Entertainment & Events

It’s the Fourth of July: Which activity will you choose?

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July is finally here, and that means a couple of important things to those of us who occupy San Diego.

First, June gloom—the downer that it is each year— should be coming to an end.  Everyone can let out their collectively held breath and look forward to clear blue skies until November.  Ah, it feels better already.

Second, the mother of all summer holidays— the Fourth of July—is just a few days away.

Got Plans?  Need activity ideas for Monday?

Obviously a good place to start would be at the beach; it’s what San Diego does best.

The amounts of activities that the beach provides are nearly endless.  Surfing, swimming, sunbathing, a place for kids to play, picnics, fire pits and places to grill are just a very few of your options here.

Don’t deny it.  If you were born in San Diego, it’s why you haven’t left yet.  If you are from somewhere else, it’s the reason you moved here.  It doesn’t get much better than a day at the beach.

Ocean, Mission and Pacific Beach tend to attract the younger crowds, as there are plenty of bars within walking distance to quench the thirst that can build up from a heated game of beach volleyball.  House parties have also become a staple of these areas since the beach-drinking ban took effect.

Each of these areas offers firework shows that start at 9 p.m.  If you are in the Pacific or Mission beach area, make your way to the bay for the Sea World firework show.  The Ocean Beach fireworks will be shot off from the end of the pier, and it has been confirmed by personal sources that paddling out on a surfboard to sit next to the pier and watch the fireworks from there will probably be one of the coolest things you ever do.  Just be careful as surfing at night can be dangerous.

If you’re looking for a place to take the kids, the beaches and parks surrounding Mission Bay are always a good, quieter option.  Also, starting from north Pacific Beach on up the coast, the beaches are generally considered to be family friendly.  The surfing usually seems to improve the farther north you go as well.

Both La Jolla Shores and La Jolla Cove offer some particularly enticing activities this Fourth of July.  There are plenty of places to picnic, including both Kellogg and Ellen Browning Scripps Park.  It’s here that you can catch a free concert in the park starting at 5 p.m.  Kayaking among the leopard sharks and seals in the cove is always a great time.  Or if you wish to stay dry, take a walk along the La Jolla coast and check out the cliffs, beautiful views, restaurants, shopping centers and, of course, Seal Beach.  Scout out a good spot to sit and watch the fireworks that will go off over La Jolla Bay at 9 p.m.

If you would like to spend your Fourth of July on an island, head out to Coronado for a plethora of activities taking place on Monday.  The 36th annual Independence Day 15K Run-5K Run/Walk through Tidelands Park starts at 7 a.m.  From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. you can check out the art show in Spreckels Park, with a free concert in the park to follow.  Hop in the water at 9 a.m. for the 52nd annual Rough Water Swim at Central Beach.  And at 10 a.m., find a spot along Orange Ave for the 63rd annual Independence Day Parade.  Or if you would rather do your own thing, relax on the family-friendly Coronado beaches or grab a drink at the Hotel Del and enjoy the views.  Coronado offers a great place to watch San Diego’s largest firework display, “The Big Bay Boom 2011” that will take place over San Diego Bay at 9 p.m.

Several other communities in the San Diego area offer Fourth of July activities as well.  Get in touch with the roots of San Diego civilization at the Old Town State Park from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Activities include a parade, crafts, pie eating contests and wagon rides.

The Old Poway Park in Poway offers plenty of interesting, cheap options for families and kids from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a firework display to start at 9 p.m. at the Poway High School.  Admission to the fun is $2 for kids 11 and older, free for anyone younger.

Mira Mesa will kick off its celebration at 11:30 a.m. with a parade followed by entertainment including rides, games and food at the Mira Mesa Community Park.  Fireworks will again start at 9 p.m.

Speaking of rides, food, and games, who can forget about the San Diego County Fair?  The festivities end on the fourth, so it’s your last chance to enjoy the carnival and all the greasy food you can imagine, including the now-famous deep-fried Kool-Aid.  This will probably be one of the busiest days at the fair so be prepared, but if you haven’t made it to Del Mar yet, it’s definitely worth the trip.  The fair will close with a firework display starting at 9:30 p.m.

And if any of the previously mentioned activities don’t appeal to your idea of fun on the Fourth of July, take a hike—literally. Hiking presents a great opportunity to spend a beautiful day outside, get some exercise, and do something different than everyone else on the fourth. If everyone is heading to the beaches and parks, why not ditch the crowds and head to one of the many awesome trails that San Diego has to offer?

Torrey Pines has numerous trail heads that take you all over the cliffs, and all the way down to the ocean, if you choose.  And you really can’t beat the scenery here.  Cowles Mountain is another great location that offers multiple hiking options ranging from easy trails that take a couple hours to more difficult ones that may take most of the day.  Again, the scenery is one-of-a-kind.  If you really want to get away from the crowds, the Julian area offers plenty of hiking options as well.  Plan on making a day out of it by throwing a few sandwiches and drinks in a bag and at any point during any of these hikes, stop, kick back and turn it into a picnic.

No matter what you choose to do with your holiday, it’s quite obvious that there probably isn’t a better place to spend the Fourth of July than in San Diego.  So relax, have fun, be safe and maybe continue to hold your collective breath.  The weather forecast for Monday?  Partly cloudy.  Enjoy!

Photos courtesy of zemistor via flickr and the U.S. Navy via Wikimedia Commons

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