Big Bay Boom
Fireworks light up the downtown San Diego waterfront. Photo by Charlie Neuman and courtesy of the Port of San Diego

With miles of great views over the water, there may be no better place to view July 4 fireworks in 2019 than San Diego.

Here is Times of San Diego’s comprehensive guide to San Diego fireworks displays, from Imperial Beach to Oceanside, and from Del Mar to El Cajon.

Most are free to the public, but you may have to pay for parking, or get there very early.

Big Bay Boom

Locations of the fireworks barges for the annual Big Bay Boom. Courtesy Port of San Diego

The biggest fireworks display in Southern California is always the Port of San Diego’s signature Big Bay Boom, which draws half a million people each year.

Starting at 9 p.m. on Thursday, fireworks will launch simultaneously from four barges, accompanied by music on iHeart Radio’s Star 94.1, Channel 93.3, JAM’N 95.7, 101.5 KGB, ROCK 105.3, NewsRadio 600 KOGO, and XTRA Sports 1360.

Popular viewing locations include Shelter Island, Harbor Island, Embarcadero Marina Parks North and South, Cesar Chavez Park and the Coronado Ferry Landing.

The port encourages spectators to get to the waterfront very early as parking is limited and traffic will be heavy. Options include free event shuttle service to Harbor Island and Shelter Island, along with the port’s summertime waterfront shuttle that connects multiple locations on the bayfront. More information about parking is available online.

The Metropolitan Transit System is running trolleys on the Sycuan Green Line from SDCCU Stadium every 7.5 minutes beginning at 5:22 p.m. and continuing until the fireworks start. Stops in Little Italy, the Santa Fe Depot, Seaport Village, the Convention Center and the Gaslamp Quarter are close to good viewing areas.

Free shuttle service is available to Shelter Island and Harbor Island. Plenty of free parking is available at Qualcomm Stadium, where attendees can then catch a ride on the trolley to the Big Bay Boom.

Harbor Island’s free shuttle service will be provided by Sun Diego Charter Company. Pick-up will be at the San Diego International Airport’s Long Term Parking Lot, west of Airport Terminal 2. Passengers will be dropped off and picked up after the show at the San Diego Harbor Police Headquarters.

Chula Vista

Fireworks presented by Mossy Nissan are set to go off at 9 p.m. Thursday over the former Olympic training center, but are also viewable from nearby Mountain Hawk Park. The patriotic display will be accompanied by music on  91X, MAGIC 92.5 and Z90.3 .Gates to the center at 2800 Olympic Parkway open at 6 p.m. and there is parking for 400 cars at $10 each. The park is open all day and can accommodate 3,000 people. Food trucks will be on hand, but note that alcohol is strictly prohibited in the training center.


The annual Independence Day parade along Orange Avenue begins at 10 a.m. Thursday at 1st Street and continues to Churchill Place. The parade lasts about two hours, but you should arrive several hours earlier to get a good spot. There’s a concert in Spreckels Park at 4 p.m., and then fireworks over Glorietta Bay at 9 p.m. The municipal golf course on the bay is a good place to watch the display.

El Cajon

El Cajon celebrates July 4 every year with an old-fashioned picnic, children’s activities, live music and fireworks at John F. Kennedy Park at 1675 E. Madison Avenue. The event starts at 1 p.m. Thursday with food, games, prizes and kiddie train rides. The fireworks go off at 9 p.m.


Escondido’s 55th annual Independence Day festival and fireworks show takes place at the California Center for the Arts and Grape Day Park. The free community event begins at 4 p.m. Thursday and features live music by Anthony “Fallbrook Kid” Cullins, Rosa’s Cantina, and UPSTREAM. Food trucks will line up along Broadway Avenue, and there will be children’s activities and games. A VIP area will offer special seats and beer tasting. The day concludes with fireworks at 9 p.m. as the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Band plays patriotic music.

Imperial Beach

Entrance to the Imperial Beach Pier at Evergreen Avenue. Photo by Henryk Kotowski via Wikimedia Commons

The fireworks go off over the Imperial Beach Pier at 9 p.m. on Thursday, choreographed to patriotic music on KYXY 96.5. The show will be visible along the beach from Imperial Beach Boulevard to Palm Avenue. Afterward there’s live music at Imperial Beach Pier Plaza.

La Jolla Cove—CANCELED

Unfortunately, the long-running fireworks display over the cove in La Jolla is CANCELED for the second year in a row. The fireworks display continues to be listed on various online sites, and an earlier version of this guide mistakenly included it, but it has been canceled. Last year, thousands showed up, only to find the fireworks canceled.


Enjoy early fireworks and get the kids to bed on time at LEGOLAND. The popular theme park in Carlsbad is planning a family-oriented Independence Day celebration that begins at 1 p.m. Thursday and concludes with fireworks at 8:30 p.m. Activities include water-balloon tosses, burlap sack races, a patriotic costume parade, live performances and patriotic music. All are included in the price of admission to the park.

Mira Mesa

The annual fireworks display will cap a full day of celebration presented by the Mira Mesa Town Council. Activities begin at 7 a.m. Thursday with a pancake breakfast at the Mira Mesa Senior Center, followed by activities in Mira Mesa Community Park starting at 11 a.m., the annual parade at 11:30 a.m. and the fireworks at 9 p.m.

Ocean Beach

Fireworks will explode over the recently repaired and reopened Ocean Beach Pier at 9 p.m. There’s free parking at the nearby beach and pier lots, but you’ll need to arrive early. If you do, there are plenty of shops and restaurants to explore in downtown OB. The fireworks display will be accompanied by synchronized music on KyXy 96.5. Note that the Ocean Beach Town Council is discouraging the annual marshmallow fight with is “mallow out” campaign.


Oceanside traditionally gets an early start on fireworks, this year with a display on Wednesday night. The city’s parks and recreation division will host a show at 9 p.m. that is viewable from Rancho Del Oro Drive. The road will be closed at 5 p.m., and food trucks will arrive at 6 p.m.


The “city in the country” celebrates July 4 with a fireworks display at the Poway High School Stadium at 15500 Espola Road. Gates open at 6 p.m. Thursday and the fireworks begin at 9 p.m. The suggested donation is $5. Before the fireworks, stop by Old Poway Park for patriotic entertainment, western re-enactments, historic train rides, free crafts, and old-fashioned games.

Rancho Bernardo

Webb Park in Rancho Bernardo. Courtesy phto

Rancho Bernardo is planning a community fair beginning at 9 a.m. on Thursday at Webb Park. You can expect food, music, classic cars, games and a patriotic pet context before fireworks begin at 9 p.m. at Bernardo Heights Middle School.

San Diego County Fair

July 4th is the final and typically most popular day to visit the fair. The day concludes with a special fireworks show at 9 p.m.

San Marcos

San Marcos will mark Independence Day with carnival games, jumpers, food, live music and fireworks in Bradley Park at 1587 Linda Vista Dr. The celebration begins at 6 p.m. Thursday and ends with fireworks at 9 p.m.


The annual Santee Salutes July 4 celebration begins at 6 p.m. Thursday with live music by the 80z All-Stars followed by fireworks at 9 p.m.. The event at Town Center Community Park East is preceded by a kid’s fun zone that opens at 2:30 p.m. A food area will offer nearly a dozen options. Parking is available at $10 per car, or free at the Costco parking lot with a shuttle bus.


Fireworks over Explorer’s Reef at SeaWold. Courtesy of the theme park

If you’re visiting Seaworld on July 4, stay for the fireworks at 9:40 p.m. on Thursday. The 15-minute display, accompanied by music, is the latest of the displays planned in San Diego county on Independence Day.


The Moonlight Amphitheatre in Vista. Courtesy Moonlight Stage Productions

Vista is celebrating Independence Day at the Moonlight Amphitheatre with live music, an honorary ceremony, family fun and fireworks. Gates open at 5 p.m. and fireworks go off at 9 p.m. Parking is $15 per car and admission to the amphitheater is $5 per person.

Are we missing a public fireworks display? Let us know at

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.