An insider’s guide on where to see all the sparkly Independence Day displays without dropping a dime—including how to catch as many shows as possible, music and BBQ at Exposition Park, a rad Hollywood Bowl vantage point and more.
Given the current state of the nation, it’s understandable that you might feel reluctant to celebrate the Fourth of July this year. However, we know that deep in your heart, you still want to see pretty colors go boom. So, here’s a helpful guide to help you discover where cheapskates and unpatriotic pyros go to experience the big bangs for free. For most of these events, you can expect the fireworks to start around 9 p.m.
Councilman Curren Price presents this community festival nearby the Coliseum featuring live music, games and food, as well as a barbecue area and entertainment from KDAY-FM. Fireworks will close out the evening. You’ll be able to enjoy the show, fired from the Coliseum, from points all over South L.A. and near Downtown.
On Independence Day, Grand Park and the Music Center turn into a massive block party. Festivities start at 3 p.m., but food trucks and live music will keep the party going as you wait for the fireworks. They’ll be lit from atop the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion so they’ll be highly visible.
Marina del Rey
Fireworks and waterfronts go together like peanut butter and jelly. At the marina, 20-minutes worth of fireworks will be shot from a barge on the water. The show will be visible from basically anywhere near the water, including Marina del Rey, Venice, Playa Vista and Dockweiler Beach, but the places offering the best views are either at Burton Chace Park or the Fisherman’s Village. At both of these ports of call, loudspeakers will play tunes synchronized to the pyrotechnics.
Since it is, after all, Independence Day, maybe you want to strike out on your own and not be part of a big organized event? Here are some places where you can watch fireworks for free — without all the pomp and circumstance.
Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook
The southern Culver City hillside is probably best known for the big staircase runners have been using to break a sweat since its construction in 2009. However, the steps also make a great vantage point from which to enjoy the citywide fireworks show. You’ll be able to see all of the westside’s fireworks, and if it’s a clear evening, those at the Hollywood Bowl, Exposition Park and downtown as well.
Colorado Street Bridge
If you don’t feel like going to the Rose Bowl’s Americafest, you can still enjoy the self-declared largest fireworks show on the West Coast from Pasadena’s 107-year-old Colorado Street Bridge. Positioned within eyesight of the Rose Bowl, you’ll have no trouble seeing the show for free. If you climb atop the parking structures in nearby Old Town Pasadena, you can enjoy both the Rose Bowl show and fireworks from nearby Alhambra and Monrovia.
It seems a bit cliche, but is it really that surprising that you can watch fireworks from L.A.’s most iconic vantage point? You’re probably going to have to hike as the parking lot will likely be packed — you’re definitely not going to be the only person to have this idea.
Hollywood Bowl Overlook
From this vantage point on Mulholland Drive, you can spy on funk legends Chic as they perform at the Hollywood Bowl (with fireworks), as well as enjoy other fireworks from Hollywood and downtown. If the weather’s clear, you might even be able to see fireworks over the Pacific.
Universal City Overlook
This year, Universal Studios is having their first ever Fourth of July fireworks show. While you probably won’t hear the show’s soundtrack — a mix of patriotic favorites and songs from the Universal songbook — you’ll still be able to enjoy the fireworks, as well as those elsewhere in the San Fernando Valley.
Why stay stationary when you could drive around town and take in as many fireworks shows as possible? It will probably be hard to stay focused on the road as the sky’s exploding above you, so maybe hail a Lyft?
Driving up the Golden State Freeway, you’ll be able to see fireworks going off at the Dodger Stadium, as well as Burbank’s Starlight Bowl. If you’re feeling adventurous, head south to Orange County to view the massive Disneyland fireworks display.
Head west from downtown on the 10 to see the Exposition Park show before ending your journey with views of beachside fireworks; going eastbound will take you by Monterey Park’s fireworks show.
Taking the Hollywood Freeway north from downtown will give you the opportunity to get a glimpse of the shows at Grand Park, Hollywood Forever Cemetery, the Scientology Center, the Hollywood Bowl and Universal Studios. Keep heading west to see shows in Woodland Hills, Westlake Village and Calabasas.
If you get on the 110 in downtown, you’ll be surrounded by both the Dodger Stadium and Grand Park fireworks shows. Continuing south will take you by Exposition Park and Dignity Health Sports Park (home of the L.A. Galaxy), ending at the Cabrillo Beach and waterfront fireworks shows in San Pedro.
Heading east from North Hollywood will allow you to see the fireworks over Universal Studios, as well as those going off at the Rose Bowl.
Once you pass through the McClure Tunnel in Santa Monica, you’ll be treated to the sight of fireworks over the Pacific Ocean, thanks to shows in Pacific Palisades and Malibu, which is practically an L.A. rite of passage. Maybe this year you’ll finally make it happen.