Best local San Diego Fourth of July Ideas, Activities and Fireworks views

Marshmallow fights, fun on the sea, 16 passenger bicycles…

in San Diego the possiblities are endless.

Here are some good unique ideas from a San Diego local:

1) Join the largest Marshmallow fight in the West.

It’s an Ocean Beach tradition that after the Fireworks display on Fourth of July, a huge display of hurtling marshmallows follows by the OB pier. It’s a tradition that’s been going on since 1985 which started with two rival families who hosted 4th of July parties. One year one of the families decided to take the marshmallows they were about to roast over the BBQ and go Rambo on the other family’s party. The next year, the other family got revenge and every year afterwards its become a huger and huger marshmallow fight.

Read more about the origins of the fight…

2) Rent a boat.

The best fireworks show I ever saw was the year my family and I decided to rent a 12 passenger boat for four hours to watch the fireworks. We paid probably around $50 each. You don’t need any special license to drive it, just a drivers license. We picked up the boat from Seaport Village around 4pm and cruised around the bay for awhile and ate the pizza and drinks we brought on board. Around 9pm, the sky lit up around us with a 360 degree view of fireworks since we were simultaneously watching fireworks from the San Diego Harbor to the east, Coronado to the west, Imperial Beach in the South and SeaWorld from the North. It was spectacular! We tuned in our portable radio to FM channel 105.7 to catch the patriotic music synchronized to the Big Bay Boom Fireworks show.

You can also rent boats at Mission Bay, Coronado and La Jolla Shores.


Book now.

Bring food onboard. Driver of boat cannot drink alcohol. It is considered a DUI.

Dress warmly.

Mind the wake zones (we didn’t know what they were and we sped by making large waves and people on the houseboats got really mad at us..)

Park away from Seaport Village and take the trolley in.

Get there early. The area is jammed with people, parking is difficult and public transportation is packed.

3) Take a Cruise / (Booze) Cruise

There are several cruises around town. Some with alcohol and some without.

  • The Hornblower hosts the “Rock the Boat Independence Day Cruise” which is pretty pricey but includes:

– Open Bar
– Complimentary Champagne
– Complimentary snacks
– A gorgeous sunset
– Top 40/House music DJ
– Dance floor
– Impeccable view of Firework show
– Perfect for Couples or friends alike.

  • My favorite is the Bahia Belle Sternwheeler on Mission Bay. It costs $15 and you can get on and off at it’s two ports at either the Bahia Hotel near Mission Beach or the Catamaran near Pacific Beach. From the top deck, you get an amazing view of the Sea World fireworks. There’s a bar and live music on the second deck. All ages welcome except on the second floor…
  • At the Bahia Hotel, there is a more formal cruise aboard the William D Evans sternwheeler kicking off at 8 p.m and ends at midnight. $30 will get you 2 DJs, cash bars, two dance floors, and three decks from which to view the night’s fireworks. 21+ only. Living social has a deal right now for half off.

4) Rent a bike

Social Cycle San Diego  has really cool 16 passenger bikes where you can do a bike tour and drink beer together. Read the next blog entry for a better idea of  what the social cycle is like..

5) Find a great view:

  • Porto Vista Hotel’s rooftop and also their restaurant The Glass Door have great views of the Harbor.
  • Fiesta Island
  • All along Crown Point are great views of Mission Bay fireworks
  • Bird Rock Park
  • All the hotels around Seaport Village and Gaslamp are good bets: Hard Rock, IVY, Stingaree all have rooftop areas. The Hyatt and Marriott Convention Center also have good viewing.
  • Tidelands Park Coronado
  • Shelter Island, Harbor Island, Point Loma, Spanish Landing, Embarcadero Marina Parks North and South,with free shuttles to and from parking lots

Most crowded places:

All the Beaches, Seaport Village, Coronado.

San Diego Fourth of July Fireworks schedule and locations:


Family Friendly activities|62|64|68|70/july-4th-celebration-in-pioneer-park.html

Old Town $5 Family Jazz BBQ

Don’t forget:

No alcohol is permitted on any beaches. Don’t try to hide them in other containers, the police have a scanner that they can use to detect if there is alcohol in the container.

Have a great time with your loved ones celebrating our freedom!!

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