Fireworks on the Blue & Gold Fleet
Seeing the fireworks that shoot and sparkle over Fisherman’s Wharf is great. Seeing it uninterrupted while sailing on the Bay is even better. Hop aboard the Blue & Gold Fleet at around 8 p.m. and take in views of both the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges, Alcatraz, and the beautiful San Francisco skyline. The cherry on the top of this sundae is the fireworks finale. Family ticket packages are available, so the whole family can make a night of it.
San Francisco Fourth of July Pub Crawl & Annual Hot Dog Eating Contest
Put on a patriotic outfit and bring an empty stomach for the SF Pub Crawl and Hot Dog Eating Contest. Get a wristband and pub crawl map at Bar None, and the party will continue to other bars on Union Street, including Blue Light, Bus Stop, and Brickyard, where celebrators can enjoy drink specials from 2 p.m. to 12 a.m., and an after-party is currently in the works.
Fillmore Jazz Festival
Don’t wait until the 4th to celebrate—head on over to the Fillmore Jazz Festival, the largest free jazz festival on the West Coast and catch some cool tunes on July 1 and 2. The fest takes over Fillmore Street, from Jackson to Eddy Streets, and this year’s theme is the “Summer of Love Revisited,” so performers will pay homage to its 50th anniversary by playing music from that iconic time.
Annual Queer As Fourth Dance Party
El Rio is putting a spin on traditional Fourth of July festivities with its Third Annual Queer As Fourth bash. The “queer resistance dance party,” happening 3 p.m.–8 p.m., features DJs, dancers, giveaways, drink specials, and food for everyone, including vegetarians and vegans (very SF, indeed). Instead of the national anthem, a QPOC speaker will talk about “radical self love in the social climate, as an act of resistance.” Proceeds from the cover will benefit MyRem, a non-profit fighting homelessness.
Free guided walking tours
Before heading to see the fireworks (or it that’s not your kind of thing), take a fun and free guided walking tour with San Francisco City Guides. Starting at 11 a.m, noon, 1 p.m. and 1:30 p.m., the tours will go over the history of favorite neighborhoods and landmarks: The Castro, Japanese Tea Garden, Pacific Heights Mansions, the Ferry Building, Golden Gate Park, and Market Street.
$10 Dolla Holla with Ying Yang Twins
Atlanta rappers Ying Yang Twins keep the party going with a 4th of July performance that will go until 1 a.m. The show at 1015 Folsom starts at 9 p.m. and has a limited number of free advance tickets; all other tickets are $10.
Fourth of July Waterfront Festival, Pier 39
Pier 39 has always offered family fun in the city. For the 4th, the waterfront locale will entertain with local bands, arts and crafts, and, of course, those sparkling fireworks, which begin around 9:30 p.m.
Oysterfest Music Festival
Another event to take in the weekend before July 4 is the Oysterfest Music Festival on July 1. Headlined by Passion Pit, the event includes live bands and DJs as well as a silent disco for those wanting to party alone yet together. A variety of food and drink options ranges from an assortment of Guinness beer, cocktails, and wine to food trucks, bites from local restaurants, and—obviously—oysters.
First Tuesday Free Admission Day at San Francisco museums
The 4th of July happens to fall on the first Tuesday of the month this year, coinciding with the day for free entry to a plethora of San Francisco museums (note that certain exhibits may have a separate entrance fee). The following museums are gratis on July 4, so supplement celebration with some artsy knowledge:
4 for the 4th of July
There’s nothing better than helping someone else while helping yourself, and a four-mile walk or run may be the healthiest way to pay homage to America. 4 for the 4th of July allows participants to exercise for four miles via choice of treadmill, gym, track, trail, or road (on their own time, July 4–July 16), and 15% of the $17 registration fee will go to HOMES FOR OUR TROOPS, an organization that builds and donates specially adapted homes for severely injured post-9/11 veterans. Sure, get a custom medal and bib for participating, but the feeling of helping our vets is a much bigger reward.