Where to get your fill of fireworks, festivals and food throughout the 650.

Fireworks at California’s Great America illuminate the amusement park. Courtesy California’s Great America.

By Julia Gentin and Akhil Joondeph

This Independence Day, enjoy parades, fireworks, artistic displays, live music and much more on the Peninsula. Palo Alto has brought back its popular chili cook-off after several years’ hiatus, while Redwood City is hosting a wide range of festivities, from a pancake breakfast and parade to a chalk art festival. And in Mountain View, the San Francisco Symphony’s annual Fourth of July concert at Shoreline Amphitheatre is capped off by fireworks. Here’s your complete guide to Independence Day 2023:

A man rides a horse at Half Moon Bay’s 2022 Fourth of July parade. Courtesy city of Half Moon Bay.

Half Moon Bay Ol’ Fashioned Fourth of July Parade: Start the day on the coast with a pancake breakfast at 8 a.m. Attendees can gather on Main Street at noon to see floats, classic cars, horses and more march along the parade route. Stick around for the 40-member Sitting Marching Band’s performance and a block party. 

Half Moon Bay Ol’ Fashioned 4th of July Parade & Block Party July 4 starting at noon on Main Street in Half Moon Bay. Attendance is free.

Pacifica Rocket Run: Start your festivities early with Pacifica’s annual 5-mile Rocket Run race. All ages and abilities are welcome. Medals will be awarded to the top six participants in each division.

Pacifica Rocket Run July 4. Check-in begins at 8 a.m. and the race starts at 9 a.m. at the Pacifica Community Center, 540 Crespi Drive. The registration fee is $25.

4th of July in the Park, San Mateo: Head to Central Park for a concert and family-friendly activities including face painting, a bounce house and obstacle course, crafts and a rock wall. Food trucks Humphrey Slocombe, Ta’Contreras and Rock Club Burgers will be selling ice cream, tacos, quesadillas and burgers (note that beer and wine will not be sold.)

4th of July in the Park July 4 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at Central Park, 50 E 5th Ave., San Mateo. Family-friendly activities start at 11 a.m., flag-raising ceremony and national anthem at 11:45 a.m., concert from noon-2 p.m. Admission is free. 

Chalk Full of Fun brings together professional chalk artists and newbies to create colorful sidewalk masterpieces. Courtesy Baranduin Briggs/Redwood City Parks and Arts Foundation.

Foster City Fourth of July Celebration: Start off the day with a pancake breakfast at Leo J. Ryan Park or all-day food trucks on Shell Boulevard. Andy Z, Fog City Swampers and Township are all performing at the park’s amphitheater. Activities include a kids’ play zone and a family and dog parade. And at night, all ages can enjoy scenic fireworks over the lagoon.

Foster City Fourth of July Celebration July 4 from 9 a.m.-9:45 p.m. at Leo Ryan Park, 650 Shell Blvd., Foster City. Attendance is free. 

Chalk Full of Fun, Redwood City: Watch local chalk artists create temporary masterpieces in Redwood City’s Courthouse Square on July 3 and 4. Organized by the Redwood City Parks and Arts Foundation, this annual event promises to delight art connoisseurs and families alike, as participants can sign up for a square and chalk to create their own works of art.

Chalk Full of Fun July 3 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and July 4 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. at Courthouse Square, 2200 Broadway, Redwood City. The event is free.

Redwood City Independence Day Parade, Festival and Fireworks: The Peninsula Celebration Association will once again host its annual Fourth of July parade in Redwood City this year, hailed as the largest Independence Day parade in Northern California, according to the event’s website. Since 1939, the celebratory procession has marched through Redwood City’s historic downtown. Redwood City-born actress Linda Cardellini will be the grand marshal. A pancake breakfast in support of local firefighters kicks off the day. The Peninsula Celebration Association also hosts a festival with arts and crafts booths, food, drinks and kid-friendly activities at Courthouse Square. End the day with a bang at the Port of Redwood City’s fireworks show. 

Redwood City Independence Day Parade, Festival and Fireworks July 4. Parade begins at 10 a.m. at Brewster Avenue and Winslow Street, Redwood City. Pancake breakfast 8-11 a.m. at Fire Station 9, 755 Marshall St., Redwood City. Breakfast is $10. The festival takes place 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at Courthouse Square, 2200 Broadway, Redwood City. Fireworks at 9:30 p.m. at the Port of Redwood City, 675 Seaport Blvd., Redwood City.  

An Old-Fashioned Fourth, Redwood City: Take a trip back in time at the San Mateo County History Museum July 4. The museum’s patriotic programs include workshops in craft-making styles from the 1880s, as well as a film screening of “A Beautiful Place To Live,” highlighting films from the museum’s archives that look at life on the Peninsula during the 1930s. Bring the little ones along to create pinwheels and paper parachutes.

An Old-Fashioned Fourth July 4 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. with film screening at 1 p.m. at the San Mateo County History Museum, 2200 Broadway, Redwood City. Tickets are $3 for adults, $2 for students and seniors, and free for children 5 and under.

Ethan, 6, goes down a slide at Menlo Park’s 4th of July celebration in 2019. Menlo Park’s 2023 celebration will be its first since then. Photo by Sadie Stinson.

Menlo Park 4th of July: The city of Menlo Park hosts an Independence Day parade down Santa Cruz Avenue for the first time since 2019. The parade will be followed by live music, games and food at the end of the parade route in Fremont Park. 

Menlo Park 4th of July July 4 from 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Parade participants gather at 10:45 a.m. in the Maloney Street parking lot behind Cheeky Monkey. Parade concludes at Fremont Park, Santa Cruz Avenue and University Drive, Menlo Park. The event is free.

4th of July Summer Festival and Chili Cook-Off, Palo Alto: The city of Palo Alto will once again host the annual 4th of July Summer Festival and Chili Cook-Off at Mitchell Park. In addition to the celebrated chili-making competition, the event will feature live music, food trucks and child-friendly games and activities. Cash prizes will be awarded for best spirit, best decorated booth, best overall chili and people’s choice chili. Attendees are encouraged to bring chairs, picnic blankets and reusable water bottles.

4th of July Summer Festival and Chili Cook-Off July 4 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at Mitchell Park, 600 E. Meadow Drive, Palo Alto. The event is free. 

Woodside Junior Rodeo participants take turns on the mechanical bull. Photo by Ana Sofia Amieva-Wang.

71st Annual Woodside Junior Rodeo: This local tradition features rodeo events such as barrel racing and pole-bending. Attendees can enjoy pony rides, a petting zoo, vendors and a barbecue. A pre-rodeo dinner takes place the evening before the rodeo.

Woodside Junior Rodeo July 3, 6 p.m. pre-rodeo dinner; tickets are $20-$30; July 4, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. rodeo. Tickets are $10-$15. Both the dinner and rodeo take place at Mounted Patrol of San Mateo County, 521 Kings Mountain Road, Woodside.

Ice Cream and Brass Band Celebration, Portola Valley: Brassworks Quintet performs standards and patriotic-themed tunes, and the dancers of Stanford Quad teach square-dancing steps at this event hosted by Ladera Community Church, which also features an ice cream social. Guests are encouraged to bring their favorite ice cream topping to share.

Brass Band and Ice Cream Celebration July 2 from 6-7 p.m. at Ladera Community Church, 3300 Alpine Road, Portola Valley. The event is free.

4th of July Parade, Los Altos Hills: The city of Los Altos Hills is hosting its 12th annual Independence Day parade. A new addition to the parade this year will be riders from the Los Altos Hills Horsemen’s Association. The parade concludes with refreshing beverages and fresh watermelon for all.

4th of July Parade July 4 from 9:30-11 a.m. at Los Altos Hills Town Hall, 26379 Fremont Road, Los Altos Hills. The event is free.

Fireworks will light up the sky at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View. Photo by Natalia Nazarova.

Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular at Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View: The San Francisco Symphony returns for its annual Independence Day celebration at Shoreline Amphitheatre. Featuring a diverse musical repertoire, the concert will include works by John Williams and George Gershwin, as well as a tribute to Aretha Franklin with vocalist Capathia Jenkins. The evening of music will culminate in a spectacular fireworks display after dark.

Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular July 4, 8 p.m. at Shoreline Amphitheatre, One Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View. Tickets are $18-$168.50.

Autism on Tap: Independence Day Edition, Sunnyvale: The Autism Society of the San Francisco Bay Area hosts a festive gathering with food, drinks and live music for families who have children with autism or special needs at Old Greenwood BBQ at Sunken Gardens Golf Course in  Sunnyvale. Appetizers will be provided, but guests can also order full meals.

Autism on Tap: Independence Day Edition July 2 from 3:30-6:30 p.m. at Sunken Gardens Golf Course, 1010 S. Wolfe Road, Sunnyvale. The event is free but online registration is required. 

Cupertino Independence Day Celebration: The city of Cupertino offers a packed Independence Day celebration. Savor a pancake breakfast at the Quinlan Community Center, watch a Boy Scout-led flag-raising ceremony at Memorial Park and dance along to tunes at a concert featuring the Arena band. End your celebration with an illuminating fireworks display at Hyde Middle School.

Cupertino Independence Day Celebration July 4 from 7:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Breakfast is at the Quinlan Community Center at 10185 North Stelling Road, flag raising is at Memorial Park, 21251 Stevens Creek Blvd., and fireworks are at Hyde Middle School, 19325 Bollinger Road, all in Cupertino. Breakfast tickets are $13 for adults and $9 for children 12 and under, and the other events are free. 

Great America Fourth of July Celebration, Santa Clara: Celebrate Independence Day like a daredevil at Great America: ride roller coasters for hours, dine on smoked BBQ meats, esquite street corn and churros at the theme park’s backyard cookout and enjoy fireworks at the Pavilion.

Great America Fourth of July Celebration July 4 from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. at 4701 Great America Parkway, Santa Clara. Cookout is $24.95 for children 12 and under and $49.95 for adults. Visit their website for complete admission rates.

People watch a performance at Santa Clara’s Fourth of July Celebration on July 4, 2022, in Central Park. Courtesy city of Santa Clara.

Santa Clara Fourth of July All City Picnic: Relax and picnic on the lush green fields of Santa Clara’s Central Park, surrounded by friends, and family. Play carnival games, enjoy live entertainment, swimming, and plenty of food from La Burbuja Taco Truck, Rocko’s Ice Cream Tacos and seven other food trucks and stands.

Santa Clara Fourth of July All City Picnic July 4 from noon-5 p.m. at Central Park, 909 Kiely Blvd., Santa Clara. Kids’ zone is $15, pool is $5 per person. Attendance is free.

Los Gatos Symphony in the Park: Grab food from local food trucks and spend time in the park with friends and family while listening to the San Jose Wind Symphony. Family-friendly activities, including bounce houses and the Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad and Carousel, will also run during the event. 

4th of July Symphony in the Park July 4 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at Oak Meadow Park, 233 Blossom Hill Road, Los Gatos. Attendance is free.

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