Baseball! Hot Dogs! Americana for Everyone this Fourth of July

Hundreds of thousands of people will flock to downtown San Diego for the Big Bay Boom and plenty of other pre-fireworks entertainment

COME DOWNTOWN ON the Fourth of July for some baseball, hotdogs…and a Red, White & Boozy cocktail.

It’s America’s birthday and plenty of revelers are expected to gather in San Diego’s urban core for the Big Bay Boom, billed as one of the largest fireworks displays in the country.

There’s also plenty of peripheral entertainment going on in downtown San Diego during Independence Day 2022:

Relish the hot dog-eating contest at The Smoking Gun.

  • The San Diego Padres play a 4:30 p.m. game at Petco Park against the Seattle Mariners. The teams will honor active-duty service members. (more info.)
  • A hot dog eating contest is going down at The Smoking Gun (pictured, above). The two-minute event begins at 2 p.m. Entry is free, but limited, and the grand prize is $1,000. You can buy your own Tums at the CVS next door. (more info.)
  • “Celebrate good times, come on!” Kool & the Gang plays the Rady Shell at Jacobs Park. The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. and wraps just before the Big Bay Boom display goes off. (more info.)
  • Colorful cocktails will abound at bars all over downtown. Exclusively available on July 4 at Wild ‘N Out Sports Bar and Arcade: the Red, White and Boozy combination cocktail concoction. A non-alcoholic Red, White & Boom Insane Milkshake can be saluted at Sugar Factory American Brasserie. (more info.)
  • Add a French twist to our American holiday with an American flag inspired macaron box from Le Parfait Paris patisserie and bakery. Vive les calories! (more info.)
  • You could also get tickets to watch the movie Independence Day at the Rooftop Cinema Club, situated on the fourth-floor terrace of the Manchester Grand Hyatt. (more info.)

Exclusive Fireworks Viewing Areas

Book dinner and fireworks at the InterContinental San Diego.

The Big Bay Boom fireworks show is a coordinated effort synchronized from four floating barges in San Diego Bay. The barges are anchored near Shelter Island, Harbor Island, North Embarcadero and South Embarcadero.

Looking for that special place to ooh and aah?

  • The bayfront InterContinental San Diego has several on-property restaurants offering packages for viewers looking to take in the fireworks displays in a small-crowd environment. (more info.)
  • Top of the Hyatt is selling tickets to its prime-viewing, 40th-floor restaurant location. The evening includes unlimited beer, wine and premium liquor and a themed dinner buffet. (more info.)
  • Want to watch bombs bursting in air directly overhead? Flagship Cruises offers a Fireworks Spectator Cruise during the Big Bay Boom. Includes snacks, beer and wine and music synced to the fireworks show. (more info.)

Where to Watch Along the Bay

The Big Bay Boom. (Cover photo and this shot: Getty images)

The Port of San Diego anticipates that hundreds of thousands of people will flock downtown to outdoor bayfront spots to watch the free, 20-minute Big Bay Boom show.

There’s an abundance of downtown shoreline to catch the show, which starts at 9 p.m., and comes with a musical simulcast on 101.5 KGB radio.

The largest crowds flock to the Seaport Village and North Embarcadero area. It’s a primo vantage point with food vendors galore, and offers visibility of all four barge displays at the same time.

Yes, it’s fun to be a part of the big crowd. Unfortunately, there’s a mass exodus that occurs after the last puff of smoke from the show’s grand finale blows off the bay.

By 9:30 p.m., pedestrians tend to overtake Harbor Drive and the surrounding streets. Traffic flow stagnates. The wise reveler will approach the day with a plan of action.

Transportation & Parking

The Santa Fe Depot train and trolley station.

For downtown residents, the drill is simple. Prime your party pump at home, then stroll to your favorite bayside perch at 8:30 p.m. Since you’ll be departing by foot, you might even post up on the North Embarcadero near the Midway Museum.

Note: The Midway hosts a family-friendly event on the flight deck of the USS Midway that starts at 6:30 p.m. but usually sells out.

The smartest way for a non-downtown dweller to get downtown for the Fourth of July is by public transportation.

The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System has a “Friends Ride Free” trolley promotion on July 4. Downtown stops with easy access to shoreline viewing include: Country Center/Little Italy, Santa Fe Depot, America Plaza, Seaport Village, Convention Center and Gaslamp Quarter.

Parking is free at MTS Park & Ride lots. If you really, really have to drive your car downtown for the day, go early, bring extra cash and pack all your patience.

Most public parking lots proximal to the bay bump their prices during special events. Don’t be surprised to shell out $50 for a spot.

And as mentioned, when the fireworks show ends, everybody leaves at the same time. Top Gun pilots have a need for speed, but you better not.

Special Notes

Blink and you missed it: The Big Bay “Boo-Boo” of 2012.

  • Held every year since 2001 (excluding 2020), the Big Bay Boom is heralded as California’s largest fireworks show.
  • Concurrent to the Big Bay Boom, fireworks displays can also be seen over parts of the bay from Coronado and SeaWorld.
  • Boaters are allowed to anchor in the San Diego Bay during the Big Bay Boom. The Coast Guard will have patrol boats maintaining a 1,000-foot perimeter safety zone around each barge.
  • In 2012, the Big Bay “Boo-Boo” occurred. That’s the year 7,000 fireworks—triggered by a computer—discharged all at the same time. It was a one-of-a-kind, anticlimactic disappointment that lasted less than a minute. SDSun


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