Exercise your right to celebrate with the Westside’s top July 4 activities

By Christina Campodonico

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — these unalienable rights enshrined in our Declaration of Independence merit recognition and celebration. Local festivities kick off Wednesday night and stretch into the weekend, providing ample opportunities to exercise free expression of fun. The choice — and the freedom to do so — is yours.

Marina Fireworks + Red, White & BBQ Block Party

Watching fireworks shoot over the water makes Independence Day feel magical. Fortunately, you can spot the annual Marina del Rey Fourth of July Fireworks Show, which launches from a barge off the marina’s south jetty at 9 p.m. sharp, from just about anywhere in or around the harbor with a clear line of sight. Popular viewing areas include Burton Chace Park (13650 Mindanao Way) and Fisherman’s Village (13755 Fiji Way), where you can hear music synchronized to the 20-minute pyrotechnic display.

But what’s cooler than watching fireworks while floating in a pool? Beat the crowds and work on your tan at Marina del Rey Hotel’s Red, White & BBQ Block Party. Starting at 11 a.m., you can dip your toes into the luxury hotel’s harbor-adjacent pool, order pours from the event’s beer garden and play games on the lawn. Deejays spin sets from 1 to 9 p.m., when you’ll basically have a front-row seat to the fireworks show.

If you’re looking for dinner and a show, a number of other marina restaurants offer enticing waterside views and specials. Indulge in crispy Jidori chicken or braised beef short rib at Café del Rey, offering a three-course prix fix dinner from 7 p.m. to showtime ($95 per adult; $20 per child under 12). Cozy on up to a firepit table at The Ritz Carlton’s Cast & Plow ($100 per table; $50 for patio seating), also offering an all-American Ice Cream and Sorbet Bar with an Americana-inspired dinner ($88 per adult; $36 per kid under 12). Or stack up on BBQ fare at Beachside ($55 to $60 for a split-able platter for two), Whiskey Red’s “Red, White and Boom” buffet-laden party, or local favorite Tony P’s Dockside Grill (reservations recommended).

Alternatively, you could also see the fireworks on the water by chartering a boat or hopping aboard one of Hornblower’s special Fourth of July observation cruises setting sail at 7:15., 7:30 and 8 p.m. Cruises feature light bites and complimentary champagne, and are timed to give you an up-close view of the fireworks. (Cruises are $78 per person; visit hornblower.com for reservations ASAP).

For an experience a bit off the beaten path, head to Dockweiler Beach in Playa del Rey or the Venice Pier.

Wherever you plan to be, it’s a good idea to consider alternative transportation — the water bus, the marina’s free ride shuttle, rideshare, public transit, bikes, scooters — and arrive early to snag a good viewing spot.


Westchester Fourth of July Parade

See a Norman Rockwell painting come to life during this treasured Westchester tradition. The annual LAX Coastal Chamber of Commerce-sponsored celebration marks its 20th anniversary with the timely theme “America, Better Together!” Watch this spectacle of neighborhood pride as dozens of marching bands, floats, horse teams, fire trucks and community VIPs step make their way from Westchester Park to LMU along Loyola Boulevard. The parade steps off at 11 a.m.


Santa Monica Fourth of July Parade

Celebrate Lady Liberty and the women making a difference in our communities at the 13th annual Santa Monica Fourth of July Parade. This year’s parade is themed “The Year of the Woman.” Watch as the roving red, white and blue celebration of the U.S.A. — and the women who make it great — step off at 9:30 a.m. from Pico Boulevard and Main Street, making their way to the beach at Marine Street and Barnard Way. The official grandstand is located at Ocean Park Boulevard and Main Street.


El Segundo Fourth of July Celebration

Celebrate the Fourth of July from morning to night at El Segundo’s Recreation Park (401 Sheldon St), which hosts a family-friendly community day on Stevenson Field from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., then jams and fireworks at night. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., check out community booths offering games or food and maybe even get in on a three-legged race or watermelon-eating contest. The Main Street Band starts playing hits at 5 p.m., followed by fireworks over the field at 9 p.m. But reserve your wristbands ASAP! They’re available through July 3.


KCRW Night Market

Santa Monica’s independent radio station is teaming up with The Bungalow Santa Monica (101 Wilshire Blvd.) to host a culinary pop-up from 5 to 11 p.m. featuring music by DJ Jeremy Sole, food trucks, cocktails, a kids area, free face painting and fireworks. Entrance is free. Food vendors include Man Eating Plant, Tacos 1986, Cal Mare and Wolf Burgers.


Mr. & Mrs. Muscle Beach Competition

Some of the world’s most sculpted men and women compete in this bodybuilder showcase near the world-famous Muscle Beach (1800 Ocean Front Walk, Venice). Champion bodybuilder-turned-stuntman Manny Perry (who was Lou Ferrigno’s stunt double for “The Incredible Hulk”) will also be inducted into The Muscle Beach Hall of Fame. Prejudging starts at 10 a.m., followed by the finals at 1 p.m.


Swing by the Shore in Santa Monica

Show your American pride and swing dance by the sea. From 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Independence Day, Swing by the Shore gathers in Tongva Park (1615 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica) for a Pacific-adjacent dance party. Bring a dance partner (or two) and your handy dandy Mp3, so the deejay can play some of your favorite tunes.


Will Rogers 5k & 10k July Fourth Run

Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica hosts a family-friendly run, including a half-mile course for kids, to benefit local youth programs. Same day registration opens at 6:30 a.m.; the race starts at 8:15 a.m. sharp ($60); and the kids race starts at 9:30 a.m. ($25) at the Palisades Recreation Center.


Culver City Democratic Club Independence Day Picnic

Americans of the Democratic persuasion can raise a reusable fork or cup to patriotism at a July 4 picnic from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in Blanco Park (5687 Sawtelle Blvd., Culver City). As part of the club’s green pledge, bring reusable cups, plates and dining utensils and, your own food to put on the barbecue, and a side dish to share. The Culver City Democratic Club provides the watermelon, ice, cold drinks and charcoal.


Red White & Booze

Celebrate the Fourth of July on a rooftop in Venice! Hotel Erwin’s Rooftop Lounge (1697 Pacific Ave., Venice) hosts an “elevated” cocktail party with a local DJ spinning beats throughout the night. (Reservations encouraged; cover starts at $35).


James’ Beach BBQ

Locals’ hang James’ Beach (60 N. Venice Blvd.) will also be celebrating America’s birthday with BBQ, $8 watermelon margaritas, and $6 drafts on its outdoor patio from July 4 to July 7.


Élephante Beach Independence Day Party

After the pyrotechnics, let the real fireworks begin. Ultra-chic Élephante Beach House (1332 2nd St., Santa Monica) is throwing an exclusive ($100 per person) July 4 dance party from 10 p.m. on July 4 all the way to 2 a.m. close, featuring beats by DJ Yolanda Be Cool on the rooftop.


InDEEPenDANCE Party (July 3)

Just because Fourth of July falls on a weekday doesn’t mean you can’t party like it’s a weekend. Why not get the holiday started early? On July 3, boogie into Independence Day at The Townhouse & Del Monte Speakeasy from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. with deejays Marques Wyatt, Miguel Migs, Joplin and Pepper for an electric “InDEEPendDANCE” party, celebrating our nation’s birth with some sick beats. Tickets start at $30.


Red, White and Swing at Rusty’s Rhythm Club (July 5)

Keep the Independence Day party going with Rusty’s Rhythm Club at the Westchester Elks Lodge (8025 Manchester Ave., Playa del Rey) on Friday, July 5. Seven-piece jive band The Moontones and DJ Robert Vangor provide the live music for this Fourth of July-themed boogie session, kicking off with swing dance lessons at 7:30 and 8 p.m. before an open dance from 8:30 p.m. to midnight. Cover is $20; there’ll also be an ice cream vendor and a photo booth.