July celebration. Activities start at noon, tastings at 1:30 p.m. Tues. Event details.

Fireworks Meet the San Francisco Symphony
Hang out at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View and watch fireworks to the sounds of the San Francisco Symphony. Grab some seats or spread out on the lawn under the stars. There will be fireworks on the stage and in the sky. Tues. Event details.

North Bay

Fair Fireworks and S’more Feast
See the Marin County Fair fireworks from the top of the Nike Site at McInnis Park. It’s an easy uphill stroll from the skatepark parking lot to sweeping views of the bay and surrounding hills, including China Camp State Park and iconic Mount Tamalpais. Rangers will prepare s’mores at Hillside Picnic Area before treking up the hill to view the fireworks show that begins promptly at 9:30 pm. Dress in layers and wear sturdy shoes. Don’t forget to bring a flashlight. (Friendly dogs are welcome, but must be leashed.) Sat. Event details.

Park it for Free on Measure A Days
Marin County Parks including Blackpoint Boat Launch, McInnis Park, McNears Beach Park, Miller Boat Launch, Paradise Beach Park and Stafford Lake Park are free on the first Saturday of each year thanks to Measure A. These free days will give the whole family a chance to explore each of these beautiful parks all year long. The county named this program “Measure A Days” because the loss in fee revenues will be offset by the Measure A funds approved by voters in 2012. Sat. Event details. 

What’s your favorite Fourth of July tradition? Tell us in the comments below!

–Chantal Lamers