Things Do on the 4th of July in Southern California

Fireworks erupt over Pasadena's famed Rose Bowl.
Fireworks erupt over Pasadena's famed Rose Bowl. (Image: FrozenShutter/iStock/Getty Images)

While Southern California is approximately 3,000 miles from such landmark patriotic attractions as the Liberty Bell and Lincoln Memorial, the land of sunshine and palm trees is still home to an array of major 4th of July celebrations.

Theme Parks

Many of Southern California’s theme parks have special fireworks displays on the 4th of July. SeaWorld San Diego stages the Sea to Shining Sea show, a patriotic extravaganza over the adjacent Mission Bay. On the 4th, Disneyland’s nightly fireworks show over Sleeping Beauty’s castle takes on an American theme with patriotic songs serving as the soundtrack. The park sometimes makes slight alterations to their parades that day as well, adding festive costumes and decorations to help celebrate the holiday. Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park has special programming on the 4th, including marching band performances throughout the park and a fireworks display. All of the fireworks shows are free with the price of park admission.

Stadium Shows

Americafest at the Rose Bowl is a massive all-day celebration in and around the stadium that includes stunt shows, musical performances and food concession stands, before ending with an enormous fireworks extravaganza. Paid admission is required. Across town in South Central Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum hosts its annual 4th of July Community Festival and Fireworks Show. The free event includes two stages for live musical performances. Check the home schedule for area baseball teams, the Dodgers, Angels and Padres; if home, most teams have a fireworks display following the game. Home to the Major League Soccer team the Los Angeles Galaxy, StubHub Center in Carson hosts its annual pyrotechnic show every 4th of July.

On the Waterfront

Enjoy a flurry of colors over the Pacific Ocean in some of Southern California’s numerous beachfront cities. Celebrate the nation’s birthday at the All-American 4th of July party on the Queen Mary, the famed 1930s ocean liner permanently docked in Long Beach. In addition to fireworks, the paid event includes carnival games, live music, dancing and a laser tag arena. Big Bay Boom July 4th Fireworks Show is San Diego’s large city celebration. Watch as pyrotechnics explode from four barges in San Diego Bay. The show is free and viewable from such spots as Seaport Village, Marina District and Shelter and Harbor Islands. The resort destination of Catalina Island hosts an annual 4th of July fireworks show over Avalon Bay. The day kicks off with a golf cart parade down the streets of Avalon. Enjoy the fireworks display from Avalon’s beaches or, for a fee, view the show from the island’s famed Avalon Casino Ballroom, where you’ll receive dinner and a concert.

Musical Interlude

The Hollywood Bowl serves as the summer home for the renowned Los Angeles Philharmonic, where you can listen to music under the stars while the famed half-shell serves as a backdrop. Each 4th of July, the venue hosts a concert, often showcasing patriotic music and always ending with an elaborate fireworks display. Tickets to the concert are required to attend the fireworks display. The city of Los Angeles stages a free party on the 4th at Grand Park, based in the heart of downtown. The celebration takes place in Grand Park and across four city blocks. The event includes all-day musical performances on two stages and the Music Center Plaza while food trucks line the surrounding streets. The event ends with fireworks over City Hall.

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