Fireworks are back on the LA waterfront! After a several-year hiatus, the long-standing pyrotechnic show at Marina Del Rey is back on. It starts at 9 p.m. and lasts about 20 minutes. The exploding sparklers are launched from a barge in the marina and the best places to see them are Fisherman's Village, Burton Chance Park and Mother's Beach, all on the edge of the marina. Get there early to get a good spot to watch and we'd recommend taking public transportation: even on a normal summer day, parking can be hard to find. Or get a room with a view at a Marina Del Rey hotel and watch from your balcony. For that, we recommend the Jamaica Bay Inn.
If you're looking for a great place to watch San Francisco's twin displays, this is new for 2012: You can watch from Angel Island, in the middle of the Bay. Normally, ferry traffic to the island stops in the late afternoon, but this year they're keeping it open late on July 4. The south side of the island has a terrific view of several San Francisco area fireworks shows and it promises to be a fun place to watch from. The Cove Café near the ferry dock will be open for dinner, with live music and shuttle buses will run to and from the viewing area. Take warm jackets and a blanket or extra layers, a flashlight and easily transported folding chairs. Most of the firework displays will go off between 9:30 and 10 p.m. Get all the details (including how to get ferry tickets) here.