My husband and I are planning a trip to SF starting on July 4th. If we arrive afternoon/early evening would you recommend we try to get to a viewing spot for fireworks or try to get a hotel room overlooking the Bay? I am also considering the bay cruises as those sound fun! Thank you for any input!
Hi Shannon! This is a fantastic question.
The fourth of July fireworks along the bay draw up to 150,000 people. This means it can get quite chaotic.
The fireworks start around 9:30pm and (depending on the fog) you can usually see it from several places throughout the city. Many people head down to the Marina or Fisherman's Wharf starting mid-afternoon to start grabbing places for the show.
However, the waterfront area is large, so there should be no problem finding a small area to stand or sit to watch the fireworks display. It lasts around 45 minutes, so I'd prepare to stand for at least that long. You might be back a few rows (or a block), but it won't matter since there are two boats that shoot off fireworks in unison.
With this option, I’d also recommend getting a hotel in the Fisherman’s Wharf area. Since it draws such a huge crowd, this will give you the chance to walk a short distance to see the show. You also won’t have to fight for a spot on public transportation or walk too far to your hotel after the fireworks.
The cruises are a great idea too – if you can grab a ticket in time. There are very few cruises and they sell out quickly. If you can get a ticket, this is a sure seat with one of the best views of the fireworks.
Hotels with a View
This is a great idea, but you’ll need to be very strategic about the hotel you book. There are several with views of the bay, but only a couple allow you to pay for it.
They are also very pricey. Here are two that have special rooms with views of the waterfront:
- Fairmont at Ghirardelli Square: This hotel offers apartment style living. It's a five star hotel and quite pricey, but each room has a nice outdoor area including a view of the bay. This would allow you to enjoy the fireworks outside, but in the privacy of your hotel room. Rooms range from around $600 to around $1500 a night here.
- Mandarin Oriental: This hotel is located in the Financial District, but the hotel starts on the 38th floor of the building. The Bridge to Bridge room is one of the most popular rooms and offers sweeping views of the waterfront from the Bay Bridge to the Golden Gate. Unfortunately, this also comes at a price. Rooms here start at around $500 a night and can reach up to almost $1,000 a night.
I think either heading to the waterfront or booking a cruise are your two best options. This way, you know for sure you’ll get to see the fireworks and won’t have to pay too much for a room with a view.
I hope this was helpful and let me know if you have any additional questions.