From a laser show to parades to fireworks displays to a festive 12K, we’ve rounded up 10 fun ways to celebrate Independence Day and the holiday weekend in San Diego.
1) “Electric Ocean” and Fireworks Spectacular at SeaWorld
July 1-4. SeaWorld San Diego’s themed summertime experience, “Electric Ocean,” runs through Aug. 14, but we recommend checking it out this weekend for some added holiday fun. Just before sunset, the park comes alive with special lighting, music and entertainment. Guests can partake in a family-friendly dance party beneath the “waves,” complete with live DJs, performers, glowing sea creatures and attractions, and a spectacular “sea to sky” fireworks finale to end the evening. New this year: the “Adrenaline” stunt show, “Electroblast” bioluminescent musical experience, and live concerts at Bayside Amphitheater. See website for hours and admission info. 500 Sea World Drive, Mission Bay, 619.222.4732.
2) Crown City Classic 5K & 12K Run
July 2. Get your cardio on at this festive holiday weekend race. The 49th annual Crown City Classic comprises a 5K run and 12K run—the latter of which means you’ll essentially be running 7.4 miles to celebrate 7/4! The races take participants along scenic Coronado Bay, starting and finishing at Tidelands Park, and offering views of the San Diego-Coronado Bridge. The kiddos are welcome to race, too, in the Crown City Half Mile. Runners will receive a commemorative finisher medal and T-shirt. 7 a.m. (5K and 12K); 8:20 a.m. (kids half-mile). See website for all details and to register in advance (required). 2000 Mullinex Drive, Coronado.
3) Gaslamp Pre-Independence Day Laser Show
July 3. The Gaslamp Quarter Association presents an action-packed Sunday in patriotic celebration. Festivities include live DJS throughout the afternoon and evening; a special procession of Budweiser Clydesdale horses (4 p.m.); bar and restaurant specials; and a state-of-the-art, Independence Day-themed laser show (9 p.m.). See website for details and parking tips. Free general admission. Along Fifth Avenue, Gaslamp Quarter.
4) Mission Bay Fireworks Show
July 3. After a nearly 10-year hiatus (and overwhelming local community support, including a special GoFundMe campaign), Mission Bay’s July 3 fireworks are back. The annual summer holiday tradition is presented by Mission Bay Yacht Club, in partnership with surrounding Mission Bay resorts—including Bahia Resort Hotel, Paradise Point Resort and San Diego Mission Bay Resort. The properties, as well as myriad other Mission Bay businesses, each are offering special programming to make it a memorable evening for families. See website for more details and dynamic Mission Bay destinations offering packages and/or prime viewing areas to watch the show. 9 p.m. Along Mission Bay.
5) “Big Bay Boom” Independence Day Spectacular
July 4. Presented by the Port of San Diego, “Big Bay Boom” is the largest fireworks show in California. Set to a musical simulcast on 101.5 KGB-FM radio, the 20-minute spectacular spans all of San Diego Bay—visible from Shelter Island, Harbor Island, Spanish Landing, Liberty Station’s NTC Park, North Embarcadero, South Embarcadero, Cesar E. Chavez Park, Coronado Ferry Landing and Coronado Tidelands Park. (Bring lawn chairs and blankets!) 9 p.m. See website for all viewing locations. Along San Diego Bay.
6) Coronado Fourth of July
July 4. Don your red, white and blue and head to Coronado to celebrate with a full day of festivities. Highlights include the 73rd annual Independence Day Parade along Orange Avenue, featuring live music, decorated military vehicles and more (10 a.m.); an aerial demonstration by the Navy Leap Frogs; several concerts throughout the afternoon; and a fireworks show over Glorietta Bay (9 p.m.). See website for full schedule and all locations. Free.
7) Julian Main Street Parade & Celebrations
July 4. Take a field trip to the quaint rural town of Julian to celebrate “Back in Bloom,” the 2022 theme for this special Independence Day celebration. The Main Street Parade takes center stage—featuring marching bands from local schools, antique cars, vintage tractors, veterans and dignitaries, and an appearance by the Marine Color Guard. Festivities also include a flyover of four Stearman bi-planes used in World War II to start the day; live music across three stages; a pie-eating contest; a “deep pit” barbecue and dance party; and more. Beginning at 10 a.m. (parade starts at noon). Main Street, Julian.
8) “Over the Top” at Top of the Hyatt
July 4. As Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego is the West Coast’s tallest waterfront hotel, the view of the fireworks is sure to be spectacular. For an experience that is literally over the top, head to the hotel’s popular lounge, Top of the Hyatt—located 40 stories above San Diego Bay. Tickets include unparalleled views of the “Big Bay Boom” fireworks show; plus unlimited beer, wine and cocktails with premium liquor; and a themed dinner buffet, including a selection of desserts. 6-10 p.m. Starting at $215 per person. One Market Place, downtown.
9) “Red, White & Boom!” at LEGOLAND
July 4. During the day, the kiddos and grownups alike can enjoy the park’s main attractions, including the new “LEGO®Ferrari Build and Race” experience; as well as meet-and-greets with LEGO characters, special live performances and holiday-themed activities. After sunset, choose one of several designated viewing locations for a special fireworks display set to patriotic music. See website for hours and admission info. One Legoland Drive, Carlsbad, 888.690.5346.
10) San Diego County Fair Fireworks Finale
July 4. It’s a patriotic celebration all day at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, also marking the last official day of the 2022 San Diego County Fair. Guests are encouraged to wear stars and stripes and enjoy the fair’s rides, exhibits, games and festivities during the day—including indulging in treats such as apple funnel cake—complete with a fireworks finale to end the evening. 11 a.m.-9 p.m. $20-$25 admission. 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar.
Photo credits: “Big Bay Boom” opening photo by Rinus Baak. “Big Bay Boom” second photo courtesy of Port of San Diego. Other photos are courtesy of the venues featured.