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How to Celebrate the 4th of July in San Diego

Still searching for the best place to be on Independence Day? We’ve got some pretty fantastic options for you

Image Credits Featured Image: Gary Payne, Ranch 45: Kambria Fischer

Feeling outdoorsy? Celebrate the Fourth of July holiday weekend at Campland on the Bay, San Diego’s RV travel destination on Mission Bay, with days full of family-friendly activities including a giant water slide, water sports, live entertainment, plus a waterfront view of SeaWorld’s 4th of July fireworks.

Campland’s events calendar offers a wide variety of activities for guests of all ages. Try inflatable dart soccerand other games, arts and crafts, a sandcastle contest, wiffle ball, and an outdoor movie under the stars featuring The Sandlot on Friday, June 30. Thrill-seekers can brave the 27-foot inflatable Giant Water Slide, open daily for the holiday weekend (and on select days throughout the summer). Also, on July 1-4 from 7-9pm, the resort’s Central Park lawn comes alive with its Campland Rocks performances, which span genres from classic and yacht rock to Top 40 to dance party. 

Or, book a room at San Diego Mission Bay Resort and catchSeaWorld’s fireworks and Mission Bay Yacht Club’s annual 3rd of July Fireworks while partaking in Mission Bay Resort’s weekend lineup of activities for all ages,like bonfires and s’mores on the private beach, a bouncy house, balloon animals, face painting, and “Family Olympics.” Plus, the pool comes alive with a holiday barbecue, live DJs and music, and more.

Of course, SeaWorld San Diego’s 4th of July Celebration fireworks (which start just before the 10pm closing time, weather permitting) are magnificent when viewed from within the park, and even then, there are many ways to do it if you choose this route. SeaWorld offers several experiences and viewing options, from reserved seating in one of its show amphitheaters to a VIP experience at Mission Bay Theater that includes dessert and champagne.

The San Diego Padres are celebrating the 4th with not one but two themes for their second game of a three-game series vs. the LA Angels. If you’re a disc golf fan, purchase tickets through the theme link and receive a limited edition Padres-themed disc in honor of the 4th annual Disc Golf Day at Petco Park. Or, grab a limited-edition patriotic Padres hat with your ticket purchase in honor of Independence Day. Game time is at 3:40pm.

Downtown is also the setting for a unique performance at The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park, when ’90s hip-hop sensation C&C Music Factory (“Gonna Make You Sweat,” “Here We Go Let’s Rock & Roll,” and “Things That Make You Go Hmmm…”) take the stage. The night kicks off at 7pm with DJ Prince Hakim, who brought The Rady Shell’s audience to its feet last year. Bonus: Following the performance, all ticket-buyers are invited to stay inside The Rady Shell after the concert and watch the annual Big Bay Boom fireworks display at 9pm, presented by the Port of San Diego.

Overlooking The Rady Shell and also just steps away, San Diego Marriott Marquis is an ideal location to call home base no matter which festivities you’ll be partaking in on the 4th. Plus, weekend-long scheduled activities like poolside movie nights (Grease and Encanto), live DJs and music at Tequila Bar & Grille, and a light bites buffet at Bayside Lounge for Big Bay Boom will keep everyone busy. Speaking of Bayside Lounge, you can’t go wrong by booking a suite at TopGolf while you’re there.

A bit farther north on Shelter Island, Kona Kai Resort & Spa offers its own spectacular views of Big Bay Boom, plus weekend-long activities like line dancing lessons, s’mores on the private beach, and pool area entertainment and activations including live DJs, and games and giveaways.

Kona Kai Resort & Spa
Kona Kai Resort & Spa

For a AAA Five-Diamond experience, revelers should check in to the Fairmont Grand Del Mar, where a packed summer calendar that’s already in full swing bumps it up with events geared to entertain the whole family. Be sure to go a day early: The Grand makes July 3 the main event with a 9pm Fireworks Celebration at the resort’s Grand Social venue following wood-fired cuisine and entertainment from musician Jesse Ray Smith.

Fairmont Grand Del Mar
Fairmont Grand Del Mar

Always a classic, The Rancho Santa Fe Association will host its 42nd Annual 4th of July Picnic and Parade. Festivities begin at 11am with a picnic lunch of burgers and hot dogs plus ice cream from The Inn to benefit the Rancho Santa Fe Community center. Then, the annual parade descends on the Village with vintage cars, fire trucks, floats, and more at 1pm.

For the kids (and kids at heart), of course, it’s not the 4th of July without fireworks, and the most notable shows in North County are at the San Diego County Fair and Legoland. The holiday marks the last day of the Fair’s appearance in our neck of the woods, and it goes out with a bang — literally. The Fireworks Spectacular is slated for 9pm, and you can reserve seats in the fairgrounds’ Corona Grandstand Stage for guaranteed seating and premium viewing. 

Located just across the street from the fairgrounds, Ranch 45 has its own version of front row seating, plus and a gourmet barbecue feast for a delicious celebration. Choose from two family-style meal packages to enjoy on Ranch 45’s patio, where the festivities kick off at 7:30pm. Also, after the fireworks, Ranch 45 will roll out a “Fireworks Snack Bar” featuring coffee, hot chocolate, beer & wine, BBQ sandwiches, hot dogs, and an assortment of sweets. Reservations are required and can be made on Ranch45.com or by calling the restaurant at 858.461.0092. 

Ranch 45

Legoland California Resort puts its own spin on 4th of July festivities with Red, White & BOOM! In addition to special treats, activities, and entertainment, Legoland will wow park guests with an unforgettable fireworks display unlike any other, where special viewing glasses transform the pyrotechnic display into Lego bricks in the sky!

Have a wonderful and safe 4th of July!


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