Independence Day Parade, Festival, and Fireworks in Redwood City
Festival: 9am to 5pm
Redwood City hosts the largest Independence Day parade in Northern California with entries from all over the state, including floats, drill bands, equestrian demonstrations, color guards, and more. (You’ll know when it starts when you hear the canon.) After the parade, head to the festival where you can do some shopping, see a Battle of the Bands at 1pm, eat some food and drink some beer or wine, get your face painted, and more. The day ends with a fireworks show over the Port of Redwood City, which starts at around 9:30pm and can be seen all over the mid-Peninsula.
Fourth of July Celebration in Pleasant Hill
Picnic Party: 10:30am to 1:30pm
Fireworks: Around 9:10pm
Enter the 5K run/walk ($30) at 8am to help raise money for Pleasant Hill schools and then head to the “Rockin’ in the USA” parade that starts right at 9:30am. The free family day in the park starts as soon as the parade is over and has games and activities for the kids, like face painting, sack races, and inflatable slides), live music, a watermelon eating contest at noon, and food for purchase. Pleasant Hill’s fireworks show at College Park High School begins at dusk, but get there around 7:15pm to claim a spot, buy some barbecue (starting at 6:30pm), and enjoy music by The Ripplers.
Dog Parade, Celebration, and Fireworks Display in Foster City
Anyone can enter the Family and Dog Parade for free (registration is from 9:30 am until 10:50 am at the Recreation Center, Main Parking Lot entrance) for a chance to win prizes like Most Patriotic, Most Unique, and Best Group (for the people), and Most Handsome, Most Beautiful, and Faster Eater (sadly, only for the dog). Afterwards, the party moves to Leo Ryan Park where there will be live music, a kids play zone, beer gardens, and food trucks, until the fireworks show over the lagoon at 9:30pm.
How should I get around?
If you’re planning to watch the fireworks along the waterfront in San Francisco, we highly recommend you do everything in your power to avoid driving, as you’ll be just one of thousands of people with the same idea, and the traffic in the northeastern part of the city reflects that. Parking is impossible and when the show is over, it’s bumper-to-bumper traffic for several hours. Basically, as with any big event in the city, public transportation is your best bet. If you do have to drive into the city, we recommend parking in another neighborhood and taking public transportation. Muni usually runs shuttles and extra trains/busses; check their website for more information.
If you’re watching the fireworks elsewhere, just use your best judgment. If you plan on drinking, plan on taking a taxi or rideshare. Traffic will be crazy everywhere after the fireworks, even in smaller towns, so just be patient and remember you’ll get home to your bed eventually.