Celebrate the 4th of July With Friends You've Never Met


By Marguerite Richards 

We gather together, sometimes rushing to make it in time for sunset. In that moment we’re united, regardless of ethic make up, financial or social standing, under a spectacular light show in the sky. Don’t worry: I’m not going to start singing the National Athem on you. But it’s true that, despite our shortcomings, I’m always proud on the 4th of July. There is reason to celebrate.

Independence Day is the perfect time for you and your hostel pals to tap into how Americans celebrate our country. This year, the holiday falls on a Saturday, and you know what that means: Party time!  

In San Francisco, we rejoice by watch fireworks while rubbing shoulders with excited locals of all walks of life. Just like bubble gum or waterslides, fireworks bring out the childlike wonder in all of us. And together, we can’t help but get giddy. Maybe it’s that pip-popping, glittering show. Perhaps it’s the slow beginning that escalates to the grand finale, each explosion more spectacular than the last. But most of all, what makes the Fourth so special is that feeling of camaraderie that comes from taking it all in with friends old and new, strangers and neighbors, locals and visitors.

Fort Mason San FranciscoThis year, HI USA is helping travelers from around the world get immersed in the magic of the holiday right here in San Francisco. In celebration of America’s birthday, we’re hosting an extended all-American weekend in SF with four days of food, music, games, baseball, and much more.

  •   -- Friday, July 3:HI SF City CenterHI SF Downtown, and HI SF Fisherman's Wharf will each hold "Red, White, and Beer" celebrations showcasing local foods and brews for guests on site.
  • -- Saturday, July 4: Guests from all three of HI USA's SF hostels are invited for a day of partying, American-style, at HI SF Fisherman's Wharf. Meet your fellow travelers over a day of free barbecue, music, giveaways, and outdoor games in historic Fort Mason Park. After the party winds down at 5:00 p.m., stick around for fireworks on the water, or read on below for the best places to round up a few friends and watch the spectacle on your own!

      -- Sunday, July 5: Lay low after the 4th of July blowout with an evening of star-spangled movies and free pizza at all three HI SF hostels.

      -- Monday, July 6: We’re taking dozens of lucky travelers out to AT&T Park to see the World Champion San Francisco Giants in action! Tell us why you love baseball using hashtag #HiGiants on Facebook, and you could win tickets to join us as we root for the home team against the New York Mets. We’ll be announcing the winners at Saturday's barbecue, so make sure you come decked out in your Giants orange and black!

And the celebration doesn't stop there! After the barbecue at HI SF Fisherman's Wharf, check out some of the best spots to get out into the city, with free, fun cover bands ramping up the party before the light show. The fireworks will start at approximately 9:30 p.m., and are launched from barges just north of Pier 39. 

Where to Watch 

Fort Mason SF waterfrontAfter a day of partying in the sun, you don’t have to go far to get one of the best views in town: HI Fisherman’s Wharf is clearly the best place to be bunking for nighttime Fourth of July festivities, as the hostel sits right on the city’s waterfront. Best of all, you’ll have a whole coterie of fellow travelers and hostel staff to watch with! 

Right next door, at San Francisco's Aquatic Park, starting at 6:00 p.m., watch a Huey Lewis and The News cover band; then at 7:45 p.m., 1980s dance cover band Notorious will take the stage. It all leads up to the fireworks at 9:30 – this is another fantastic spot for clear views of the sky.

A walk just under 30 minutes along Beach Street will take you from HI SF Fisherman's Wharf to Pier 39 where, starting at noon, awesome kid rock band WJM will play at the Entrance Plaza Stage. Wildly popular '80s cover band Tainted Love will take over in the same location at 5:00 p.m. 

Ghirardelli Square, within easy walking distance of HI SF Fisherman's Wharf, is also a prime viewing spot. Last year’s events included live jazz music and face painting. Check back on their website for details closer to party day.

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If You Go 

Stay at one of our three San Francisco hostels