Top 10 Ways to Celebrate Fourth of July in San Diego 2023

The “Big Bay Boom” fireworks show along San Diego Bay

From parades to fireworks displays to a festive 12K, we’ve rounded up 10 fun ways to celebrate Independence Day in San Diego.

SeaWorld San Diego’s new ride: Arctic Rescue
1) “Summer Spectacular” at SeaWorld

Ongoing. SeaWorld San Diego’s themed summertime experience, “Summer Spectacular,” runs through Aug. 20, but we recommend checking it out during the long Independence Day weekend for some added holiday fun. The park comes alive with special shows, live concerts by national headliners, the FantaSEA of Dreams fireworks spectacular and more. Entertainment includes the Summer Splashtacular Parade, The Battle for Mermaid Cove water-stunt show, and a summer-themed foodie fest. And check out the park’s newest ride: Arctic Rescue, a straddle coaster with three thrilling launches that reaches speeds of up to 40 mph. See website for hours and admission info. 500 Sea World Drive, Mission Bay, 619.222.4732

Getting into the spirit at the Crown City Classic
2) Crown City Classic 5K & 12K Run

July 4. Get your cardio on at this festive holiday weekend race. The 50th annual Crown City Classic comprises a 5K run and 12K run—in which 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 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. 2000 Mullinex Drive, Coronado

Watch the Mission Bay fireworks aboard the William D. Evans sternwheeler.
3) Mission Bay Fireworks Show

July 3. This 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, The Dana on Mission Bay, Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa and Marina, Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa, 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 experience for families. Book a special evening cruise aboard the Bahia and Catamaran’s famous sternwheeler boat, the William D. Evans, to watch the fireworks from the middle of the bay ($35 hotel guests; $45 general admission). See website for more details and public viewing areas to watch the show. 9 p.m. Along Mission Bay

4) “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

5) Coronado Fourth of July

July 4. Don your red, white and blue and head to Coronado to celebrate. Highlights of the day include the 74th 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 (2 p.m.); several concerts throughout the afternoon; and a fireworks show over Glorietta Bay (9 p.m.), viewable from the Coronado Golf Course. See website for full schedule and all locations. Orange Avenue, Coronado 

6) Julian Main Street Parade & Celebrations

July 4. Make a field trip to the quaint rural town of Julian to celebrate its 2023 theme “Century of Commitment,” inspired by the philanthropic work of the Julian Woman’s Club (this year’s grand marshal) over the last 100 years. This special Independence Day celebration is highlighted by its Main Street Parade—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 vintage airplanes; live music; a western reenactment by the Julian Doves & Desperados; two pie-eating contests; and more. Beginning at 10 a.m. (parade starts at noon). Main Street, Julian

Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego hosts its “Over the Top” party at Top of the Hyatt.
7) “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 “Big Bay Boom” 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 $230 (21+). One Market Place, downtown

8) “Red, White & BOOM!” at LEGOLAND

July 4. During the day, the kiddos and grownups alike can enjoy the park’s main attractions, such as the “LEGO® Ferrari Build and Race” experience; as well as meet-and-greets with LEGO characters, special live performances, DJ dance parties, limited-time treats, lawn games and other holiday-themed activities. After sunset, pick one of several designated viewing locations for the “Red, White & BOOM!” fireworks spectacular, complete with pre-show entertainment and special 3D viewing glasses for each guest. See website for hours and admission info. One Legoland Drive, Carlsbad, 888.690.5346

9) San Diego County Fair

July 4. It’s a patriotic celebration all day at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, also marking the last official day of the 2023 San Diego County Fair. Guests are encouraged to wear stars and stripes and enjoy the fair’s exhibits, rides, concerts, food and festivities during the day—including indulging in treats such as apple funnel cake—complete with a fireworks finale, viewable from the Corona Grandstand Stage. Gates open at 11 a.m.; fireworks show at 9 p.m. $20-$25 general admission. 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar

10) “Pier Pressure” Pre-July 4th Mega Yacht Party

July 1. Celebrate Independence Day early aboard Hornblower’s $10 million “Inspiration” luxury yacht, which has hosted SoCal’s biggest yacht party for 11 years running. The celebration includes live entertainment across the 1,200-person-capacity vessel’s multiple decks and two areas of music—including performances by four DJs, with Scooter headlining. Guests can take advantage of several fully stocked and staffed bars (with bottle service and VIP packages available); while dancing and taking in unparalleled San Diego Bay views. 5-8 p.m. (boarding begins at 4 p.m.). $29-$175 (21+). 1800 N. Harbor Drive, downtown

Photo credits: “Big Bay Boom” by Rinus Baak. Other photos are courtesy of the venues featured.


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