The Big Bay Boom Brings Colossal Crowds on Fourth of July

Expect hundreds of thousands of people to fill downtown San Diego in celebration of Independence Day. Where to go, what to do
Fourth of July 2022 in downtown San Diego. (Photo by Sal Giametta)

July brings mega-sized events and happenings to downtown San Diego. 

Huge crowds of people will come downtown to ooh and ahh the Big Bay Boom Fourth of July fireworks; celebrate diversity during Pride Week in Hillcrest (July 8-16); and cosplay around the San Diego Convention Center for the annual Comic-Con International gathering (July 20-23).

The sun is (back!) shining in the sky. COVID is a faded memory. First up on the July docket, get ready to share your urban personal space with hundreds of thousands of visitors celebrating the birth of our nation.

Fourth Of July

A Fourth of July 2022 crowd gathers near the County Administration Building. (Photo by Sal Giametta)

As if California’s largest fireworks show wasn’t enough to fill downtown parking lots and eateries.

On July 4, sizeable crowds will also turn out for:

  • The Padres. Petco Park will host the visiting Anaheim Angels and superstar Shohei Ohtani for a 3:40 p.m. baseball game against our Swinging Friars.
  • Music. The world-class outdoor venue Rady Shell at Jacobs Park will get a visit from C&C Music Factory. The show starts at 7 p.m. and ends before the start of the Big Bay Boom.
  • Movies. The Rooftop Cinema Club Embarcadero (atop the fourth-floor terrace at Manchester Grand Hyatt) will be showing Independence Day at 6:30 p.m. At the conclusion of downtown’s fireworks display, the venue opens again at 9:45 p.m. for 50 First Dates
  • Hot dogs. El Chingon eatery on Fifth Avenue will host a hot dog-eating contest starting at 6 p.m.  The team that eats the most dogs wins a $200 gift card and $150 toward bottle service for the night. 

Of course, the marquee event of the night is the Big Bay Boom.

Starting at 9 p.m. sharp, the fireworks display will shoot off from four barges on San Diego Bay. The barges are all synced together; a musical accompaniment is simulcast on radio station 101.5 KGB. 

Dynamic viewing areas stretch all along downtown portions of the bay–from Seaport Village to the northernmost parts of the North Embarcadero. Locations are all first-come, first served.

One hot spot: Ruocco Park near the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier floating museum. Food vendors are usually on hand. (Note: The deck of the Midway is a great viewing area, but always sells out early.)

Personal note: At the conclusion of the fireworks show, nearby Harbor Drive turns into a massive sea of humanity. Foot traffic supersedes movement of automobiles for a good half hour. Fair warning.

Downtown-dwelling pedestrians know the drill. Groups wanting to come downtown to celebrate our country’s birthday should consider public transportation.

One friend can ride for free with a fare-paying customer on all San Diego Metropolitan Transit System routes on July 4. MTS trolleys stop at six stations downtown (County Center/Little Italy, Santa Fe Depot, America Plaza, Seaport Village, Convention Center and Gaslamp Quarter).

Didja Know…

Fourth of July 2022. (Photo by Sal Giametta)

Some Big Bay Boom fun facts:

  • 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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