photo: Dan McGeorge

The 4th of July is almost here! Thanks to dazzling, spectacular fireworks shows, the glorious holiday is full of wonder and awe for kids and adults alike. Dress up in red, white and blue and hit the town at these Independence Day parades, festivals, celebrations and firework displays from the beach to the mountains. Read on to see where to have a blast with your family!

photo: Tristan Loper via Flickr

Coastal San Diego

The Big Bay Boom July 4th Fireworks Show
The Big Bay Boom is back with amazing fireworks* over the San Diego Bay. What’s unique about this extravaganza is the fireworks are lit from several coastal locations, including Shelter Island, Harbor Island, Embarcadero North, Seaport Village, Embarcadero South Marina Park, Coronado Ferry Landing and Imperial Beach. The show is always popular, so consider carpooling or take the San Diego Trolley. Event details.

Bring the kids and enjoy an entire day of patriotic activities on Coronado Island. The festival starts at 10 a.m. for the annual Independence Day Parade on Orange Ave. Then head over to Spreckels Park for picnicking, games, entertainment and a concert at 4 p.m. Stay until the evening for the fireworks blast over Glorietta Bay. Event details.

Del Beach Bash
Get a jumpstart on 4th of July festivities at this beach party on July 1st, complete with a live band, firepits, s’mores and fireworks. On July 4th, Coronado Island will have their annual parade including family-friendly activities and an awesome fireworks show. Note: The Del Beach Bash on 7/1 is complimentary for overnight hotel guests. For day visitors, tickets to the event may be purchased for $25 per person. Event details.

La Jolla 
Head to the beautiful La Jolla Cove and bring a picnic dinner to enjoy at Ellen Browning Scripps Park, then watch fireworks after taking in the gorgeous sunset view. Event details.

Ocean Beach
Even the dogs want to celebrate the 4th of July! Spend the day at the Ocean Beach Pier and stay for the fireworks. And with the Ocean Beach dog beach nearby, Fido can celebrate independence along with you. Bring along a radio if you’d like because you can hear the fireworks soundtrack being broadcast simultaneously during the show if you tune in to KyXy 96.5. Event details.

photo: Bill Gracey via Flickr

East County

While it’s true Julian is known for apples and mining, the town also has an old-fashioned  4th of July day planned. Camp out on Main Street for a day of family fun at “the best little town parade in America.” During the parade you’ll see high schoolers leading their animals down Main Street, equestrian groups in full dress, Grand Marshal, locals riding in spiffy cars or vintage vehicles, the newly crowned Miss Julian and her entourage, the town doctor getting applause and town fire fighters getting cheers. There are four bands (marching and riding), Mountain Tribal Gypsies dancing down Main Street, WWII Submariner Veterans, bunting, banners, flags, color guards and patriotic songs.. The parade is followed by a barbecue and live entertainment. Sorry, Julian does not have a fireworks display. Event details.

El Cajon
The July 4th event starts at 1 p.m. with food, games, prizes, kiddie train rides and more! Live musical entertainment begins at 3 p.m. and fireworks at 9 p.m. Arrive early for parking to find the best spot for your picnic and to view the fireworks! Event details.

Lake Murray Fireworks
After several years on hiatus, the beloved San Diego Lake Murray Music Fest and Fireworks show is back this July 4th! The music fest is held at Lake Murray Community Park in San Carlos and the fireworks can be seen throughout the Navajo community, from La Mesa to Del Cerro and beyond. Enjoy live music from a variety of bands and performers all day and the fireworks show set to a soundtrack mix at 9 p.m. Food on hand will include hot dogs and hamburgers, Admiral’s restaurant fare, Rita’s Italian Ice, Bullseye Kettle Corn, Windmill Farms and Inferno Woodfired Kitchen. Event details.

Santee’s Salutes July 4th takes place at the Town Center Community Park East. The celebration will feature carnival rides, games, inflatables, a food court and live musical performances. There will be a patriotic ceremony at 6 p.m. and fireworks follow later in the evening. Event details.

photo: Frank McKenna via Unsplash

San Diego Inland

Mira Mesa
Plan to pack up the kids and spend the entire day in Mira Mesa. The 4th of July festivities begin with a Pancake Breakfast at the Mira Mesa Senior Center from 7-11 a.m., hosted by the Black Mountain Masonic Lodge. Family Fun Day in the Park starts at 11 a.m. with food vendors and entertainment. The annual 4th of July Parade steps off at 11:30 a.m. from the corner of Mira Mesa Blvd. and Greenford Dr., traveling down Mira Mesa Blvd. and turning north on Camino Ruiz to end at New Salem. Family Fun Day continues until 9 p.m., and the Park provides a front row seat for the Fireworks Extravaganza. Event details.

Old Town 
Enjoy some old-fashioned family fun at the Old Town State Historic Park. The day includes a classic parade, crafts and activities reminiscent of the early San Diego days, such as a pie eating contest and wagon rides. Note: This fun day does not include fireworks, so head to the Big Bay Boom Fireworks show (details above) after the festivities. Event details.

photo: Beth Shea

North County – Inland

Enjoy a taste of the “good ‘ol days” with Old Poway Park’s “Old Fashioned 4th of July.” The free event begins at 10 a.m. with live music and day-long family-friendly patriotic activities including face painting, crafts, train robbery re-enactments, old-fashioned games, gun fighting re-enactments and antique train displays. Tasty treats and train rides will be available for a nominal fee. Finish the day with a fireworks extravaganza at Poway High School. School gates open at 6 p.m. with a DJ, games and lots of fun to keep the kiddos patient until the fireworks start at 9 p.m. Event details.

Rancho Bernardo
Celebrate America at the “Spirit of the Fourth” Festival and Parade. The Parade, which begins at 3:30 p.m., will be led by a troop of Boy Scouts and backed up by four high school bands, beauty queens, Ronald McDonald and a whole host of dignitaries, unicyclists, drum majorettes and more.  The Independence Day Parade begins at 3:30 p.m. Then head to Rancho Bernardo’s fireworks event starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Athletic Field at Bernardo Heights Middle School at 12990 Paseo Lucido. Enjoy live music by the local “US” Band and at 9 p.m. the fireworks display “Sky Concert” begins. Note: Seating is on the grass, so bring a blanket or lawn chairs. Event details.


Scripps Ranch
Scripps Ranch celebrates Independence Day with a community parade. You can then enjoy fun, food, music and games at the free festival. Sorry, no fireworks at this event. Scripps Ranch residents are encouraged to join with neighbors to dress up in parade theme costumes and walk the parade or to decorate a vehicle representing their neighborhood. Event details.

Bring a picnic, grab a blanket and enjoy a fun-filled patriotic afternoon at Grape Day Park. This free annual festival will draw a crowd of around 20,000 revelers. There will be live music by the Manny Cepeda Orchestra Quartet, Ke’Ahi & Halau Hula O Makalani Na Pilialoha and the Jonathan Lee Band, delicious food and a ton of activities and games for kids. The day’s festivities will conclude with a special performance by Camp Pendleton’s 1st Marine Division Band and a dazzling fireworks display. Note: parking is limited so carpool if possible. Event details.

San Marcos
Head to a patriotic 4th of July celebration at Bradley Park in San Marcos. This free event includes entertainment featuring Liquid Blue at 6 p.m., carnival games, bouncy jumpers and food, followed by evening fireworks at 9 p.m. Bring chairs or blankets for lawn seating. Event details.

Celebrate Independence Day with live music, the Light up the Night Dinner and fireworks. Note: Parking in Brengle Terrace Park is $15/car; Admission to the Moonlight Amphitheater is $5/person; Kids five and under, active and retired military members and their immediate family are free. Event details.

photo: Del Mar Fairgrounds Facebook

North County – Coastal

LEGOLAND celebrates Independence Day with a star-spangled Fourth of July celebration: Red, White and Boom! Throughout the day, kids of all ages can participate in all-American family picnic games like tossing water-balloons, burlap sack races, patriotic costume contests and building activities. The fireworks show begins at 8:30 p.m. and combines patriotic music with dazzling pyrotechnics. Red, White and Boom! is included in the cost of regular Park admission. Event details.

Del Mar
Spend July 4th at the San Diego County Fair! Enter the ‘Most Patriotic’ contest at 1 p.m., where the most creatively dressed person wearing stars and stripes and red, white and blue wins the prize. End a fun-filled day on a high note with a spectacular fireworks display at 9 p.m. at the Heineken Grandstand Stage. Event details.

*Fireworks begin at 9 p.m. unless otherwise noted.

Where does your family celebrate the 4th of July? Tell us in the comments!

––Beth Shea