42 ways to celebrate July 4 in San Diego County with fireworks and parades

Fireworks shows take place all over San Diego County.
(The San Diego Union-Tribune)

On July 4 — the country’s 243rd birthday— families, friends and neighboring towns will celebrate our nation’s birth with picnics, barbecues, parades, outdoor concerts and fireworks. However you plan on celebrating this festive American tradition, here’s a guide (although not comprehensive) to events happening around the county that are sure to have you signing “Hurrah for the red, white and blue.” Please note that several communities are celebrating Independence Day early.

Biggest bang for your fireworks buck

Big Bay Boom Over San Diego Bay: Without question, this annual show is one of the biggest fireworks displays in the region. Since 2001, San Diegans have oohed and aahed at the colorful, majestic rounds of illuminations launched from four barges strategically place around San Diego Bay. Onlookers will find plenty of seating along the bay — Shelter Island, Harbor Island, North Embarcadero, Marina District and the Coronado Ferry Landing. The accompanying score will be simulcast on Star 94.1, Channel 93.3, Jam’n 95.7, 101.5 KGB, Rock 105.3, News Radio 600 KOGO and Xtra Sports 1360. If crowds aren’t your thing, you can watch this extravaganza at home — live — from 8 to 9:30 p.m. on Fox 5 San Diego or KTLA 5 Los Angeles. Check the website for information about transportation options, parking and free shuttles. 9 p.m. July 4. Multiple locations along San Diego Bay. Free.

Escondido Independence Day Festival & Fireworks: About 25,000 festivalgoers will gather at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido and nearby Grape Day Park in anticipation of the 56th annual Independence Day celebration. The day commences with a presentation by Escondido’s American Legion Post 149, VFW Post 1513 and DAV Chapter 70 to honor our nation’s veterans, as well as a special rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” by the winner of the Center’s National Anthem Singing Competition. Local performers, including Anthony “Fallbrook Kid” Cullins, Rosa’s Cantina and UPSTREAM, will take the stage during the day, and at night, the crowd will be entertained by the music of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Band, followed by the fireworks show. Other festival highlights: food trucks lined along Broadway Avenue, children’s activities and games for all ages, including inflatables and extraordinary chalk art workshops. Throughout the day, you can watch four different matches at the SoCal Pro Wrestling ring. July 4. Starts at 4 p.m. , with fireworks at 9 p.m. California Center for the Arts, Escondido, 340 N. Escondido Blvd., Escondido. Free.

Coronado 4th of July Celebration: Just across San Diego Bay is Coronado, where daylong celebrations include a 5K Run Walk and 12K Run at Tidelands Park, and the 61st annual Rough Water Swim competitions at Central Beach. The annual Independence Day parade steps off along Orange Avenue at 10 a.m., but you can claim your spot as early as 5 a.m. for this popular attraction. Explore the Art in the Park art show from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Spreckels Park and end your day there by listening to a performance by the Coronado Community Concert Band at 4 p.m. Fireworks will explode over Glorietta Bay at 9 p.m., accompanied with music by radio station 96.5 FM. Tip: Organizers suggest walking or biking to the Coronado Municipal Golf Course or Stingray Point for the best viewing advantage. 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. July 4 Spreckels Park and Glorietta Bay, Coronado. Free.

El Cajon 4th of July Fireworks and Picnic: Dress in your Yankee Doodle finest and join El Cajon residents in celebration of Independence Day with free carnival games and prizes, kiddie train rides, free crafts and family picnic games, and food vendors. The Patrick Howard Trampus Band performs from 3 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. and the Rockin’ Soul All Stars amp it up from 6:15 p.m. to 9 p.m. July 4. Starts at 2 p.m., with fireworks at 9 p.m. Kennedy Park, 1675 E. Madison Ave., El Cajon. (619) 441-1676.

National City Fourth of July Carnival and Fireworks: The National City Host Lions Club invites you to celebrate Independence Day with five days of carnival fun complete with rides, games, food and entertainment, including musical acts, contests and the Miss National City Pageant. A fireworks display wraps up the festivities at 9 p.m. on July Fourth. 5 to 11 p.m. July 3; 12 p.m. to midnight, with fireworks at 9 p.m. July 4; 3 to 11 p.m. July 5; 1 to 11 p.m. July 6-7. Kimball Park, 12th Street and D Avenue, National City. Free admission. (619) 336-4241.

More fireworks shows


Mira Mesa 4th of July Parade and Family Fun Day in the Park: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mira Mesa Community Park, Mira Mesa Boulevard and New Salem Street, San Diego. The 45th annual event features a pancake breakfast, parade, Kid’s Zone, food vendors and entertainment, and fireworks at 9 p.m.

Above the Fireworks: 6 to 10 p.m. July 4. Cabrillo National Monument, 1800 Cabrillo Memorial Drive, Point Loma. $50 per vehicle (up to 10 people); $40 for CNMF members per vehicle (up to 10 people). Tickets available online at or at the Visitor Center.

Big Bay Boom: 9 p.m. July 4. Multiple locations along San Diego Bay. Free.

Ocean Beach July 4th Fireworks: 9 p.m. July 4. Ocean Beach Pier, at the end of Newport Avenue, Ocean Beach. Free.

SeaWorld San Diego 4th of July Fireworks Show: 9:40 p.m. July 4. SeaWorld San Diego, 500 SeaWorld Drive, San Diego.


Pala Independence Day Kickoff Celebration and Fireworks: 8:30 p.m. June 29. Pala Casino and the Pala Band of Indians celebrate the nation’s birthday with various events, starting with a fireworks display at dusk. Music will be simulcast on Rez Radio 91.3 FM. Jim Banks Sports Complex, 12196 Pala Mission Road, Pala. Free parking at the complex.

Oceanside Red, White & Blue Bash (WEDNESDAY): 7 to 10 p.m. July 3. Bring a beach chair to view the Oceanside fireworks show with music, food trucks and games for kids. Grace Church patio and parking lot, 1602 S. El Camino Real, Oceanside. (760) 433-9922.

Oceanside 131st Anniversary and Independence Day Fireworks Show (WEDNESDAY): 9 p.m., July 3. Live music and food trucks. El Corazon Park, Rancho Del Oro Road, between Mesa Drive and Oceanside Boulevard, Oceanside. Arrive at the park anytime after 6 p.m. Limited parking in the Ocean Ranch Business Park. Bring a chair. (760) 435-5041.

Camp Pendleton Del Mar Beach Bash: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a Fireworks Show Finale at 9 p.m. July 4. Celebration for authorized military and their families with carnival games, contests, tribute to heroes video and family fun zone along with music and food at the base’s Del Mar Beach Resort. Military ID card required.

Rancho Bernardo Spirit of the Fourth: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. July 4. Festivities include a community fair and car show, the Larry Himmel Patriotic Pet Contest and a Veterans’ Memorial Service at Webb Park off Bernardo Center Drive. The parade, with past grand marshals, starts at 3:30 p.m. in downtown Rancho Bernardo. The “Sky Concert” fireworks get under way at 9 p.m. in the athletic field at Bernardo Heights Middle School, 12990 Paseo Lucido. Gates open at 6 p.m. $10 per person or $20 per family. Bring chairs. Parking is free in the student parking lot off Avenida Venusto. Food will be sold.

San Diego County Fair’s Independence Day Festivities and Fireworks Spectacular: 10 a.m. to close July 4. What better way to celebrate the Fourth of July than on the last day of the fair. The Oz-some fun continues with a Hometown Heroes parade starting at 12:30 p.m. at the O’Brien Gate (main gate). Thrill-seekers will find a gamut of rides, including the Ferris wheel, at the Fun Zone open until midnight. Evening entertainment features the 1st Marine Division Band/Marine Corps Air Station Color Guard at 7:30 p.m. The Fireworks Grand Finale, choreographed to a soundtrack, launch around 9 p.m. at the Corona Grandstand Stage. Del Mar Fairgrounds, 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar. Included with fair admission.

Carlsbad Legoland “Red, White and BOOM!”: 1 to 9 p.m., with fireworks show at 8:30 p.m. July 4. Independence Day festivities include picnic games like water balloon toss, sack races, Lego hamburger relay and building challenge along with performances and patriotic costume parade. Come dressed in red, white and blue. Legoland California, One Legoland Drive, Carlsbad. Included in the cost of admission. (760) 918-5436.

Escondido Independence Day Fireworks: 9 p.m. July 4. California Center for the Arts, Escondido, 340 N. Escondido Blvd., Escondido. Free.

San Marcos 4th of July Fireworks Extravaganza: 6 p.m., with fireworks at 9 p.m., July 4. Free entertainment featuring Liquid Blue, a dance-party band, carnival games, jumpers, live music and food. Bradley Park, 1587 Linda Vista Drive. Free.

Poway Fireworks: 9 p.m. July 4. Poway High School stadium, 15500 Espola Road. Festivities include games, activities and a DJ. Gates open at 6 p.m. Admission is $5 per person at the gate; free for kids 11 and under.

Vista Independence Day Fireworks: 9 p.m. July 4. The evening includes a Military Salute starting at 7:15 p.m., followed by the Sensation Showband at 7:35 p.m. Parking is $15 per car; $30 per recreational vehicle. Admission to the amphitheatre is $5 per person; free to children 5 and under, active and retired military members and their immediate family. Moonlight Amphitheatre in Brengle Terrace Park, 1200 Vale Terrace Drive. The park opens at 7 a.m.; gates open to the amphitheater open at 5 p.m.


Lake Murray Music Fest & Fireworks: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. July 4. Lake Murray Community Park, 7001 Murray Park Drive, San Diego. Free.

El Cajon 4th of July Fireworks: 9 p.m. July 4. Kennedy Park, 1675 E. Madison Ave., El Cajon. Free. (619) 441-1676.

Santee Salutes Fourth of July: 2:30 to 10 p.m, with fireworks at 9 p.m., July 4. Kid’s Fun Zone open throughout the event.; patriotic ceremony at 6 p.m.; and live music by 80z All Stars. Parking is $10 per car (no in/out priviledges). Free shuttle service 3:30 to 11 p.m. from Costco parking lot or on Cuyamaca Street near Rio Seco school. Town Center Community Park East, 550 Park Center Drive.


National City Fourth of July Fireworks: 9 p.m. July 4. Kimball Park, 12th Street and D Avenue, National City. Free admission. (619) 336-4241.

Chula Vista 4th Fest: Fireworks start at 9 p.m. July 4. Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center, 2800 Olympic Parkway, Chula Vista. Parking is $10. Free parking available at New Hope Church, 2720 Olympic Parkway, Chula Vista. Alternate viewing location is Mountain Hawk Park, 1475 Lake Crest Drive, Chula Vista. Free.

Imperial Beach Independence Day Fireworks: 7 p.m. to about 9:30 p.m., with fireworks at 9 p.m. July 4. Portwood Pier Plaza, 10 Evergreen Ave., Imperial Beach.


Fireworks Over Glorietta Bay: 9 p.m. July 4. Along Strand Way. For viewing advantage, watch them from the Coronado Municipal Golf Course or Stingray Point. Music simulcast on KyXy 96.5 FM.

More Fourth events, no fireworks

Oceanside Independence Day Parade (SATURDAY): 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. June 29. Floats, bands, walking groups and cars head north on Coast Highway 101 from 101 Cafe at Wisconsin Avenue to City Hall at Civic Center Drive, Oceanside.

Carlsbad Fourth of July Family Fun (WEDNESDAY): 4 to 7 p.m. July 3. Activities include themed crafts, stories and more. Dove Library, 1775 Dove Lane, Carlsbad. (760) 602-2049.

Scripps Ranch 4th of July Run & Ride: 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. July 4. Red Cedar Drive and Aviary Drive, San Diego. Fees: $15-$55.

Alpine 4th of July Parade & Festival: 10 a.m. July 4. The parade marches from West Victoria down Alpine Boulevard to Tavern Road. The festival takes place after the parade at the Alpine Community Center Park with games booths, jumpy house, a live band, magic show, food and more.

Oceanside Beach and Pier Festivities: 10 a.m. July 4 in the plazas, parks and parking lots along the Strand from the Pier to Tyson Park. Booths and activities, including kids amusements in the Pier Amphitheatre and a range of food vendors. Retail vendors will be in the Pier Plaza and parking lot south of the Pier Amphitheatre. Strand Roadway by the beach will be closed to cars at 10 a.m.

Julian 4th of July Parade: 10 a.m. to noon. July 4. The parade includes antique cars, vintage tractors, marching bands, the Marine Color Guard, dignitaries (past and present), Miss Julian and her Royal Court, performing groups, the unfurling of the American flag and more. Main Street, downtown Julian. Free.

Scripps Ranch 49th annual “Sounds of Freedom” Parade: 10 a.m. July 4. Red Cedar Drive and ends at Scripps Ranch Boulevard and Aviary Drive by Hoyt Park, San Diego. After parade festivities at 11 a.m. at Hoyt Park, Canyon Lake Drive.

San Diego Botanic Garden 4th of July Parade: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 4. Children and their families (wear red, white and blue) are invited to bring decorated strollers and wagons (no bikes) to be a part of its annual holiday procession. Meet at Seeds of Wonder at 10 a.m., with the parade stepping off promptly at 10:30 a.m. After the parade, guests are encouraged to walk the grounds and enjoy the multitude of flora at this urban oasis. San Diego Botanic Garden, 230 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas. Included with paid admission or SDBG membership. The Garden will close at 5 p.m. (760) 436-3036.

Poway Old-Fashioned Fourth of July: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 4. Patriotic entertainment, western re-enactments, free crafts, train display and old-fashioned games. Free admission; nominal fee for treats and train rides. Free shuttles from Poway City Hall parking lot, 13325 Civic Center Drive and Poway Adult School parking lot, 13626 Twin Peaks Road. Old Poway Park, 14134 Midland Road.

Lake San Marcos Stars, Stripes & a Lot of Fun: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 4. Festivities open with a Color Guard introduction, Pledge of Allegiance and patriotic music sing-along. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., visitors can participate in sack races, face painting and a host of contests, including pie-eating and watermelon-eating. Food and drinks will be available for purchase from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Lakehouse Hotel and Resort lawn area, 1025 La Bonita Drive, San Marcos. Free; pay as you play.

Mission Hills Fourth of July Celebration: 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. July 4. Pioneer Park will be decked out in red, white and blue for its patriotic fest featuring a parade, costume contest, a pie-baking contest, games and live music by The Mockery. 1521 Washington Place, San Diego.

Old Town 1800s Fourth of July: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 4. Highlights include a parade, square dancing, crafts, activities, and a pie eating contest. Old Town State Historic Park, 4002 Wallace St., San Diego. (619) 220-5422.

Oceanside Yankee Doodle Dinghy Parade: 1 to 3 p.m. July 4. Dozens of dinghies will sail around the north end of Oceanside Harbor at the Oceanside Yacht Club’s 18th annual Dinghy Parade. Open to all ages, the only criteria is that you decorate a dinghy (12 feet and under) in its patriotic best. There’s no entry fee, and trophies will be awarded. Register at the yacht club office before July 4 or at the skippers meeting at 10 a.m. held at the yacht club at 1950 Harbor Drive N. (760) 722-5751.

Maritime Museum 4th of July Picnic Dinner and Fireworks Viewing: A buffet dinner will be served on the upper deck interior of the 1898 Victorian-era steam ferryboat Berkeley, with a choice of two sittings: 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Fireworks may be viewed from the observation deck starting at 9 p.m. Dinner tickets: $45 per adult; $20 per child 12 and under; includes admission to the museum and art exhibits.