Your Guide to the 2023 Fourth of July Fireworks in San Diego

Here’s where to catch the best pyrotechnic displays this Independence Day.

San Diegans love our pyrotechnics, even when they don’t exactly go according to plan. We’ll light up the sky on any given night, whether for a Padres win, a concert by the bay, or Independence Day. This year, San Diego commemorates our nation’s birthday with dozens of parades, picnics, beach parties, festivals, and fireworks displays across the county, from Oceanside to Imperial Beach. Grab your sunscreen, soak up some rays, drink your beer, and snuggle under a blanket while watching the dazzling displays after sunset. We’ve rounded up all the best places for you to catch every jaw-dropping moment.

Where should I pregame?

As you’re undoubtedly aware, San Diego has no shortage of bars at which to tipple. For the Fourth of July, elevate your game by hitting up some of San Diego’s best rooftops, or if you need some immediate picks, check out Eppig Brewing in Point Loma for cold beer and sizzling views of the Big Bay Boom, gaze at the Oceanside Pier from Hello Betty Fish House, or head to La Jolla and Catania for quality Italian food alongside signature cocktails.

Just a reminder:

Before you include your pet in the celebrations, check the venue to ensure they are welcome. Fireworks and noisy crowds are frightening for some animals, and many venues prohibit them from attending fireworks displays and festivals for their own safety and well-being. For additional information on how to keep your pets safe and stress-free during Independence Day celebrations, consult the Humane Society’s website.

SeaWorld San Diego
SeaWorld San Diego

San Diego

Downtown and surrounding areas
Time: 9 pm
San Diego’s Big Bay Boom, one of the largest pyrotechnic displays on the West Coast, is a spectacular show with rockets launching simultaneously from four coordinated barges, strategically located around the North San Diego Bay and choreographed to a live music simulcast on 101.5 KGB, plus a live televised broadcast on Fox 5 (San Diego) and KTLA 5 (Los Angeles). Free, prime viewing spots include the shores around Point Loma, Shelter Island, Harbor Island, Liberty Station, Spanish Landing, Little Italy, the North Embarcadero, Seaport Village, the South Embarcadero, and the Coronado Ferry Landing, as well as by boat.
Parking: People arrive early to picnic and spend the day on the water, so parking around the bay fills up fast. Use this handy guide for public transportation, ride-sharing, parking, and shuttle information.

Pacific Beach
Time: Ten minutes before the park closes
SeaWorld celebrates Independence Day with Ignite, a 15-minute fireworks display set to a musical soundtrack. The show is free with your admission ticket and is visible from anywhere in the park. You can also purchase reserved seating for the show at the Bayside Amphitheatre and the Sea Lion Amphitheatre.
Parking: $30 per car, $50 for up-close parking, and $70 for VIP parking.

Time: 9 pm
Coronado’s Independence Day celebration is a full weekend that’s jam-packed with fun things to do, beginning with a rough water swim in 400 yards (12 and under), half-mile, and one-mile distances on Saturday, July 1. Circumnavigate the island by bicycle on Monday, July 3 at 6 pm, (meet up at Star Park) for spectacular sunset views. Get there early on Monday, July 4, to stake out your spot for the Independence Day Parade, then head to the Crown City Classic 12K Run and 5K Run/Walk, or enjoy pre-parade entertainment along the parade route. Capping the day off is a fireworks display over Glorietta Bay, complete with a soundtrack broadcast by KYXY 96.5. Locals like to bike or walk to the Coronado Golf Course or Stingray Point for top-notch viewing. Of course, you can also go to the Ferry Landing side of Coronado to view the Big Bay Boom.
Parking: Unless you live on Coronado Island, finding street parking is notoriously difficult, so consider carpooling, ride-sharing services, or taking the ferry over (your bike rides free).

San Diego County Fair
San Diego County Fair

North Coastal

Del Mar
Time: 9 pm
The San Diego County Fair goes out with a bang and a breathtaking fireworks program. Enjoy a full day at the fair and fireworks, visible from most areas of the Fairgrounds, with your entry fee, or purchase a reserved ticket in the grandstand for premiere seating.
Parking: On-site: $20-50 per car or motorcycle (no vehicles over 27-feet in length). Free off-site parking at Torrey Pines High School with shuttle service, or take public transportation.

Time: 8:30 pm
Grab the kids and head to Legoland for the day. Enjoy over 60 rides, shows, and attractions, then top it off with an awe-inspiring fireworks display set to a patriotic musical tribute with great viewing in designated locations throughout the park.
Parking: On site, $30/car or motorcycle, $50/motorhomes, oversized vans and vehicles with trailers. Preferred parking is $50 per car.

Time: 9 pm
On Monday, July 3, the city of Oceanside has a double celebration; Independence Day and the 135th anniversary of Oceanside’s incorporation. Spend the day at a free, family-friendly event at So Cal Soccer Complex on El Corazon. Arrive anytime after 5 pm for live entertainment, a family fun zone with inflatables, a picnic area, and food vendors. Fireworks start at 9 pm, with live entertainment after. Sorry, no dogs or alcohol permitted at the event.
Parking: $12/car at the SoCal lot. Free parking is available in the nearby Ocean Ranch Business Park. RVs and buses are not permitted.

escondido fourth of july celebration
California Center for the Arts, Escondido

North Inland

Time: 9 pm
The City of Escondido is bringing back their Independence Day fireworks show, with the California Center for the Arts hosting an afternoon of fun, free activities including a concert with country music star Lorrie Morgan, followed by the Third Marine Aircraft Wing Band. Other entertainment includes face painters, craft activities and games for the kids, plus food and merchant vendors who will be set up in the park and food trucks lining Broadway Avenue. A limited number of VIP tickets are available for purchase from the CCAE's website. Enjoy the show from anywhere in central Escondido—locals like to gather in Grape Day Park, which will be open late for the event, with the usual regulations—no dogs, BBQs, or alcohol.
Parking: Free but limited, so consider carpooling or using ride share services.

Time: 9 pm
The gates to the Poway High School Stadium open at 6 pm for games, activities, and a live DJ to keep you entertained before the skies light up with fireworks over the stadium as well as the Poway Sportsplex at 9 pm. Entry to the stadium is $5, but kids 11 and under get in free. Registration is not required; you’ll pay at the gate. Parking maps for the viewing areas are available online.
Parking: Free.

Rancho Bernardo
Time: 9 pm
The Spirit of the Fourth Community Fair returns once again to beautiful Webb Lake Park, opening at 9 am with an array of food vendors, food trucks, drinks, handicrafts, and other items. Activities include a car show, a patriotic pet costume contest, a parade, and a veterans memorial service. At 6 pm, the gates to the fireworks show open at the Athletic Field of Bernardo Heights Middle School. A donation of $10 per person or $20 for a family is requested at the entrance to support the fireworks show and entertainment. Note: The fair and the fireworks take place at different venues—allow plenty of time so you don’t miss out on anything.
Parking for the fair: Free parking is available at office buildings in the vicinity, but avoid parking in the Pearl Chinese Restaurant parking lot.
Parking for the fireworks: Free in the student parking lot off Avenida Venusto.

Time: 9 pm
Celebrate the Fourth of July in Vista at the Moonlight Amphitheatre at Brengle Terrace Park. The amphitheater opens at 5pm, with $5 admission paid at the door. While alcohol is not permitted in the park, food and adult beverages will be available for purchase from Bread and Cheese Eatery, the Moonlight’s concessionaire, or you can bring your own picnic and non alcoholic beverages. The Cassie B Project performs at 7:45 pm as well as after the extravagant fireworks display.
Parking: Free

Lake Murray Fireworks
Lake Murray Fireworks

East County

La Mesa
Time: 9 pm
Head to Lake Murray Playground for an all day music festival starting at 11 am. There’s organized games for the kids and a day-long scavenger hunt played in between music sets on the park lawn. The entertainment lineup includes Republic of Music, Big Time Operator, The Jackals, and Whisky State of Mind. Bring a picnic, or purchase food from one of the pop-up vendors like Doggos Gus and Dang Brothers Pizza. The fireworks can be seen from a number of viewpoints from La Mesa to Del Cerro and beyond.
Parking: Free parking is available near the baseball fields west of the park venue. ADA spaces are reserved along the round driveway at the entrance to the baseball fields and adjacent to Murray Park Drive.

Time: 9 pm
The gates at Olive Peirce Middle School open at 4 pm, so come early and bring your picnic dinner, non-alcoholic beverages, chairs, and blankets to stake your claim in the grassy areas for one of East County’s best fireworks displays, set to music from Star 94.1 FM.
Parking: Free parking is available at the school and in the surrounding neighborhood. Observe the no parking signs along Hanson Street, Ramona Street, H Street, and San Vicente Road.

El Cajon
Time: 9 pm
Honor Independence Day in El Cajon with a good old-fashioned picnic at John F. Kennedy Park, Rec Center & Skate Park. The Fourth of July event starts at 2 pm, with train rides, arts and crafts, family games and live bands, with fireworks kicking off at 9 pm. Arrive early to find the best spot for your picnic and to view the show.
Parking: Free parking at JFK Park and surrounding areas.

Time: 9 pm
Santee salutes our nation’s birthday at Town Center Community Park East, beginning at 2 pm with a carnival fun zone, live music by the 80z All Stars, and plenty of food vendors. The evening concludes with East County’s best fireworks show.
Parking: $10/car for on-site parking (advance purchase required) with no in and out privileges.

City of Chula Vista Government
City of Chula Vista Government

South Bay

Chula Vista
Time: 9 pm
Chula Vista’s Fourth Fest is held at the splendid Elite Athlete Training Center, with gates opening at 7 pm; the event is free and open to the public. Find your perfect spot to watch the fireworks and tune in to Magic 92.5 for specially coordinated music. Even if it’s warm during the day, the evening weather can be cool in this neighborhood, so bring blankets and cozy clothing to layer on.
Parking: Free at the training center and at New Hope Church at 2720 Olympic Parkway.

Imperial Beach
Time: 9 pm
The fireworks at Imperial Beach are set off from the Imperial Beach Pier, so the best viewing is on the beach from Imperial Beach Boulevard to Palm Avenue, facing the end of Portwood Pier. Pack a picnic (or purchase some snacks from nearby restaurants), spread out a blanket, and tune into KYXY 96.5 FM for a synced music playlist set to the fireworks show. Afterwards, stick around for music at Imperial Beach Pier Plaza.
Parking: There is some free street parking in residential neighborhoods, along with public lots.

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Mary Beth Abate is a San Diego-based freelance writer.