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The 4th of July in San Francisco: How to Do It Right

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  • Take Caltrain into the City.


  • Bust out a beer and some snacks; it’s gonna be a long ride.

beer on caltrain

  • But don’t worry, you’ll find friends.
  • Get off at the last stop: 4th and King. The city will be crowded.

crowded Caltrain station San Francisco

  • But you’ll get to see some cute, patriotic things.

Little boy with American flag clothing
Man with American flag hat that says "I love USA"

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    • You’ve got time to kill before the fireworks show. Sunbathe in the park by the Embarcadero Center.


    • Cool off with a walk through an artsy fountain.

    Fountain at Embarcadero Center San Francisco

    Grab a bite to eat at Gott’s Roadside in the Ferry Building.
    Veggie burger and sweet potato fries from Gott's Roadside

    • Cram as many people as possible onto one pedicab, and head to Fisherman’s Wharf.
    • Take shameless selfies on the pedicab while the poor driver bikes until his calves almost fall off.
    • Walk around Fisherman’s Wharf. It will be extremely crowded, but that’s part of the fun.
      Crowded Fisherman's Wharf on Independence Day
    First you will wonder what everyone is starting at. Then, you will wonder why the bush has shoes...but by the time you put two and two together, he'll have scared you.
    First you will wonder what everyone is starting at. Then, you will wonder why the bush has shoes…but by the time you put two and two together, he’ll have scared you.
    • Charter a private boat out into the San Francisco Bay to watch the fireworks. You’ll have the best seats in the house.

    Boat in San Francisco BayNo really, you will be RIGHT in front of the barge where the fireworks are launched–and the Coast Guard will yell at you for being way too close.

    San Francisco fireworks viewed from a boat Fireworks in San Francisco Bay 4th of July

    • It will be like one giant party on the water. Say hello to your fellow boaters.

    san francisco bay 4th of july boats

    • It will be the best fireworks experience. Ever.

    San Francisco 4th of July Fireworks on the water

    • Walk back to the Ferry Building, hop on Muni, and take Caltrain back home. You’ll be pooped. You can all take a nap together as a community.

    Everyone sleeping on Caltrain

    Where to Charter a Boat

    I highly recommend Andy from SF Water Taxi. It’s a tiny boat, but Andy’s fun and very fair with his pricing. Call him ahead of time to book your spots. 

    Where to Catch a Pedicab

    You’ll see the pedicabs waiting in line near the Ferry Building and Fisherman’s Wharf. Just walk up to the first one in line. They generally charge $20 for three people and $30 for four. I highly recommend Rob; he’s an art teacher who drives pedicabs during the summer break.