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Fourth of July San Francisco: Top Activities & Events for 4th of July 2021

Jill on a windy day at the Golden Gate Bridge

by Jill Loeffler  •

Updated: June 30, 2021

Fourth of July in San Francisco is always a busy holiday. In 2021, this popular holiday lands on a Sunday and it always attracts thousands of people to the waterfront area. 

On this day, you can enjoy fireworks along the waterfront, activities all day around Fisherman's Wharf, and a ferry ride around the bay.

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.

More fun things to do include a free concert in Stern Grove Park with the SF Symphony and both San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics baseball throughout the holiday weekend.

Fireworks over Pier 39 on the SF BayBeautiful fireworks over Pier 39 in SF's Fisherman's Wharf

Disclaimer: I receive a small commission from some of the links on this page.

Watch the Fireworks Display

Fireworks over Pier 39

NOTE: The city has confirmed that they will do the fireworks and waterfront festival in 2021.

Every 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. Visit this page to learn more.

Grab a Seat on a Fireworks Cruise

Blue and Gold SF Cruises

The 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 2021. All cruises sell out quickly, so buy yours today!

Blue & Gold Fireworks Cruise

  • Head out on the water and watch the fireworks display on a Blue & Gold Ferry
  • They will offer five boats this year that leave from either Pier 39 or Pier 41. 
  • One is a family boat (no alcohol) and it leaves at 8:10 pm
  • Other boats leave at: 7:55 pm. 8:05 pm, 8:20 pm, and 8:30 pm
  • One of the best ways to see the fireworks on the water
  • Tickets are $95 for adults and $85 for youth (5 - 16)

Freda B Fourth of July Sunset & Fireworks Sail

  • Leaves from downtown Sausalito
  • Boards at 6:45 pm and leaves at 7 pm
  • Sunset is at 8:35 pm, fireworks start around 9:30 pm (or when it's dark enough)
  • Return to Sausalito at 10 pm (approximately)
  • Food and beverage protocols will be determine two weeks before they sail and will be based on current health regulations.
  • $250 per person
  • Find tickets today

Red and White Fleet: 4 Cruises

  • Departs from SF's Pier 43 1/2 in Fisherman's Wharf
  • Offer beer, wine, as well as other alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks on board
  • One boat that departs at 8:30 pm
  • Boarding starts 30 minutes before departure so arrive early to secure your spot on the cruise
  • No outside food and drink allowed
  • Tickets start at $99 for adults, $79 for youth
  • Visit their site to book your tickets

More Fisherman's Wharf Activities for 4th of July in SF

Fisherman's Wharf Sign

Here are some of the best activities in Fisherman's Wharf for Fourth of July in San Francisco.

If you plan to head out on a cruise or a tour, these do sell out quickly, so pick up your tickets as soon as you can!

60-Minute Bay Cruises: All day and 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! Pick up your 4th of July tickets today.

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. Find your tickets today.

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. Buy your tickets in advance.

Other Open Attractions & Activities in Fisherman's Wharf on the 4th

Madame Tussauds Wax Museum: Open from 10am to 8pm, find out more about visiting.

Ripley's Believe It or Not: Step inside this Odditorium to explore its 16 galleries and more than 400 exhibits from around the world, open from 10am to 9pm on Fourth of July San Francisco.

Ghirardelli Square: Spend some time shopping and enjoying local goodies at Ghirardelli Square, visit their wine tasting room and soak in the views of the SF Bay, they will be open all day long.

More Daytime Tours & Cruises from Fisherman's Wharf

Where to Stay in Fisherman's Wharf

If you plan to spend your entire day in Fisherman's Wharf, you will find dozens of places to spend the night too. This district has a large concentration of hotels for every budget. Here are just a few of my top recommendations.

In addition to these, I've also pulled together some additional recommendations for you here. They are organized by budget so you can quickly find one that will work for you.

If you are ready to book, then click the links below to check out some of the best hotels deals in this district and all around SF.

BookingFind great deals all around San Francisco for your upcoming stay

TripAdvisorWhat's the #1 hotel in San Francisco? Read reviews & find hotel deals on TripAdvisor!

Other Activities on Fourth of July San Francisco 2021

Other 4th of July Activities

Every year, there are dozens of other fun events on Fourth of July all around the city and beyond. Here are some of the activities planned already for Fourth of July San Francisco 2021.

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.

Oakland A's Baseball: Celebrate Independence weekend with the American past time - baseball! The Oakland A's host the Boston Red Sox at the Coliseum. The Fourth of July game starts at 1:07pm. Find tickets to this seriesFind out more about attending a game.

California Academy of Sciences: The California Academy of Sciences, our most visited museum, is now open 365 days a year! This means you can spend the day inside this interactive museum as you explore their rainforest, see a show in the planetarium, or stop by to say hi to their rare white alligator. Pick up your tickets in advance, so you don't have to wait in line.

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 Tuesday tours are still planned for Fourth of July. Here is a full schedule for this holiday.

Free Concert in that Park at Stern Grove: Catch a free performance at Stern Grove Park. This year, their performance is on Fourth of July with the SF Symphony performing. You must get tickets in advance. Tickets are free and will be available at 2 pm, 12 days before the performance. The show start at 2pm. Stern Grove Summer Concert Series.

More Attractions Open on July 4th 

More open attractions on the 4th of July

Most SF attractions stay open for their regular hours on Fourth of July San Francisco. I've listed some above already and here are a few more options for you to check out throughout SF.

Asian Art Museum: Interesting art on display from Asian countries such as China, Japan and Indonesia, open from 10am to 5pm, learn more about visiting. This is also the day of their free admission day, so make sure to pick up tickets in advance on their site to enter for free!

Alamo Square: Free San Francisco attraction that is open all day long, it's best to visit after 1pm when the sun is shinning on it, see what it's like to visit

Exploratorium: This fun hands-on science and human perception museum is open, more on what it's like to visit, pick up tickets before your visit

de Young Museum: One of our two fine arts museums that focuses on pieces from the Americas, Africa and beyond, more on visiting.

Legion of Honor: Our other fine arts museum with pieces from Europe, more on visiting.

Twin Peaks: Free attraction with the best views of San Francisco and the surrounding areas, open until midnight, a popular place to watch the fireworks but there is very little parking, pictures and more tips to visit

Walt Disney Family Museum: This museum all about Walt Disney is also open on Fourth of July San Francisco, see early pieces of his work, the history of how he built his company and other pieces about his life, learn more about visiting here

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

More Fun Tours on Fourth of July San Francisco

Whale Watching

There are plenty of fun things to do all around town on Fourth of July San Francisco. These are just a few of the top tours scheduled to run this holiday. 

City Walking Tour & Bay Cruise: This fun day long adventure offers you the chance to see some of SF's top districts in the morning and then set off on a bay cruise in the afternoon. You'll also ride on one of our historic cable cars. The tour stops in Nob Hill, Chinatown, and Fisherman's Wharf. Make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes as you'll get quite a few steps in during this adventure. This tour is about 6 hours along (plus the one hour bay cruise). Find availability and ticketing information

Bay Sailing Tour with Drinks: Head out on the water on Fourth of July. This day cruise offers you the chance to sit back, relax, and watch the scenery roll by. You'll start in Fisherman's Wharf, cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge, near Alcatraz, and finish where you started. It also includes two drinks with each ticket. Find out more here

Vista Helicopter Tour: There is no better way to see San Francisco than from above! This 15 to 20 minute helicopter tour is like no other. You'll cruise above the SF Bay, over the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and the SF Skyline. Find out more here

Other Activities for Fourth of July Weekend 2021

Alcatraz Island covered in fog

Here are some additional things to do on the days before or after Fourth of July San Francisco.

SF Giants Baseball: The San Francisco Giants return home on Monday, July 5 for a three game home series against the St. Louis Cardinals. Don't miss your chance to cheer on our Giants baseball team in one of the most beautiful parks in the US. Find tickets for this series

Free Walking Tours: SF City Guides and the SF Public Library offers several free walking tours every day. Top tours include those about Golden Gate Bridge, the Haight Ashbury District, and the Castro. Discover a full list of tours the weekend of Fourth of July.

Comedy at Cobb's: You will also find some great comedy almost every night this month at Cobb's Comedy Club in North Beach. This venue features both local and international acts. Learn more here

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. 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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