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Where to Celebrate the Fourth of July in San Diego 2023

14 citywide events to say happy birthday to the USA this year
Courtesy of Big Bay Boom

By SDM Staff

Big Bay Boom San Diego Fireworks

The Big Bay Boom 4th of July show in San Diego’s annual fireworks display operated from four separate barges along the San Diego Bay

Courtesy of Big Bay Boom

Oh, say can you see… the Independence Day fireworks from your front lawn? With so many firework displays occurring annually in San Diego, it’s not hard to spot the glimmer of festive explosives and hear booms from home. Sometimes, though, there’s nothing like being in the heart of all the action.

Across the county, community events offer the chance to ring in the United States’ 247th birthday with free concerts, fun activities for kids, distinctly American eats, and, of course, stunning shows featuring colorful pyrotechnics.

We’ve rounded up 14 San Diego Fourth of July events where you can say “Woo hoo!” for the red, white, and blue.

Crown City Classic 12k and 5k

Runners begin the Crown City Classic 12k in Coronado

Courtesy of the City of San Diego

July 4

Crown City Classic 12K & 5K

This Independence Day run’s 12K distance has a subtly patriotic significance: In imperial units, it clocks in at about 7.4 miles. However, competitors wanting a less-intense route can register for the 5K, while kiddos can take on the half-mile course. The races begin at 7 a.m. at Coronado Tidelands Park.

Coronado Island Independence Day Celebration

Locals flock to Coronado’s Orange Avenue as early as 4:30 a.m. to secure prime seating for the island’s annual Independence Day Parade, which begins at 10 a.m. Not a morning person? Explore Coronado’s many afternoon and evening activities, including a Navy aerial demonstration, free concerts from 3:00 p.m. to 8:45 p.m., and a fireworks show over Glorietta Bay at 9 p.m.

Luminosity Festival of Light & Drone Show

After structural issues with the pier shuttered OB’s annual fireworks display in 2018, community organizers envisioned a new, fire department–approved take on festive explosives: two light shows, one an immersive, on-the-ground experience in the Newport Avenue Business District and the other an overhead display featuring hundreds of synchronized drones. Start times are yet to be announced.

Poway 4th of July celebration

A train car sits at the cent of Old Poway Park during the city’s old-fashioned Fourth of July celebration

Courtesy of the City of San Diego

An Old-Fashioned Fourth of July

Old Poway Park transforms into a turn-of-the-20th-century Independence Day party, offering train rides and displays, kids’ crafts, frontier-era games, and Wild West reenactments and other entertainment. All are welcome at the city’s two 9 p.m. fireworks displays over the Poway High School stadium and the Poway Sportsplex—I guess this town is big enough for the two of us.

Julian Fourth of July Parade

A few weeks before Independence Day, the little town of Julian becomes a lot more red, white, and blue. The area’s parade committee decorates in anticipation of its fourth of July festivities, which include three stages of live music, an airplane flyover, a pie-eating contest, a parade, and a barbeque and dance. The fun kicks off at 10 a.m. on the big day.

San Diego County Fair Fireworks Spectacular

Spend the day riding the ferris wheel, petting cute critters, and sampling out-there county fair treats (Hot Cheeto chicken sandwich and s’more french fries, anyone?) at the Del Mar Fairgrounds before settling in front of the fair’s Corona Grandstand Stage to catch a stunning fireworks display at 9 p.m.

Ranch 45 Fourth of July BBQ

Not feeling a fair day but still want to spot its pyrotechnics? Head across the street from the fairgrounds to restaurant and butchery Ranch 45, where you can chow down on tri-tip, corn on the cob, apple crisp, and other summertime eats for $75 to $85 a person while watching the fireworks light up the sky. After the show, linger over the eatery’s holiday snack bar with coffee, hot dogs, s’mores, and bevs.

Lake Murray's 4th of July event

Lake Murray’s 4th of July event

Lake Murray Fireworks and Music Fest

SD-based band Republic of Music headlines Lake Murray Playground’s annual July 4th music festival. The event begins at 11 a.m. and also features other local bands, a scavenger hunt and games for little ones, bites and sips from vendors like Dang Brother Pizza and Seven Seas Roasting Co., and a fireworks show at 9 p.m.

Escondido Independence Day Celebration

Before the fireworks begin at 9 p.m. at Escondido’s Grape Day Park, catch a free concert featuring Navy Band Southwest’s 32nd Street Brass Band and The Urban Renewal Project, a sixteen-piece musical collective that fuses hip-hop, soul, and jazz and experiments with ancient instruments to create innovative sounds. The tunes start at 5 p.m.

Big Bay Boom

This 9 p.m. fireworks display more than earned its moniker. Erupting from four barges in the SD Bay, it’s not just the biggest in San Diego; it’s the largest in all of California. To see it, set up a lawn chair on Shelter Island, Harbor Island, North Embarcadero, Marina District, or Coronado Ferry Landing—or motor out onto the water for an even closer look.

Fourth of July Dinner Cruises

For would-be boaters who skipped their skipper training, find your sea legs and watch the bay’s firework display on a dinner cruise starting at 7 p.m. Jaunts board at 1800 North Harbor Drive and include a buffet meal and DJ-driven tunes.

Maritime Museum of San Diego July 4th Picnic & Fireworks Viewing

By day (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.), explore the Maritime Museum of San Diego to learn more about the US’s naval and seafaring history. At 7 p.m., those who nab $25 tickets to the museum’s fireworks viewing can perch on the deck of an 1898 steam ferryboat or its adjacent barge to see the pyrotechnics over the bay. For an additional $15, you’ll get a picnic box with classic American eats: hot dogs, chips, and apple pie.

SeaWorld San Diego Fireworks

Little ears and eyes will ooh and ahh at SeaWorld’s fireworks show, which is set to rousing tunes and begins at 8:50 p.m. on July 4th. (If you’d prefer to skip the crowds on the big night, you can catch the pyrotechnic display every evening between June 18 and August 13.) A Marine band will also give a special performance at the park in honor of America’s birthday.

Old Town 4th of July

Crowds gather in Old Town historic park for the 4th of July festivities

Courtesy of Old Town San Diego

Old Town Historic Park 4th of July Celebration

San Diego’s first neighborhood returns to its roots for an old-fashioned shindig. Old Town Historic Park hosts crafts, games, and kids activities inspired by America’s early days. Past years have featured potato sack races, tug-of-war, and folk dances.

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