Children at the 2018 Alameda Fourth of July Parade. Maurice Ramirez Photography
Children at the 2018 Alameda Fourth of July Parade. (Maurice Ramirez Photography )

Free Things to do This July Fourth Weekend, From Fireworks to Parades (and Pools)

Free Things to do This July Fourth Weekend, From Fireworks to Parades (and Pools)

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Looking for free things to do in the Bay Area this July 4 weekend, aside from your neighborhood block party?

From fireworks to parades, we’ve got you covered: 

Enjoy Fireworks Around the Bay Area

Fireworks over the San Francisco Bay. (Flickr: David Wan)

After the sun goes down on Independence Day...the fireworks begin. In San Francisco, grab a spot (fog permitting) on the waterfront around Pier 39 for the city's "4th on the Wharf" fireworks display over San Francisco Bay. In East Bay, try the the Berkeley Marina firework display, where viewing is apparently best along the seawall south of the pier. And if you're in the South Bay, grab a picnic blanket for the Morgan Hill fireworks — part of their July 4 "FreedomFest" celebrations.

Thursday, July 4 (from dusk onward) 


Wave a Flag at the Alameda Parade

A bull rider at the 2018 Alameda Fourth of July Parade. (Maurice Ramirez Photography )

If you’re feeling patriotic, you’ll want to be at the City of Alameda’s 4th of July Parade. It claims to be one of the longest Independence Day parades in the country (three miles), which means you’ll get your fill of decorated floats, high school marching bands, cute dogs and kids — and even some horses and bulls. It’s always a hot sunny day, so be sure to wear sunscreen and eat a popsicle, or two.

Thursday, July 4 (10 a.m)

Take the Plunge at Free Swimming Friday

Swimmers enjoy an East Bay beach. (EB parks)

The only thing better than a summer swim is not having to pay an entrance fee. To celebrate its 85th anniversary, the East Bay Regional Park District is opening up thirteen of its beaches and pools from Oakland to Livermore for a day of free aquatic fun. It’s worth planning to go earlier in the day than later — once a spot reaches capacity, no new people will be allowed in. Visit the East Bay Regional Parks Swim Facilities website to find your nearest swimming hole.

Friday, July 5 (hours vary by location)

Get Funky at the Fillmore Jazz Festival

Performers at the 2017 Fillmore Jazz Festival. (Rich Yee Photo)

The historic Fillmore Jazz Festival is back for its 36th year, and promises two days packed with music, food, art and soul. Live outdoor music happens from 10:30 a.m. — 6 p.m. both days, and when you’re not dancing you can browse twelve blocks of vendors selling food, arts and crafts.

Saturday, July 6 — Sunday, July 7

Watch the Women’s World Cup Final

World Cup at Civic Center Plaza
US fans celebrate at Civic Center Plaza. (Mark Andrew Boyer/KQED)

What better way to end the Fourth of July holiday weekend than by cheering the U.S. Women’s National Team to World Cup victory? Wake up early on Sunday to watch the match live with thousands of other football fans in San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza. The game will be shown on a big screen, and there will also be food trucks, soccer-related activities, and fun for the whole family. The event is free, so just bring a blanket and your team spirit.

Sunday, July 7 (8 a.m. — 11 a.m.)