Sausalito Fireworks: The Best 4th of July in Marin
Sausalito Fireworks & Events for the 4th of July
NOTE: THE CONTENT BELOW IS FROM OUR 2019 EVENT. PLANS FOR 2021 HAVE NOT BEEN FINALIZED AND ARE DEPENDENT ON THE COVID RISKS STILL PRESENT LATER THIS YEAR. My best guess, sadly, is that there will be no 4th of July Fireworks this year… but I’d love to be wrong!
In Sausalito fireworks headline the best 4th of July event in Marin County. Since the ferries don’t run late (illogically) you can drive or take Golden Gate Transit buses. We have insider parking tips below.
Date: July 4, 2019 Fireworks start at 9:00 PM. (Scroll down for detailed listing of events)
10:00 AM – 12:00 Noon — 4th of July Town Parade down Bridgeway, with floats, music and classic cars
12:00 Noon – 6:30 PM — Picnic in Robin Sweeny Park
6:30 PM – 9:30 PM — Dinner and Fireworks in Gabrielson Park
Note: The Sausalito Ferry and the Golden Gate Transit and Marin Transit buses will both run on their Holiday schedules on July 4. Bridgeway (our main road) will be closed for the parade from 10 AM until after 1:00 PM (from the southern end of town up to Napa St.), and sections of the road may not be cleared and reopened until as late as 4:00 PM.
Parade, Picnic & Sausalito Fireworks Schedule
PARADE 10:00 AM – Noon — As in years past, the 2019 Sausalito 4th of July Parade begins at 2nd and Main St. (Old Town, near where the old Valhalla Restaurant was located) and goes down Bridgeway and then Caledonia all the way to the newly-renovated Robin Sweeny Park. Classic cars, bands and floats with everything from jazz to rock performers will travel down the route. The signups are different every year, but as we’ve watched from our balconies or the sidewalk we typically see (in addition to the musicians) Floats, Politicians, Clowns, Acrobats, Flowers, Balloons and Fun. (We leave you to make up your own jokes based on the juxtaposition of words in the prior sentence!) Since Dunphy Park is being renovated, we stay at Robin Sweeny Park for…
PICNIC Noon to 6:30 PM — 4th of July Picnic, Robin Sweeny Park (See Map Below) Starting at 12:00 Noon there will be live music from the Jimi James Band. Food will be sold by local non-profits Sausalito Rotary Club and Galilee Harbor, and there will be dancing, tug-of-war and the sure-to-inspire-groans and ooohs-and-ahhhs egg toss, a long-time Sausalito tradition that spans generations. The party then moves to…
DINNER & FIREWORKS 6:30 – 9:30 PM at Gabrielson Park (next to the Ferry Pier) with Sausalito Fireworks at approx. 9:00 PM — Live music will be provided by Cap City Band. Food trucks will offer meals and beverages for sale.
To reserve a table for 6 people for $120 (for Sausalito residents) or $130 (for non-residents) call the City at 415-289-4152, prior to June 30, 2019 — as of this writing there were still a number of tables available. There will also be lawn seating. Fireworks will be set off at about 9:00 PM from a barge in the Bay near Gabrielson Park.
Hubris Corner: We Sausalitans, as the small town folks, are proud that many years our Sausalito fireworks shows come off while San Francisco’s are swallowed by Karl the Fog. Just sayin’.
Price: All events other than the tables at the dinner in Gabrielson Park are free to attend — you only pay for food.
Fireworks will be set off at about 9:00 PM from a barge in the Bay near Gabrielson Park. Please support this free program — info on donations is below.
How and Where to See the Sausalito Fireworks
Step One: Parking in Sausalito
If you’re driving to Sausalito from outside the city for the Fourth of July fireworks be sure to get here at least three hours early. Yes, we really said three hours… and that’s if you’re OK with walking a ways or taking the bus from northern Sausalito. To park normally downtown, plan on spending much of the day here. You can read our Sausalito Parking Guide here.
Every year as the first explosions light up the sky a long line of would-be watchers trails down Bridgeway, with zero chance of parking before the show is over. Please arrive early so you’re not one of them!
Where can you park without coming to town before noon? The office building lots (those where there are no stores or restaurants that need the spaces) in the southern Marinship area near the Bay Model and the northern Marinship area near the Post Office are a popular choice, though please stay away from spots with “Reserved” signs, even on a holiday. Golden Gate Transit buses regularly run both ways on Bridgeway from this area to downtown Sausalito, and the walk to downtown Sausalito may take 20 to 40 minutes, depending on where you park and your pace. It’s a nice way to work off some of those extra holiday calories!
Whatever you do, don’t park in restricted residential areas. A lot of parking tickets get written on July 4 in Sausalito when late arrivals panic and park where visitor parking is not permitted, so read posted signs carefully. If you’re in a residential neighborhood and the sign says “residential permit required” it is almost certain that you’ll get a ticket for parking there on the 4th of July.
One year we saw a late-arriving visitor who’d decided to just block the driveway of one of our editors’ neighbors in Old Town…. with the homeowner’s car still in the driveway! Sausalito PD was already there as we walked by, and that must have been an expensive ticket.
Step Two: Watching the Sausalito Fireworks
Gabrielson Park, where the official City events take place.
Sidewalks anywhere with a view of the Bay in Downtown Sausalito and the Bridgeway Promenade. There are some places to stand on the boardwalk in Old Town. We like going to a good restaurant for a leisurely dinner, then walking a few blocks to see the fireworks.
As you go farther north in Sausalito the fireworks views get unpredictable: some places you’ll see them clearly, other places they’ll be hidden behind one of the ridges that separate the valleys of Sausalito.
Most of the same spots that work great for our fireworks also allow you to see the San Francisco fireworks at Fisherman’s Wharf, though many (OK, most) years they are shrouded in fog.
Finally, some folks park in the pay lot in downtown Tiburon (across the Bay from Sausalito), climb up the hill in Belvedere or Tiburon and find spots where they can watch our fireworks from across the Bay. The problem is that the Tiburon lots fill up as fast as those in Sausalito.
A subscriber asked us which hotels in Sausalito offer a view of the Sausalito Fireworks. Casa Madrona has a perfect location if you have a Bay-view room, as does the balcony of any room at Inn Above Tide. We believe that some rooms at the Gables Inn and Hotel Sausalito also will have an excellent viewing angle, but there may be trees blocking some or all of the view in some cases. Cavallo Point has no view of the Sausalito Fireworks, but many rooms will be able to see the San Francisco fireworks across the Bay… if Karl the Fog allows!
Yes, it takes a while for the traffic to clear in Sausalito, but it’s far faster than the post-celebration exodus from San Francisco or the post-County-Fair traffic in San Rafael.
Some people try to cut up to Highway 101 via the narrow Spencer Ave., but this usually backfires since that route can back up and be slower than Bridgeway in the north and the Sausalito Lateral through Fort Baker in the south.
We always advise friends to hang out and have a glass of wine (unless you’re the designated driver!) at a good view restaurant after the show, which is way more fun than fighting the traffic.
Parade Route Map
The Google Map below shows the morning parade route from Old Town up to Robin Sweeny Park. I can think of a couple of years when I decided to sleep in very late on July 4 and woke up to the sounds of the parade going by at the base of the hill!
You can donate money year-round to help pay for the cost of the Sausalito Fireworks — the City takes the risk of fronting the money but each year we have to raise enough in donations so that the money is repaid and we can have fireworks again the next year. Since we’re the biggest fireworks show in Marin the bill comes to $30,000 and every donation helps. You’ll also see donation jars in local stores.
If you would like to donate and become a sponsor, please call 415-289-4152, or send a check payable to “City of Sausalito” to:
Sausalito Parks and Recreation Dept.
420 Litho Street
Sausalito, CA 94965
Watching the Fireworks from a Restaurant
Better yet, get a reservation for a late dinner at a restaurant and then take a short walk to watch the Fourth of July Sausalito fireworks spectacular. Our page on Sausalito restaurant rankings will give you some ideas on where to go.
Public Transit Back to San Francisco
If you’re coming north from San Francisco, the Ferry service back to San Francisco ends before the Sausalito fireworks begin, and cabs are not cheap.
Golden Gate Transit buses are running a Holiday schedule on July 4.
Fireworks photo credit (used by permission of the artist): Evaristo Buendia