How do you like to spend your 4th of July holiday? Do you visit family? Or do you go to a potluck? Do you fire up the grill at home?
Us? We travel. We’ve passed the holiday at the beach; we have spent it with bears. We’ve even celebrated the long American holiday weekend with Canadians.
And we made a special trip south to our fellow west coast city of San Francisco.
For the day, itself, we had a lot in store.
Biking the shore
We started our 4th of July with a self-guided bike tour of the city. Curious to try an elusive tandem bike, we strapped on our helmets and set out from Fisherman’s Wharf. Fortunately, we tend to get along quite well, so we could stand to be confined together to a single two-wheeled vehicle for the day. I could just let him do all the pedaling if he got on my nerves 😉
The shoreline is a very pleasant route, and we breathed deep of the cool summer air as we made our way westward. We took in the sights, and I of course took many pictures along the way.
We took a break at a lookout just east of the Golden Gate Bridge, and I was finally able to secure some pictures of the selfsame landmark. I got to play around a bit with forced perspective, and we watched the countless joggers slap the wall at the base of the bridge to mark their completion of their routine course.
Then the fun began.
Crossing the bridge
We followed the path up the hill and through a tunnel to become level with the bridge. We then joined the throngs of tourists crossing the 1.7-mile span.
The pedestrian walkway along the outer edge of the bridge is actually quite accommodating, and we had little trouble navigating the distance with our bike. However, we still stopped frequently as I fervently begged Aaron to let me take another picture.
I was glad to cross the bridge on bike; I feel it would have been slightly arduous via foot, though we’re not shy when it comes to hiking. Biking simply afforded us a happy balance between speed and photo possibilities.
Our route took us to the north shore of the bay, where we stopped for yet more pictures at the iconic viewpoint. From there, we descended into Sausalito.
Returning to the pier
By this point, we had come quite far from our initial departure point (about 8 miles, in fact), and many hours had passed. Needless to say, after a lovely lunch in the sunshine at a Sausalito cafe, we weren’t exactly jonesing for a backtrack trek on a tandem bike.
Take the ferry, of course!
The ferry from Sausalito back to Pier 39 was a relaxing ride – no pedaling involved. We took in the views of Alcatraz as it loomed beside us, and we soaked in yet more sunshine. The skyline grew before us, and sooner than we would have thought, we found ourselves back where we started, circuit completed. Good thing, too, because we were short on time and had to race back to our quaint little anime hotel to change for the evening’s festivities.
Cruising the bay
Evening settled in, and we were once more down at the shoreline, dressed in our finest for the 4th of July festivities. The Hornblower welcomed us with open planks, railings bedecked in festive colors.
We set sail just before 7pm, and we were treated to a delectable four-course meal consisting of dungeness crab cakes, a salad, filet mignon with prawns and potatoes, and finished with berry-topped chocolate cake.
We then filled the next couple of hours dancing inside, wandering the deck outside, running back inside to thaw, taking pictures, sipping straight Baileys (don’t judge), and waiting for the sun to go down.
As the sun sank below the horizon, the boat took us under the Golden Gate Bridge for some evening pictures. Aaron was right; we didn’t walk across the bridge, but I certainly had ample opportunity to photograph it.
4th of July in San Francisco
Darkness finally descended, and we puttered our way back into the bay for the apogee of the evening: a dual fireworks display.
We marveled as colors burst overhead left and right; we oohed and ahed. I tried in vain to capture low-light fireworks from an undulating surface.
In the end, we had a marvelous time (failed photos aside). The food was incredible, and the views were superb. Following an active day in the sun, it was the perfect way to wrap up the holiday.
Now, with each new 4th, we’ll likely be traveling again – hopefully someplace new. And we’ll always fondly remember our holiday in that bayside city.
Where will the 4th find you this year?
Psst… do you want to read more about our epic road trip to San Francisco? You might also enjoy these:
- A Road Trip to San Francisco
- 6 Things You Don’t Want to Miss in San Francisco
- Visiting San Francisco’s Alcatraz Island
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3 thoughts on “How to Best Celebrate the 4th of July in San Francisco”
What an absolutely INCREDIBLE time. So glad you enjoyed all SF has to offer 🙂 We have done the Hornblower tour before- it was one of the most magical experiences we have ever had here. Thanks for sharing such amazing memories!
Thank you, Mackenzie! We had such a blast! We look back on that year on the bay quite fondly 🙂