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Fourth of July San Francisco

Top Activities & Events for 4th of July 2016

Plan for a crazy Fourth of July in San Francisco again this year. In 2016, this popular holiday lands on a Monday, but I plan for it to still attract thousands of people to the waterfront area.

On this day, you can enjoy fireworks along the waterfront, activities all day at Pier 39 and a ferry ride around the bay.

fireworks sf bay

Beautiful fireworks over Pier 39 in SF's Fisherman's Wharf

Other popular activities this day include biking around the city, wine tasting tours, and several other fun activities throughout the day. You can also join one of the SF Public Library's free walking tours in the morning or afternoon.

The weekend is also full of fun activities with the annual Fillmore Street Festival, a free concert in Stern Grove Park and Oakland Athletics baseball just across the bay.

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Watch the Fireworks Display

fireworks displayEvery year, San Francisco holds a large fireworks display over the bay. There are two sets of fireworks, synced, to allow you to get a glimpse from all around the area.

One set at the end of the Municipal Pier. The other one is on barges in front of Pier 39.

Large parts of the SF waterfront are closed to cars due to crowds for the fireworks display. I recommend heading down early and using public transit to get to and from this area of town for the fireworks display.

The fireworks display starts shortly before 9:30pm (or once it's dark enough to start) and lasts around 30 minutes.

Click here for additional tips on attending this year's fireworks display.

In addition to San Francisco, there are a number of other cities planning large fireworks displays and festivals in the Bay Area. Click these links to find out more:

North Bay & Wine Country | South Bay & Peninsula | East Bay

Grab a Seat on a Fireworks Cruise

blue and goldThe best views of the fireworks are from a cruise on the bay. Several local ferry and boat companies offer cruises for fourth of July San Francisco.

The cruises leave the Fisherman's Wharf neighborhood about an hour or more before the fireworks start. This gives the boats a chance to get to the perfect viewing point before they start.

Here are the ferries scheduled so far for 2016. All cruises sell out quickly, so buy yours today!

IndepenDANCE Family Fireworks Cruise

  • Four-hour family friendly cruise
  • Includes a full seated buffet dinner, open bar for adults, and a DJ
  • Great seats for the annual fireworks show on the bay
  • Open air deck and climate controlled interior
  • 3 decks of outdoor space to watch the fireworks
  • Leaves Pier 3 at 8pm
  • Full price $156 | Goldstar price $99 (plus a small service fee)
  • Find tickets at a discount on Goldstar for a limited time

Hornblower's Premier Fourth of July Dinner Cruise

  • Four hour cruise, boards at 6:00pm and leaves at 7pm
  • Four-course seated meal
  • Premium hosted open bar with Champagne and after dinner liquors
  • Live entertainment
  • Business casual attire recommended
  • Tickets start at $273 per person (includes taxes, service charge & landing fees)
  • Buy your tickets for 2016 on Viator today

Blue & Gold Fireworks Cruise

  • Head out on the water and watch the fireworks display on a Blue & Gold Ferry
  • Three boats leave from SF's Pier 41: 8pm, 8:20pm, & 8:40pm
  • Two leave from Pier 39: 8:15pm (family cruise with no alcohol on board) and 8:30pm
  • One boat leaves from Tiburon: 8:30pm
  • One of the best ways to see the fireworks on the water
  • Tickets are $85 for adults, family packs for $300 - $430 depending on your family's size
  • Click here to purchase your tickets today

Red and White Fleet: 4 Cruises

  • All depart from SF's Pier 43 1/2 in Fisherman's Wharf
  • Snacks and beverages available for purchase during the cruise
  • Boats #1 and #2 leave at 7:45pm
  • Boats #3 and #4 leave at 8:15pm
  • Boarding starts 30 minutes before departure so arrive early to secure your spot on the cruise
  • Must check in a minimum of 60 minutes before your cruise departs
  • No outside food and drink allowed
  • Tickets start at $85 per person
  • Buy your tickets today

Celebrate the Day on Pier 39

pier 39 san franciscoPier 39 will again host a large fourth of July celebration. All afternoon you can listen to live music and enjoy other family friendly activities.

This year's events include special exhibits on the western side of the Pier. These are open starting at 11am.

Tainted Love takes the stage near the entrance at 5pm. Enjoy live music with them until 8pm. You can then watch the fireworks show from Pier 39 starting at around 9:15pm.

Time: 11am until after the fireworks show.

Learn More: Other Top Activities & Attractions on Pier 39

Live Music at Aquatic Park

In addition to all the fun at Pier 39, the City and County of San Francisco is also hosting live music at Aquatic Park. This event starts at 6pm with the Prince tribute band, The Purple Ones. It continues at 7:45pm with the Cheeseballs, A Bay Area Dance Party Band.

After the live music, you will be treated to the fireworks display at 9:30pm (also courtesy of the City and County of San Francisco). Admission is free. Make sure to arrive early for your spot on the lawn.

Hotel Recommendations

Are you not sure where to stay in SF? Here are several recommendations based on budget, SF district and amenities.

If you are looking for that perfect hotel, then I recommend checking out They offer a full list of the best hotels in Fisherman's Wharf and all throughout SF. Click here to grab your room for the Fourth of July celebrations in San Francisco.

Other Activities on Fourth of July San Francisco 2016

Every year, there are dozens of other fun events on Fourth of July. Here are some of the activities planned already for Fourth of July San Francisco 2016.

Cruises and other tickets are selling out QUICKLY. Book your tickets today in order to secure your spot on any of these cruises or tours.

Fourth of July Fireworks with the SF Symphony

Head down south to the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View for their annual fireworks concert with the SF Symphony. This year marks the 30th anniversary for this popular event. The show starts at 8pm with the SF Symphony playing iconic pieces from movies such as ET: The Extra Terrestrial, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The concert concludes with a spectacular fireworks display.

Tickets: On sale now

Discounted Tickets: Find a limited number of tickets at up to 50% off on Goldstar

More: Find out more about the SF Symphony

SF Giants Baseball

Celebrate Independence weekend with the American past time - baseball! The SF Giants host the Colorado Rockies on Monday at AT&T Park. The game starts at 1:05pm.

Discount Tickets: Find a limited number of tickets to this game at up to 50% off on Goldstar

All Tickets: On sale now

Learn More: Find out more about attending a game at AT&T Park


Head out on the SF Bay on a high speed adventure. The Rocketboat is a 30-minute ride that twists and turns on the water as they blast rock and roll classics. The ride is quick, but it's an experience you will never forget.

Tickets: Find tickets at up to 50% off on Fourth of July

SF Bay Sailing Cruise

Enjoy a 90-minute cruise around the bay on a catamaran. On this cruise, you will see some of SF's top attractions including the Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito, and Alcatraz Island. Choose from three departure times on the Fourth of July: 11am, 1pm, and 3pm. Snacks, beer, wine, and soft drinks are available for purchase on board.

Tickets: Buy your tickets today before they sell out!

Aquarium of the Bay

Spend some time exploring the Aquarium of the Bay on Pier 39. This interesting aquarium gives you the chance to check out all of the colorful plants and animals that live in the SF Bay. You will see jelly fish, star fish, and a couple of the small sharks as you walk through the tunnel tank. There are also some great hands on exhibits. The aquarium is open from 9am to 8pm on Fourth of July.

Tickets: Buy your tickets in advance

Learn More: Click here to learn more about visiting the Aquarium of the Bay

Free SF Library Walking Tours

The Public Library offers a number of free walking tours each day in San Francisco. So far, many of their Monday tours are still planned for Fourth of July. Here is the schedule so far:

  • 9:30am: Japanese Tea Gardens in Golden Gate Park
  • 10am: Chinatown
  • 11am: Fisherman's Wharf
  • 1pm: Japanese Tea Gardens in Golden Gate Park
  • 1:30pm: Chinatown

Click here for details and where to meet for the start of the walk.

Attractions Open on July 4th

Most SF attractions stay open for their regular hours on Fourth of July. However, a few have extended hours and a couple close.

Click here for a detailed look on the hours for all of SF's top attractions on Fourth of July.

Other Activities for Fourth of July Weekend 2016

Here are some additional things to do on Sunday before Fourth of July.

60-Minute Bay Cruises

All weekend long, head out on the SF Bay for the popular 60-minute Bay Cruise. It starts at Fisherman's Wharf. You will begin your journey by heading west toward the Golden Gate Bridge. You will see top attractions along the waterfront and then head under the famous Golden Gate Bridge. The journey then takes you back east (under the bridge for a second time) and over to Alcatraz Island. You will cruise around the island and then head back to the starting point at Fisherman's Wharf. It's a great first look at this wonderful city by the bay!

Tickets: Find tickets at up to 50% off all cruises this weekend on Goldstar

Party Cruises

There are two party cruises this Fourth of July weekend. The first sets sail on Saturday, July 2 at 9:30pm. The second one cruises the SF Bay on Sunday, July 3 at 9pm. Both offer a fun night out on the bay with live music, drinks, and more. Click the links below to find tickets at up to 50% off!

Tickets: Midnight Cruises on Saturday, July 2

Tickets: Rock the Yacht - Sunday, July 3

Free Walking Tours

SF City Guides and the SF Public Library will offers several free walking tours on Saturday, July 2 and Sunday July 3. Top tours include those about Golden Gate Bridge, the Haight Ashbury District, and the Castro.

Learn More: Discover a full list of tours the weekend of Fourth of July

Disney's Beauty & the Beast

Spend some time at the theater with your family the day before Fourth of July. You can catch this Disney classic on Sunday at noon at the Orpheum Theater. It also runs on Saturday at 5:30pm.

Tickets: Buy your tickets at up to 50% off on Goldstar

Learn More: Find a full schedule of theater performances

Fillmore Jazz Festival

One of my favorite street fairs every year is the Fillmore Jazz Festival. This free, jazz music festival is the largest of its kind on the west coast. It's held in the Pacific Heights neighborhood on Saturday, July 2 and Sunday, July 3. Head over for some great music, gourmet eats and locally produced arts and crafts.

Learn More: 2016 Fillmore Jazz Festival

Other Festivals: 2016 Festivals and Street Fairs

Alcatraz Tours

Alcatraz Island is open all weekend long. If you plan to visit, book your tickets as soon as you can as they will sell out quickly. All three days, you will find several days tours and a few night tours. The first cruise leaves at 8:45am.

Learn More: What It's Like to Visit Alcatraz

California Academy of Sciences

Do you plan to visit the California Academy of Sciences during the Fourth of July Weekend? If so, book your tickets in advance to skip the line when you arrive. The cost is the same, so plan early and save a little time during the holiday weekend.

Learn More: Tips to Visit the California Academy & Ticket Info

Stern Grove Park

Catch a free performance of the SF Symphony in Stern Grove Park. On Sunday, July 3, head over to Stern Grove for this live event that starts at 2pm. You'll want to get there early to find the perfect seat on the lawn.

Find Directions & More Details: Stern Grove Summer Concert Series

SF with Kids

Do you need more ideas to keep your kids entertained this holiday weekend? No reason to worry. You will find plenty of activities for kids, that are also fun for the entire family. Options range from the 7D Experience at Pier 39 to the hands-on science and human perception museum, The Exploratorium.

Learn More: 25 Fun Activities for Kids in San Francisco

Weather in July & What to Wear

What will the weather be like during your visit for Fourth of July San Francisco? Some visitors think it is hot and sunny in San Francisco during the summer. However, the cool ocean breezes and late day fog keeps it nice and cool.

Although it is usually nice and sunny during the day, you will want to bring along a light jacket or sweater for the fireworks display. As the sun sets, the cool breezes bring the temperatures down all around the city. Discover even more tips about what to wear in San Francisco in July.

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