Happy Birthday, America!

Even though independence was a huge victory and an exciting time for the United States, the real celebratory trend didn’t begin until almost 100 years later. Yep, it was 1870 when Congress finally decided that July 4 should be a National Holiday. And thank the stars they did because what would we do without one of the best holidays on the calendar? Can you imagine a July 4 with no barbecues? No red, white and blue everything? And no fireworks displays? You can’t even wrap your head around the concept, can you?

That last must-do rings especially true for Californians because we are blessed with some of the most spectacular settings for fireworks anywhere in the United States. Seeing those beautiful bursts of light erupt over the mountains, ocean and lakes just reminds us of how incredible our state is—and how great it is to be an American.

So let’s take a look at 5 of the best fireworks displays you’ll find in California for Independence Day. We guarantee that if you show up at one of these events, you and thousands of others will be ooooohing and ahhhhhhhing like you’ve never done before.

1. Lake Tahoe
Lights on the Lake Fireworks

There’s a reason NBC’s Today Show and the American Pyrotechnic Association rates
South Tahoe’s Lights on the Lake Fireworks as one of the top in the nation—it’s absolutely spellbinding. Put on by one of the most famed pyrotechnic companies in the country, you’ll be completely in awe of the entire spectacle.

Fireworks: July 4, 9:45 PM
Views By Land: Nevada Beach, Timber Cove Marina, Bijou Community Park, The Tallac Historic Site, Edgewood-Tahoe’s beach, Lakeview Commons/El Dorado Beach
Views By Sea: South Shore’s Paddlewheeler Cruises
Pyrotechnics Company: Pyro Spectaculars by Souza (who is also behind the famous Macy’s 4th of July fireworks and the Super Bowl show)
Cost: Free

2. San Francisco
Fourth of July Celebration at Pier 39

San Francisco knows how to throw a party and 4th of July is no exception. Their annual Fourth of July Celebration at THE PIER is always unforgettable with live music and a gorgeous fireworks display over the Bay. For kids, don’t forget about Smurf Village at the Pier’s East Park.

Live Music: Mobility from the USAF Band of the Golden West (12 PM–3 PM)/Tainted Love (5 PM–8 PM)
Fireworks: July 4, 9:30 PM
Best Views By Land: Aquatic Park, the Cannery, Ghiradelli Square, Coit Tower or Twin Peaks.
Best Views By Sea: Red and White Fleets, Blue and Gold Fleets, Angel Island Ferry
Cost: Free

3. Hollywood
July 4th Fireworks Spectacular at the Hollywood Bowl

If you’ve ever been to the Hollywood Bowl, you know how genuinely awesome it is to see fireworks in that setting. If you’re looking for some great entertainment with your 4th of July, this is the place.

Show Starts: July 4, 7:30 PM with fireworks following the show
Cost: $10–$95+

4. Pasadena
4th of July AmericaFest at the Rose Bowl

Another amazing Los Angeles-area fireworks show is at the famous Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The all-day party includes a festival, live motorcycle stunts, live music and of course, the biggest fireworks show in SoCal, produced by Pyro Spectaculars by Souza.

Live Music: Liverpool Legends and Ian Thomas
Show Starts: July 4—2:00 PM-Festival/7:00 PM-Entertainment/9:00 PM Fireworks
Cost: $16.85–$33.35

5. San Diego
Annual Big Bay Boom

San Diego’s epic fireworks display—“A Salute to the Military Families of our Service Heroes”—is one of the biggest, best 4th of July parties anywhere. With between 300,000 and 500,000 people expected to attend, this will definitely be a spirited spot to ring in the holiday. Four barges shoot off the fireworks and it is truly spectacular to behold. *Armed Services YMCA receives proceeds from the show.

Fireworks: July 4 at 9:00 PM
Best Views: Shelter Island, Harbor Island, North Embarcadero,  Seaport Village, Coronado Ferry Landing
Cost: Free, but donations welcomed

Are you planning on ringing in the 4th at one of these Fireworks extravaganzas? Let us know your favorite place to celebrate!