Fog (always) permitting, San Francisco will blow up stuff in the sky for the Fourth. Remember the dud that was San Diego's show last year? Ours promises to be better. Here are some of the best places to see the light.
Pier 39/Aquatic Park
There's nowhere closer to the show than this classic location. Come early though, not only because it fills up quickly, but also for a 1980s flashback. Tainted Love will be playing from 4 to 7 p.m. Those with kids or hallucinogens can walk down to East Park before the show starts and meet the Smurfs at Smurf Village. The show starts about 9:30 p.m.
Coit Tower (1 Telegraph Hill Blvd.)
If you prefer a little hiking with your viewing, and a break from the waterfront crowds, the top of Telegraph Hill might be for you. There is nothing formal planned here, and the Tower staff will stick to the usual 7 p.m. close time, but on a clear night the top of Telegraph Hill offers great views of the sky and water.
Treasure Island (200 California Ave.)
For those even more averse to crowds, check out Treasure Island, where you can watch the fireworks from the waterfront, enjoy food from local food trucks, and sip some wine at The Winery SF, which hosts its third annual "Red, White and Rosé Celebration." $15 will buy a tasting flight, but there's no cost for those who just want to camp out on the shore for the show. 735-8423 or winery-sf.com.
Exploratorium After Dark: Boom (Pier 15)
From 6 to 10 p.m. the Exploratorium hosts its weekly after hours event, only this time: July Fourth theme! Find out about the science behind fireworks so you can impress your friends with detailed descriptions of how an implosion differs from an explosion. Or, just go to enjoy the "explosive potential of liquid nitrogen." Price is $15 per person. 528-4444 or exploratorium.edu.
Red White & Brew Pub Crawl (Stars at 1980 Union St.)
Catch snippets of the fireworks and celebrate in drunken American fashion on this annual pub-crawl that starts near Union and Fillmore Street. Drinks are cheap ($2-$4) as you stumble from pub to pub down Fillmore towards the Marina, but go up by two bucks after 10 p.m. Registration is from noon to 8 p.m. on the Fourth of July at Extreme Pizza.
Speakeasy Fourth of July Cruise (Boards at Pier 40)
This annual nighttime bay cruise boasts a 1920s theme this year, but don't worry, there'll still be plenty of booze on this four-hour night cruise around the bay. Enjoy the open bar and small apps and snacks while watching the fireworks over the city. 573-0740 or ournightlife.com. Jennifer Baires
Fourth of July on the USS Hornet (707 W. Hornet Ave., Alameda)
If you're feeling particularly patriotic this Fourth of July, take your requisite fireworks and barbeque routine onto the historic USS Hornet and "support a national treasure." As with many retired military vessels, the Hornet offers a bounce house, Celtic rock band, and a jet fighter mission via flight simulator against the backdrop of San Francisco's traditional fireworks show — exactly the sort of thing that constitutes American adventure. The USS Hornet has a rich naval history, having participated in WW II and the Apollo 11 and 12 manned moon missions before serving as a permanently docked air and space museum. Its annual Independence Day celebration has become a Bay Area tradition, with proceeds going to the preservation of the museum and ship's significant historical role. The show starts at 11 a.m. Admission is $25. uss-hornet.org. Neha Talreja