The fact of the matter, come the Fourth of July, is this: Even if you don't set out to see fireworks, fireworks shall be seen, and heard, and sometimes felt inside the chest, depending on how close they are.
For fireworks use the sky above as their backdrop — spoiler alert — and avoiding the sky come Fourth of July, or any day of the year, can't really be done.
But if you prefer your pyrotechnics in the further distance, or you like them just fine but want to change up your Independence Day in 2015, there are festive and/or fun options for celebrating and staying in the theme without staring up after sundown.
Don your Uncle Sam hat and head for...
Topanga: Strap on your suspenders and dancin' boots because the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum is throwing a rootin'/tootin'/hootin' old-style old-time old-fashioned July 4 Barn Dance. It's an afternoon affair complete with a contest involving the spitting of watermelon seeds, a dunk bucket, pie eating, a raffle, and more activities that were staples of our foreparents' long ago day. Sweet? Sweet.
The Aero Theatre: Three guesses as to what this historic venue is screening on Saturday, July 4. Hints: It is swimming into its 40th anniversary, it is very much associated with Fourth of July in its plot, and "da na da na da na danadanadana" is how people drop hints about it without saying the title. Do you see a big fin in the distance? Okay, it's "Jaws"! (And if you're at The Aero on July 3, you'll be watching "Willie Nelson's 4th of July Celebration.")
Santa Monica High School: If you want to see "Jaws" outdoors, because, yes, much of "Jaws" takes place outdoors, you absolutely can: Eat|See|Hear is screening the Independence Day-esque classic in an alfresco setting. Food trucks and bands will complete the scene. And, yes, you're not far from the beach, so think of that whenever the Most Famous Fin in Cinema (tm) appears.
Angel City Brewery: What will the star-spangled centerpiece be of the Art District brewhouse's 'Merica Fest? Definitely the bands, for sure — look/listen for The Get Down Boys and Pretenemy — and the locally made brews. But a Cornhole Tournament may rock friendly competitors to their core. Even if your team doesn't come in first, that's okay: barbecue and grown-up good times await. And if you really really really need fireworks, the Grand Park sky show isn't too far-off.
Jazz Barbecue: It's often called the great American art form, so Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre on Fairfax Avenue will fete the genre with a screening of the jazzy "The Spoils Before Dying." Live jazz is on the bill, too, and barbecue and beer, so if documentaries and noshing and tunes are more your jam, the historic theatre on Fairfax is your Fourth-festive go-to.