SAN DIEGO — It’s been a decade since a designated Fourth of July fireworks show lit up Mission Bay, but 2022 marks the return of the waterfront display, scheduled one day early to kick off the holiday.
For years, residents gathered on boats or the shore to watch fireworks launch from a barge in Sail Bay, the western body of water near the border of Mission Beach and Pacific Beach. The tradition ended back in 2012 after a nearly 30-year run, when the Mission Bay Yacht Club said they simply didn’t have the budget to keep up the operation.
That’s changing thanks to a fundraiser from the yacht club that successfully raised more than $48,000 to secure a permit, the barge and other elements for the show’s triumphant return July 3. Several local hotels partnered with the club to help raise the money and organize the event.
Here’s what you need to know to catch the show:
When are the fireworks on Mission Bay in 2022?
The display is scheduled for the Sunday before Independence Day, July 3, at 9 p.m.
Because it’s a day early, the show won’t go head-to-head with the Big Bay Boom, the huge display on San Diego Bay that you can also watch on FOX 5. Review our full guide to shows around the county here.
Where to watch the show
The fireworks will launch from a barge between the Mission Bay Yacht Club’s property (on El Carmel Place) and Crown Point Bridge. That situates the show on the west side of the bay, between Mission Beach and the point of Pacific Beach that extends into the water. Check out a map here.
For the general public, there are some 27 miles of shoreline and large public parks that should have great views of the show. You could catch a glimpse anywhere in the area, including around Fiesta Island.
Reached by phone, yacht club General Manager Jason Proctor recommended the public areas of Crown Point. On the southern end of the point west of the bridge, there’s a stretch of sand with a public walking and biking path. Spots may be at a premium, but they will provide a perfect view of the barge out on the water.
He also recommended the public areas of Bonita Cove.
Pick a spot on this map from the city of San Diego, then follow the link for further descriptions of each part of the park, plus information about parking and access on the lower righthand side. Public lots are free, but spaces may be limited.
You should be able to see the show at more of a distance from nearby beaches, including the sand at Mission Beach and the southern portion of Pacific Beach.
Keep in mind: The Mission Bay Yacht Club is private and the public cannot access its property to watch the show. Same goes for entering any resort’s property to watch the display.
Watch on the water
It’ll be hard to beat a view from the water on Mission Bay, if you’re lucky enough to take a boat out. Proctor said the fireworks barge will be a couple hundred yards west of the bridge, and there will be perimeter boats circling it at a distance of about 100 yards to keep people from getting too close.
Beyond that, anywhere on Sail Bay or elsewhere on the water is fair game. Make sure to follow all local boating laws, including some that are new this holiday weekend.
Resort guests get front-row seats
Bahia Resort’s iconic sternwheeler is offering a sightseeing cruise during the show that was open for general admission, but it was sold out as of Thursday.
Guests at Paradise Point Resort can reserve viewing areas on-site and San Diego Mission Bay Resort offered a special Fourth of July room package that was booked up as of Thursday. People staying at the Catamaran Resort Hotel, The Dana on Mission Bay and Hyatt Regency will also enjoy views from the properties.
Getting to the show and parking
Parking is free but limited to several lots around Mission Bay Park. Pick a spot on this map and then follow the link for more information on each location — directions and parking info are on the lower righthand side of each page.
If you live relatively close, you might consider taking an Uber or Lyft to skip the hassle of parking.
Reached by email, an MTS spokesperson recommended the following route for reaching the bay, though he noted that you’ll have to plan an alternative method home, as the trolleys and buses won’t be running anymore:
“The best option is to take the Green Line or UC San Diego Blue Line Trolley to the Old Town Transit Center. Then, transfer to (bus) Route 9 for Dana Landing Marina, Ski Beach Park and Mission Bay Park (Ingraham Street).”
Taking the Blue Line to the new route’s Balboa Avenue or Clairemont Drive stations also gets you in the vicinity of Mission Bay Park, though you’ll still need to cross over from the east side of Interstate 5. Depending on which part of the bay you want to watch from, you could walk under the freeway to your spot or grab a rideshare to close the gap.