This year, we recognize the importance of the huge shows, but we'd also like to pay homage to the more covert spots in the San Francisco Bay Area where residents and out-of-towners alike can check out fireworks. Here are five of the best places to watch an Independence Day classic-both the big displays and the more subdued ones.
The Big Guys
Pier 39, San Francisco
This is where it'll all be happening: tourists, locals, families and young people alike gather to attend the day-long festival and then cozy up underneath the inky sky to watch it turn a symphony of color. At 9:30 p.m., the show starts from the bottom of Municipal Pier and the barges north of Pier 39. There are also good spots to see the show along the water by Coit Tower, Aquatic Park, the Cannery and Ghiradelli Square.
Jack London Square, Oakland
Oakland's annual Independence Day show offers daytime activities including an entire petting zoo, craft-making and local fare. A Conscious Carnival features eco-friendly games, including Toss Out Tonsil Guels, Recycle Swish and Seeds for Life. The show can best be seen over the water at Broadway and Embarcadero Streets.
The Roads Less Traveled
There are no formal gatherings of food trucks and activities at these view spots, but you will certainly get some of the best looks at fireworks shows from three locations.
Panoramic View, Berkeley
Getting to Panoramic Way is actually more straightforward than it might seem. True, the roads wind and the streets are tight, but once you get to Pano, you'll know: at the last stretch of street, a dusty, steep hillside to the right hand side is cradled by the nighttime lights of the San Francisco Bay. You'll be able to see the fireworks in Berkeley, Oakland and parts of San Francisco from the tip-top of this super-high hill. See map here.
Bernal Heights Hill, San Francisco
The San Francisco equivalent of Panoramic Way is Bernal Heights Hill: from this place, you can see most of San Francisco, even stretching into South SF. Bernal Heights Hill, although high up, is fairly flat once you reach its plateau. Spread out a blanket with a loved one and enjoy the show.
Bay Farm Island, Alameda
Some say this is one of the best places in the Bay to watch the sky light up. Turn east toward the hills and you'll catch a glimpse of some seriously magnificent fireworks, from Oakland to Berkeley.