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Watching the Fireworks in Marin

Fireworks at the Marin County Fair

Fireworks at the Marin County Fair. Photo: Marin County Fair

For families with young children, the ritual of watching 4th of July fireworks can be a little inconvenient. Babies and toddlers are often scared of the noise (if you're close enough to hear), the summer sunset at around 9 pm means most kids are up way past their bedtime. It's even worse if you decide to wake them out of a deep sleep in time to see the fireworks (trust me, I've been there). Nothing's quite as crabby and grumpy as an over-tired child, no matter how great the fireworks are.

With this in mind, we've looked for places to watch the fantastic fireworks display at the Marin County Fair that don't involve leaving the car if you don't have to, so the little ones can doze in peace. Unless you're actually attending the fair, driving over near Civic Center is a bad idea. It's hard to see anything from along Civic Center Drive, and the post-fireworks gridlock around the fairgrounds can be pretty miserable. Just don't do it (we know this from experience).

In our opinion, the best place to see the fair fireworks is at  McInnis Park, just north of the fairgrounds in San Rafael off Smith Ranch Road. McInnis Park has a clean line of sight across the marsh area to the fairgrounds, and there are several areas where you can park your car and watch the fireworks.

On Wednesday, July 3, Marin County Parks holds it's annual Fair Fireworks and S’more Feast event, where families can make s'mores before heading up the hill at the park to watch the fireworks. This event is a lot of fun and is something we attend every year. The event itself starts at 8 pm and the fireworks begin at 9:30 pm.

Families in southern Marin might want to make the effort to see San Francisco's fireworks display, which is usually guaranteed to be spectacular, except when it's foggy, which it often is in July. We've watched fireworks from Fort Baker near the Bay Area Discovery Museum, which afforded a pretty good view, but was also pretty crowded. Of course the absolute best viewing spot is from a boat on San Francisco Bay, but that's cold, and of course requires a boat. If you don't have one, the Angel Island Ferry provides a fireworks cruise on the Bay that departs Tiburon at 8:30 pm ($75 adults, $55 children 5–12, and free for kids under 5), and this year, once again, Angel Island itself will be open for fireworks viewing.

2020 Marin Summer Camp Guide