The 4th of July Partyon the USS Hornet will not have fireworks, but that doesn't mean you'll miss the day's grand finale. The World War II aircraft carrier floats in perfect range of the displays over Oakland and San Francisco, and there's nothing like standing aboard a flight deck watching bombs burst to make you feel downright patriotic. The day is filled with activities -- face-painting and clowns for the kids; a flight simulator and alcohol for the adults -- as well as music acts like the Heartbeats and Marimba Pacifica. Plus, the 2005 Funbox Touris hauling out ramps, rails, and crazy wooden boxes for professional skateboarders like Pat Washington to whale upon in the hangar deck. Events run from 2 to 10 p.m. on the USS Hornet, Pier 3, Alameda Point. Admission is $5-15; call (510) 521-8448 or visit www.hornetevents.com. -- Michael Leaverton
A mystery lies in the marshes of San Francisco Bay, and only true detectives with shrewd minds and big magnifying glasses can solve it. OK, OK, so it's a "family activity." But doesn't the Crissy Field Mystery Trail Challenge sound like a good time for your whole group of friends and/or tribe of Burning Man enthusiasts? Nosy sleuths will find a booklet describing their mission, should they choose to accept it, at the Warming Hut. Next come nine clues strewn along a one-mile stretch of trail -- good (sorta clean) fun, whoever you are. The trail opens at 9 a.m. on Friday at the Presidio's Crissy Field, Halleck & Mason, S.F. Participation is free; call 561-7752 or visit www.crissyfield.org. -- Hiya Swanhuyser
Hornblower Jazz in the park
Most musicians who perform downtown, outside, in the middle of the day, don't warrant applause or even attendance -- spare change is usually thanks enough. But office-dwellers have caught on to the "International Music Series," spending their lunchtimes splayed out on the grassy oasis at Yerba Buena and soaking up eclectic sounds from around the world.
Today's reason to clear the schedule is the Richard Howell Quintet, America's jazz-band entry in the series. Howell, a saxophonist, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist, is one of the Bay Area's leading jazzmen and has played his charismatic, emotive sax at the Monterey Jazz Festival, on The Tonight Show, and at Royal Albert Hall, among other locales. Bring a jazz hat for the sun starting at 12:30 p.m. to Yerba Buena Gardens, Fourth & Mission streets, S.F. Admission is free; call 543-1718 or visit www.ybgf.org. -- Michael Leaverton