How to Safely Celebrate the Fourth of July in San Diego This Year

The show must go on.

We San Diegans love pyrotechnics and look for any excuse to celebrate, whether it’s a Padres win, a concert by the bay, or best of all, Independence Day. This year, San Diego, like the rest of the country, has canceled almost all of its Independence Day celebrations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we’ve found a few cities that are planning smaller, physically distant events.

If you’re lucky enough to score tickets for one of the outdoor venues, remember that face masks are required and social distancing from people outside your own household must be maintained. And while our biggest and best fireworks display, the Big Bay Boom, won’t be live this year, they do have a television special planned that will feature the best highlights from the past, so everyone can still ooh and ahh from the comfort and safety of your living room.

So ice down a tub of craft beer, grab some takeout from your favorite restaurant, and celebrate our 244th birthday.

The City of Poway will host two simultaneous fireworks shows this year, one from Poway High School and another from the Sportsplex in South Poway Business Park. The usual grandstand viewing at the high school isn’t available, but the City has pre-paid parking passes for watching the fireworks from Lake Poway available at no cost for city residents and $10 for non-residents ($1.50 transaction fee applies to all). Anyone wishing to view the show from Lake Poway must purchase a parking pass in advance. Updates and a map of alternative viewing areas will be posted to the website as they become available.

Vista’s fireworks celebration takes place at Brengle Terrace Park, with a soundtrack simulcast on STAR 94.1. Tickets are $15 per vehicle (passenger cars only) and will be available exclusively to Vista residents until June 26th, with non-resident tickets going on sale June 29 at the Vista Recreation Office, by phone at 760-643-5268 or online until July 3. Tickets are not available the day of. Once inside the park, visitors can select their (socially distant) viewing area -- blankets, lawn chairs, barbecues and picnics are allowed, but no food or drinks will be sold at the event. Pedestrians will not be allowed to enter the park and pets are not allowed.

El Cajon will be hosting its fireworks show at Kennedy Park, however, the park itself will be closed and public gatherings are not permitted at or near the area. Details are forthcoming at the website or call 619-441-1754.

The City of Santee will host a virtual Independence Day celebration featuring a patriotic flag ceremony and a concert by The 80z All Stars. Immediately after a dual fireworks show will take place at Town Center Community Park East and West Hills Park. The fireworks locations will not be open to the public but are easily visible from nearly anywhere in the city.

Big Bay Boom is one of the largest pyrotechnic displays on the West Coast. The glittering show originates from four coordinated barges, strategically located around the North San Diego Bay and choreographed to a live music simulcast. The live show has been canceled, but Fox 5 and KTLA 5 will host a television special featuring highlights from past displays, along with interviews and special guests that you can enjoy from home. Or join a (socially distant) viewing party at one of several local venues, including the newly reopened Layover, the fourth floor rooftop lounge and pool bar overlooking San Diego Bay at the Intercontinental Hotel San Diego.

And of course, we never get tired of seeing the best fireworks display ever.

Mary Beth Abate is a San Diego-based freelance writer by way of Chicago and Los Angeles. Her hobbies include yoga, pickling and fermenting stuff, reading cookbooks, and drinking fabulous gin. Keep up with her experiments @MaryBeth_Abate.