10 Places to Watch Fireworks in San Francisco for 4th of July

San Francisco knows how to do festivities, and the 4th of July is no exception. San Francisco’s scenic landscapes act as wonderfully dramatic backdrops for the Independence Day fireworks. The best part is that the prettiest places to watch the fireworks are free and open to the public, which means that you don’t have to go to an overpacked bar to celebrate July 4th.

We have compiled a list of some of the best view spots to watch the 4th of July fireworks in San Francisco (and even some in the East Bay and Peninsula, if that floats your boat). On any given day, these views are mesmerizing enough to spend an evening. But on July 4th, these dreamy tableaus are ignited and come to life in a once-in-a-year fashion.

If you’re looking for the best spot to watch fireworks in or near San Francisco this July 4th, then keep scrolling until you find the one that speaks to you.

Bernal Heights Park, San Francisco, CA

View of Downtown SF from Bernal Heights. Photo: Justin Wong, 49miles.com.
View of Downtown SF from Bernal Heights. Photo: Justin Wong, 49miles.com.

For a more low key but nonetheless mesmerizing spot to watch the Fourth of July Fireworks, make your way to San Francisco’s village-like arrondissement Bernal Heights and hike up to the summit at Bernal Heights Park. Atop the park, you’ll get a sweeping view of San Francisco and almost the entirety of the Bay. This is somewhat far from where a lot of fireworks will be launched, so the view will be a bit distanced (or, in cinema terms, “a long shot”). If you want a chiller 4th of July while still being at a world class location, you won’t regret hanging here.

Related: Beyond the Fog Belt: A Guide to Bernal Heights


Treasure Island, San Francisco, CA 

Photo: Frano Folini, Flickr, Creative Commons.
Photo: Frano Folini, Flickr, Creative Commons.

Treasure Island has unobstructed views of San Francisco’s skyline and a clear view of the East Bay from which you can spot UC Berkeley’s landmark campanile. Considering the moody vibes of Treasure Island, its devastating panoramic views, and the surrounding water on which fireworks will reflect, this island is certainly a great spot to consider to watch fireworks as so long as you’re willing the travel midway across the Bay Bridge that evening.

Lawrence Hall of Science, Berkeley, CA

Photo: David Abercrombie
Photo: David Abercrombie

Residents of the East Bay and longtime Bay locals already know that the view from the Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science offers an incomparable view of the City–it resembles Dorothy’s view of the Emerald City from the poppy field. If you want to get out of the City but still want a view of its beauty, go here. You can hike here from near UC Berkeley’s campus if you so choose (it’ll be a rigorous two hour hike to get up there), but it’ll be easier to just drive up and park. Once you arrive at the vista, you’ll wonder why you don’t spend more time in the East Bay.

Related: 9 Best Hiking Trails in the San Francisco Bay Area

Corona Heights Pa, San Francisco, CA

Photo: Fabien CAMBI, Flickr, Creative Commons
Photo: Fabien CAMBI, Flickr, Creative Commons

Corona Heights Parks offers a bit of a more distanced view of the July 4th fireworks, but it is less frequented than other popular vistas in the City. With plenty of standing room and some rocks to sit on, Corona Heights Park is perfect of a subdued but still awesome July 4th, fitting for locals and tourists alike.


Related:
Views and Victorians: Spend a Day in the New Alamo Square Park

Coit Tower, San Francisco, CA

Photo: Emily Stanchfield
Photo: Emily Stanchfield

Spend the evening at one of San Francisco’s most central historic landmarks. If you take a car to the tower, make sure to park down a couple blocks below and hike your way up, as the parking lot will for sure be packed. Once you’ve reached the grounds of Coit Tower, you’ll get a nearly birds-eye view of the San Francisco Bay. With the Coit Tower in your background and the illuminated Bay Bridge in the foreground, this is one of the most aesthetic places to watch fireworks for the 4th.

Twin Peaks Summit, San Francisco, CA

SoMa from Twin Peaks. Photo: 49miles.com
SoMa from Twin Peaks. Photo: 49miles.com

Twin Peaks is a very popular summit for view-chasers on any given day of the year. It will likely get busy on the night of Independence Day, so we recommend getting there as early as possible so you can claim some real estate before everyone else does. The popularity of Twin Peaks is totally warranted, so giving this a shot for July 4th is worth the extra effort.

Pier 39, San Francisco, CA 

Photo: Ruby Ho, Flickr, Creative Commons
Photo: Ruby Ho, Flickr, Creative Commons

The Fourth of July festivities along the Embarcadero, namely at Pier 39 and Pier 41 (or even Fisherman’s Wharf), tend to be densely populated since it is at the center of the action. If you’re looking for a more rowdy Fourth of July and want to be surrounded by lots of people, you’ll love this. This is equal parks tourist trap and quintessential San Francisco, so everyone should do it at least once.

Crissy Field, Presidio, San Francisco, CA

Photo: David Jones, Flickr, Creative Commons
Photo: David Jones, Flickr, Creative Commons

The expansive Crissy Field at the Presidio is one of the most serene and least clustered public places to hang out in San Francisco, which would thus provide a lovely respite from packed bars and tourist traps on the Fourth of July. With plenty of space and wide shots of the Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge, Crissy Field is a worthy choice for to spectate for those who want a great view with lots of legroom.

The Bay Trail, Foster City, CA

Views from the Bay Trail. Every sunset is stunning. Photo: Bill Abbott, Flickr, Creative Commons.
Views from the Bay Trail. Every sunset is stunning. Photo: Bill Abbott, Flickr, Creative Commons.

Get away from urban anxieties without having to cross a bridge or deal with Berkeley congestion. Head southbound to the suburbs to the Bay Trail in Foster City. This long levy has great eastward views on the Bay. There are plenty of spots to sit and watch fireworks along the levy so you won’t have the fight for real estate, nor will you have to fret over parking. From the Bay Trail, you’ll be able to see not only Foster City’s own fireworks, but fireworks from various cities in the East Bay and Peninsula.  


Emeryville Marina, Emeryville, CA

Photo: George Grinsted, Flickr, Creative Commons
Photo: George Grinsted, Flickr, Creative Commons

The Emeryville Marina is another one of the East Bay’s best kept secrets, offering unobstructed views of the City skyline, the Bay Bridge, and the Golden Gate, and the North Bay’s landscape. The park at the marina is an idyllic spot to unwind and relax before the fireworks if you want to spend an evening there. Considering the open views of the Bay, this will be a front row to all the fireworks that shoot over the Bay.