photo: Dan McGeorge

Ready to have a real blast with your little firecrackers this July 4th? We’ve got the lowdown on the best places to get patriotic and watch the sky light up with spectacular fireworks. Get dolled up or dapper in your finest red, white and blue attire, then make your way to San Diego’s most festive Independence Day parades, festivals and dazzling fireworks displays at these family-friendly fourth of July events! Read on for the details.

photo: Tristan Loper via Flickr

Coastal San Diego

The Big Bay Boom July 4th Fireworks Show 
The Big Bay Boom bash 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 and Coronado Ferry Landing. 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.

photo: Nathan Rupert via Flickr

Del Beach Bash 
Get a jumpstart on 4th of July festivities at this beach party on July 1st, complete with a live music by The Mighty Untouchables, fire pits with s’mores and fireworks at 8:45 p.m. 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.

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: Nathan Rupert 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.” This year’s theme is “Julian’s Star Spangled 4th.” This year you’ll see marching bands and you can salute the Marine Color Guard. Bands include the Emerald Society Bag Pipe Band, Euphoria Brass Band (a great Dixie Land sound), Gold Drum and Bugle Corps and Mariachi Continental de San Diego. Dignitaries in the parade include: as Grand Marshal – Jim Mazzone, the first person to organize the Julian Parade, veterans from the American Legion, Mr. and Mrs. Apple Days, Miss Julian and her court and many more. Antique cars, vintage tractors, belly dancers, World War 2 Submariners, and several comedy entries will appear to complete a fun well rounded home town parade. Note: 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 
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 at 9 p.m. Event details.

Santee’s Salutes July 4th takes place at the Town Center Community Park East. The celebration will feature a kid’s fun zone, a food court and live music by the 80z All Stars. There will be a patriotic ceremony at 6 p.m. and fireworks follow later in the evening at 9 p.m. Note: Continuous free shuttle service will be available from 3:30 to 11:00pm from the Costco parking lot or on Cuyamaca near Rio Seco school the to the event site. The Costco parking offers a no cost alternative for event parking. 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 44th Annual Mira Mesa 4th of July Parade, celebrating “Saluting our Heroes,” 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. 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: City of Poway

North County – Inland

Enjoy a taste of the “good ‘ol days” with Old Poway Park’s “Old Fashioned 4th of July.”Bring your family and friends to Old Poway Park and celebrate our country’s independence “turn-of-the-20th-century-style.” This event will feature patriotic entertainment, gun fighting re-enactments, free children’s crafts, train displays and old-fashioned games. 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, clowns, jugglers and a whole host of dignitaries. 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.

Join 20,000 patriotic festival-goers for Escondido’s 55th Annual Independence Day Festival & Fireworks! This free community event features rockin’ live music, fabulous food vendors and a wealth of children’s activities and games for everyone to enjoy. The day’s festivities will conclude with a special performance by Camp Pendleton’s 1st Marine Division Band and a dazzling fireworks display starting at 9 p.m. You won’t want to miss this annual North County tradition! Note: parking is limited so carpool if possible. No alcohol, bbq, pop-up tents or dogs allowed. Event details.

San Marcos 
Head to a patriotic 4th of July celebration at Bradley Park in San Marcos. This free event includes live music, kids’ activities and food, culminating with a spectacular fireworks celebration. 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: Sandy Huffaker/LEGOLAND

North County – Coastal

Don’t miss Fireworks set to a patriotic musical tribute with great viewing in designated locations throughout the Park. Throughout the day, kids of all ages can enjoy performances, meet their favorite LEGO® Friends and Characters, and participate in all-American family picnic games, like water-balloon tosses, burlap sack races, the Family Build Challenge and LEGO Hamburger relay. New this year, a patriotic costume parade! Come dressed in your favorite Red, White and Blue attire. The celebration lasts from 1- 9 p.m. with fireworks at 8:30 p.m. All Red, White and BOOM! activities are included in the cost of admission to LEGOLAND California. Event details.

Del Mar
Spend July 4th at the San Diego County Fair! Enter the ‘Most Patriotic’ contest at 2 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. Event details.

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

––Beth Shea


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