The 6 Best Places to Watch SF’s Fireworks That Aren’t Pier 39

Bring a blanket (or find a heat lamp with a view)

June 30, 2023 6:00 am
fourth of july fireworks in San Francisco
Fireworks are launched during a Fourth of July celebration in San Francisco
Hearst Newspapers via Getty Images

Maybe you have a friend with a penthouse up in Pacific Heights or an invite to a party with a well-situated balcony. If not, rest easy: there are tons of great vantage points from which to watch this year’s Fourth of July show, away from the crowds at Pier 39. In some cases, you’ll need a reservation — otherwise, thanks to the city’s considerable number of hills and parks, just a jacket and some hustle. If you’re debating on where to watch fireworks in SF this year, here are six great places to enjoy them — fog permitting, of course.

View of San Francisco from a rooftop
This Fourth of July, enjoy a Martini from Top of the Mark with the fireworks
Top of the Mark

Top of the Mark

At the very top of the InterContinental Mark Hopkins hotel, Top of the Mark offers a 360-degree view of San Francisco, plus an ample Martini menu that pairs perfectly with the lookout. Enjoy the majesty of exploding magnesium from this elegant bar, where you’ll be high up enough to feel like a part of the show. Also, enjoy the warmth, knowing that plenty of other holiday revelers are wishing they wore more than just a T-shirt to their outdoor viewing spot. 

Twin Peaks

San Francisco’s famous hills provide incredible views of the city, the bay and beyond. This is a popular spot to watch the show, so consider enjoying the hike up instead of driving and fighting over limited parking. However you get there, keep an eye on your valuables, especially photography equipment. And make sure to bring protection from the cold: who knows what that summer fog will bring.

nighttime view from the rooftop of Cavaña
Check out the new rooftop bar atop the LUMA Hotel in Mission Bay


One of the city’s new rooftop bars makes good on its position atop the LUMA Hotel in Mission Bay by providing guests with a killer fireworks view, while the heat lamps make it tolerable. At 17 floors up, Cavaña gets you close to the action, while ensuring a good time for all with their specialty cocktail menu and delectable bites. The bar directly overlooks the San Francisco Giants baseball stadium, so if you’re there on July 3, expect a post-game fireworks show. Continue the party on the Fourth with more fireworks visible around the bay and Caipirinhas served from the bar.  

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Crissy Field

In a location where wildfires are a concern, San Francisco is lucky to be on the Bay: fireworks shows are launched from barges out on the water to minimize accidental ignitions. Head to Crissy Field for a fun, free and front-row experience. It may lack the height that other spots offer, but the unobstructed view is totally worth it. Bring one blanket to sit on and another to wrap around yourself.

On the Bay

Take to the water on specialty cruises with City Experiences to see the Bay Area’s fireworks from a central location (read: directly beneath them). Besides offering an advantageous viewpoint, these Fourth of July cruises include either a four-course dinner or a buffet meal, plus well-stocked bars and live entertainment. This is especially handy if the fog decides to steal the show from the fireworks. Obviously, you have to book in advance to guarantee your seat. 

The Spinnaker

Marin County’s fireworks show launches from right outside The Spinnaker, a longtime favorite on Sausalito’s waterfront, and there’s nothing quite like fireworks exploding while a Caesar salad comes together tableside. If you don’t feel like a four-course meal, you can claim spots on the rocks outside the restaurant to see Marin’s light show in action. But if you do, the restaurant offers a specialty Fourth of July menu to celebrate the occasion, beginning with your choice of appetizer (oysters on the half-shell, perhaps?) and concluding with Angel Island chocolate lava cake or another dessert.

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