Boasting grand fireworks displays, plenty of opportunities for grilling parties, and an unparalleled view of the Pacific Ocean, the state of California is one of the top 4th of July vacation destinations. Head to the northern part of the state if you prefer a cool, Mediterranean climate, or check out the beachy, ever-sunny southern region. No matter where you decide to book your stay, the vacation rentals in California feel like a familiar home away from home. Whether you’re looking for fireworks that will take your breath away, or the most exciting parades, here are the most vibrant cities in California to spend Independence Day with your family.

1. San Francisco, California

Golden Gate Bridge
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Head to the north for a fourth of July celebration that spans from dawn until dusk. Catch the sight of the sun rising over the Golden Gate bridge (or sleeping in until noon). Then make your way to Pier 39 for some family friendly fun. Live music and street performers will set the scene from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. This will be followed by an incredible fireworks display over the Bay around 9:30 p.m. Browse the shops and special exhibits, and then see the skies light up with fireworks from along the pier or Aquatic Park.

2. San Diego, California

Torrey Pines State Park
Source: Pixabay/gancheva

If the fourth of July is all about the fireworks, you won’t want to miss San Diego’s Big Bay Boom Fireworks Show. Join the 350,000 or so spectators who turn up for the annual show each year, and watch as the fireworks light up the sky from four barges in San Diego Bay. Pack a picnic and spend the day at the La Jolla Shores, or have a day of family fun at Kellogg Park. Then, head for one of the prime viewing spots such as Seaport Village, Harbor Island or North Embarcadero to catch the incredible display.

3. Long Beach, California

Queen Mary Cruise Sheep
Source: Pixabay/skeeze

Make your fireworks-viewing experience extra special by watching the show aboard a boat. Board the Queen Mary, where you and your family can see live entertainment, play family games and take special historic tours on the legendary ship. But if you can’t score tickets, hope aboard a harbor cruise for a special fourth of July celebration. Or head for the Aquarium of the Pacific for some fresh barbecue and a fish-eye view of the Queen Mary fireworks display. Get up bright and early for the annual Kids’ bike parade. As evening falls, you could also stake out a spot along the waterfront, such as Belmont Pier and Veteran’s Stadium, to enjoy an evening of family and fireworks.

4. Lake Tahoe

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Catch the largest synchronized fireworks display in the western united States at Lake Tahoe, California. Known as the Lights on the Lake, fireworks are launched off barges just off the South Shore at Stateline. Watch the spectacle from a boat, or snag a spot for you and your family on the shore. During the day, head to Incline Village for the Red, White and Tahoe Blue Festival, which features a parade and duck races.

5. Columbia, California

Barkerville Gold Rush
Source: Pixabay/ptra

For an old-fashioned fourth of July celebration, head for the Gold Rush town of Columbia. You and your kids can march in the parade, if you have a decorated vehicle (1961 model or order), a pet under 120 pounds, or decide to decorate yourselves. The parade is followed by a concert, street dance and other traditional activities for you and your kids to enjoy.

6. Anaheim, California

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The happiest place on earth is wonderful any time of the year, which is why fireworks fill the sky above Disneyland every night. But the fourth of July is another cause for celebration, with special, all-American entertainment including patriotic performances, concerts and more. Your kids will love hanging out with Mickey and the gang during the day, and then seeing their favorite characters light up the sky at night.

7. Los Angeles, California

Hollywood Sign Iconic Mountains
Source: Pixabay/tpsdave

Music enthusiasts will delight in a fourth of July at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, California. The venue has a special act lined up for Independence Day, as part of its summer concert series. If your family is more into movies than music, check out the summer cemetery screenings at Hollywood Forever. To celebrate Independence Day, Cinespia is bringing a classic cult favorite to the big screen, and amping up festivities with a themed photobooth, DJ and even a fireworks show.

8. Pasadena, California

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The Rose Bowl is another explosive celebration of all things red, white and blue. Chow down on classic American fare, watch a motorcycle stunt show and round off the night with a fireworks display. Kids can get in on the fun with inflatable rides, games and crafts. See how this Rose Bowl tradition, known as Americafest, has been around for more than 90 years. Doors open at 2 p.m., and the fireworks show starts at 9 p.m.

9. Avalon, California

Catalina Island
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Your kids will get a kick out of an island-style fourth of July on Catalina. The island knows how to celebrate the fourth, and you’ll find everything from delicious barbecue to a golf cart parade to fireworks in the beautiful city of Avalon.

10. Alameda, California

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A San Jose Independence Day celebration calls for nothing less than a parade, live music, crafts booths and a picnic on the Alameda. As the tenth anniversary of the Rose, White and Blue parade, the city is hosting its first annual Taste of the Alameda to highlight local restaurants and vendors. Celebrate the fourth, and celebrate community, at this northern California destination.