Explore Naval History & Watch the Fireworks at San Diego’s Waterfront
San Diego Bayfront
Celebrate the Fourth of July Weekend along San Diego Bay by exploring Naval history at the Maritime Museum of San Diego and USS Midway Museum. Both museums are open daily from 10 a.m. to last admission at 4 p.m. Get Maritime Museum tickets here and USS Midway tickets here.
On July 4, make the Maritime Museum your special spot to view the Big Bay Boom fireworks from the Berkeley steam ferry or the waterfront barge with tickets here. You can even add a traditional picnic with hotdogs and more! The Museum’s premiere waterfront location makes this experience the ideal spot to share the annual holiday.
Stir your imagination at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (Downtown) at the new solo exhibition by Los Angeles-based artist Carmen Argote and the major acquisition of her work, Carmen Argote: Filtration System for a Process-based Practice. Complementing the theme of California’s trailblazing artists is The Reason for the Neutron Bomb, which features powerful works by Chris Burden and Byron Kim; and Figurative Vocabularies: Selections from the Collection. Get tickets here.
This holiday is about celebrating freedom and downtown San Diego is where you will find “The Buses are Coming,” a Civil Rights Movement exhibition presented by the San Diego African American Museum of Fine Arts and its Executive Director Gaidi Finnie. East Village’s outdoor Quartyard lends texture to the 1961 story of the Freedom Riders, young activists who challenged segregation by traveling to the South in mixed-race buses (and were quickly arrested). Watch their social media page here for details on upcoming events at the exhibit.
Come celebrate the 4th with Chevys, Mustangs, and Harleys! The San Diego Automotive Museum will be OPEN on the 4th of July until 2:30 p.m., so rev up your engines and come on down to the coolest place in town!
Happy Fourth of July! Many museums are open today including:
A salute to the military! From July 1 to July 4, all active-duty, retired, and spouses of military service members can visit the San Diego Model Railroad Museum for free by showing your ID at the ticket booth. Doors are open daily all weekend from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. You may purchase regular tickets here. Open July , from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Spanning over 27,000 square feet of trains, trestles, and tracks, the museum researches, collects, preserves and presents the heritage of American railroading. BONUS: San Diego residents get free admission on July 5 (and every first Tuesday of each month). Learn more about Balboa Park’s Residents Free Days here.
Friday Nights at the Park
Kick off Friday nights with Happy Hour at Balboa Park! Get your tickets and enjoy cocktails, crafts and live music on the second floor terrace of the Mingei International Museum starting at 5 p.m. for Meet Me at Mingei. Or you can kick off your weekends at the San Diego Natural History Museum this summer with NAT at Night on Fridays with drinks, bites from Wolf in the Woods. The Museum is open until 10 p.m. on Fridays, with half-price admission after 4 p.m. when the roof top deck opens and offers one of the best views in Balboa Park. And if ground level is more your style, enjoy cocktails and live music at Panama 66, located in the San Diego Museum of Art’s May S. Marcy Sculpture Court.
Blue Star Museums
San Diego County
This Fourth of July Weekend and through through Labor Day, active-duty military and their families can enjoy free admission at participating museums thanks to a collaboration with the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families and the U.S. Department of Defense.
Blue Star Museums in San Diego include Bonita Museum and Cultural Center, Coronado Historical Association, Gaslamp Museum at the Davis-Horton House, Japanese Friendship Garden, Mingei International Museum, Miniature Engineering Craftsmanship Museum, Museum of Making Music, Museum of Photographic Arts, The New Children’s Museum, San Diego Automotive Museum, San Diego Museum of Art and Visions Museum of Textile Art.
Celebrate the Legacy of Rosie
Celebrate the Fourth of July and the legacy of one of our most patriotic sheroes, Rosie the Riveter, during Women’s Museum of California‘s July 2 Free Saturday Program. Visitors to the Women’s Museum of California’s Education Center at 404 Euclid Avenue in San Diego will receive a FREE Rosie the Riveter Poster (while supplies last). Kids’ activities include decorating their own Rosie inspired bandana, making feminist buttons, and storytime with a Rosie the Riveter themed picture book.
Our spidey-sense is tingling . . . something AMAZING is coming. Get tickets here to see Spider-Man: Beyond Amazing – The Exhibition opening July 1 at the Comic-Con Museum. Make it a double and get tickets here to the Night at the Comic-Con Museum event to celebrate the induction of Marvel’s Spider-Man to its Museum Character Hall of Fame on Wednesday, July 20.
The California Tower at the Museum of Us is one of San Diego’s most iconic historic landmarks. Make the climb on a 40-minute guided tour that highlights the origins of Balboa Park and culminates in breathtaking 360-degree views of San Diego—from the Pacific Ocean in the west to the Cuyamaca Mountains in the east, and beyond. Open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. except Mondays and Tuesdays. Get tower tour tickets here.
As one of the top neighborhoods in “America’s Finest City” La Jolla has its own free fireworks show in La Jolla Cove that takes place from 8 p.m. until 10 p.m. on the night of July 4th. La Jolla is also home to three other great ways to make this a great holiday weekend: the La Jolla Historical Society, The Birch Aquarium and the newly renovated Museum of Contemporary Art.
While in La Jolla stop by the La Jolla Historical Society and experience the new exhibit “Voices from the Rez” that celebrates the work of ten Native American artists living on reservations in San Diego and Riverside Counties and working across all media, from painting and sculpture, to fashion, narrative writing, and music. San Diego County is home to eighteen reservations —more than any other county in the United States— and to prolific and varied creative output of Indigenous contemporary artists working today. You can enjoy exhibit through Wednesdays through Sundays at their Wisteria Cottage Gallery until September 4.
Birch Aquarium at Scripps showcases research findings in a fun, hands-on way that kids love. Start on the aquarium side where you can learn about the fish and kelp that live in our San Diego Ocean and beyond. This is one is fun for the whole family and one of the best things to do in La Jolla with toddlers and elementary school-aged kids. Get your tickets in advance here.
This newly expanded Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla makes art interesting and accessible to all families. You can also check out their all new The Shop at MCASD that’s full of fun things for the kids and you. The second Sunday of the month offers free Prebys Play Days for families that includes hands-on projects and learning. Plus kids have always loved the sculpture garden, too.
“Ooo & aah” with Country’s Lorrie Morgan, Marine Band & Fireworks
California Center for the Arts, Escondido
There’s something for everyone at the FREE 57th Annual Independence Day Concert & Fireworks at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido on July 4 from 5 to 9:30 p.m. Catch country music star Lorrie Morgan live and the Third Marine Aircraft Wing Band at Grape Day Park’s Great Green.
Children can enjoy face painters along with craft activities and games. Food and merchant vendors will set up in the park and food trucks will line up along Broadway Avenue. Then end the night with a dazzling fireworks display. HINT: Purchase VIP seats here for extras like a buffet and reserved seats.
Carlsbad Kid Combo
Kids will love visiting Carlsbad’s captivating Museum of Making Music and equally amazing Miniature Engineering Craftsmanship Museum. Nurture the budding musician with multimedia displays with plenty of fun opportunities for hands-on play. Then switch to left-brain learning with more than 200 functional engines, ships, circus acts, tools and toys.
While in La Jolla stop by the La Jolla Historical Society and experience the new exhibit “ “Voices from the Rez” that celebrates the work of ten Native American artists living on reservations in San Diego and Riverside Counties and working across all media, from painting and sculpture, to fashion, narrative writing, and
From Chicken Chat to asking Big Science Questions, kids love the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum in Escondido. The hands-on programs inspire children to explore, imagine, and experiment with science, art, and world culture exhibits. Discover what’s happening today on their calendar here and always keep us to date with all the fun happing at the Museum by signing up for their newsletter here. Closed on July 4 but open daily except Sundays and Mondays.
In Oceanside this weekend you can enjoy the beautiful grounds of the Mission San Luis Rey, the largest of California’s 21 missions. While there, explore the museum or sign your kids up for the Mission’s first-ever SUMMER CAMP FOR KIDS the week of July 11-15. Plus, you can still get tickets for the Mission’s Outdoor Concert Series featuring country music by Savannah on July 8. Get your tickets here for a “kick-up-your-boots” fun evening of music and dancing at the Mission Pavilion.
Look no further than the California Surf Museum located in downtown Oceanside for some fun this weekend. This family-friendly museum has a stunning collection of surfboards, archives, exhibits and more. With a permanent collection which chronicles the history of surfboards and wave-riding, the museum also offers many revolving exhibits each year. It has acquired a rare set of archives and collections gathered over more than 30 years, comprising one of the world’s richest troves of surfing history.
Minerva Cuevas launches her residency with ICA San Diego by covering the gallery walls with oil, imagining a new environment that has been taken over by the extracted fossil fuel. Minerva Cuevas: Dark Matter is the interdisciplinary Mexican artist’s first solo exhibition in San Diego. The exhibition runs through July 31 at ICA North. Make your reservation to visit here. TIP: ICA Central in Balboa Park opens its NextGen exhibition on July 15. Learn more here.
Celebrate nature and the environment this holiday weekend at the Tijuana Estuary. The Tijuana Estuary Visitor Center is the place to start for a visit to the vast natural setting. This wetlands habitat at the mouth of Tijuana River is between the city of Imperial Beach and the US border with Mexico. It is a birding mecca with many different vantage points for watching birds. It’s a great place for hiking, biking and more for the whole family.
Plus the City of Imperial is excited to introduce a new environmentally friendly way to enjoy the 4th of July with a drone light show for 2022. The City has contracted with Verge Aero to light up the sky with a high-tec drone show from the iconic Imperial Beach pier. The celebration begins at 7:30 p.m. at Pier Plaza with a patriotic performance by the Marine Band San Diego.
There’s great fun to be had this weekend in Chula Vista. You can get up close with the unique coastal wildlife of San Diego with the Living Coast Discovery Museum. Greet a sea turtle as she swims up to say hello! Get eye-to-eye with a bald eagle or touch a bat ray in their interactive touch pool.