July 3, 2012 12:16 PM   Subscribe

What's the closest place to San Francisco where I can legally buy fireworks? Where can I legally set them off?

I'm talking about REAL fireworks here, roman candles and other fiery colorful explodey things. Lame stuff like sparklers, bottlerockets, and firecrackers don't count.

Ideally, I'd like to set them off someplace fun where we can hang out and have a picnic, but I'd settle for a parking lot where we won't run afoul of any laws.

I'm willing to drive a few hours if necessary, but the closer to SF the better.
posted by Afroblanco to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (21 answers total)
I know when I drive about two hours north of SF, I see roadside stands with roman candles and who knows what else (up by Cache Creek).
posted by zippy at 12:24 PM on July 3, 2012

Anything that explodes, moves uncontrollably, or leaves the ground is illegal in California. You could try Nevada or a reservation to buy them, but I don't know where you could legally set them off.
posted by elsietheeel at 12:24 PM on July 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

this is from last year, but I wonder if it's still the case in 2012. (Dublin, Newark and Union City.)
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 12:24 PM on July 3, 2012

Response by poster: To all :

I mentioned that I'm willing to drive a few hours, so I don't mind leaving California to buy or set off the fireworks.

Also, I do need to know of specific places where I can buy them. If I'm gonna drive a few hours away, I need a destination. "You see the stores all along Highway X" won't help.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:29 PM on July 3, 2012

Oregon is one of the vast majority of states with "only sparkly/smoky non-flying stuff" laws, so that's ruled out. This leaves you the option of Nevada (I don't know the details, but Nevada fireworks laws are county-by-county, so that's a starting point for research) and the reservations (which is going to be illegal the moment you leave the res).
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 12:37 PM on July 3, 2012

Best answer: On further investigation: It looks like Pahrump Nevada is your closest legal option, clocking in at over 9 hours from San Francisco. Figuring out where to use them before leaving the county is the next step.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 12:47 PM on July 3, 2012

I'm going to keep trying to post until I'm deemed relevant. Here is a link to a map showing the types of fireworks that are allowed in different states in the US.

Pyro Universe.

According to the Map, the closest states will be Washington or New Mexico.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:49 PM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Vancouver, Washington (about a 11 hour drive)
posted by vespabelle at 1:05 PM on July 3, 2012

I grew up around here, and the story for getting "real" fireworks has always required driving to Utah or Wyoming.
posted by rhizome at 1:11 PM on July 3, 2012

What about heading to Mexico? Tijuna is probably closer than Washington State.
posted by prentiz at 1:29 PM on July 3, 2012

Best answer: If you want real fireworks, the closest place is Schurz, NV. It's 4 hours closer to SF than Pahrumph. You can buy them year around there as it is tribally owned. If you want to make the drive beautiful, I recommend a going by way of Merkleeville and Yerington.
posted by Duffington at 1:35 PM on July 3, 2012 [4 favorites]

You could drive just past Blythe to Quartzite AZ. Fireworks are sold in Wal-Mart, the supermarkets and in parking lots all over the state. According to Google Maps, that trip clocks in at just under 10 hours.
posted by lemonwheel at 2:17 PM on July 3, 2012

Nevermind, the fireworks sold in Arizona have to be of the "safe and sane" variety, and can't leave the ground, "specifically exclude such items as bottle rockets, skyrockets, missile-type rockets, helicopters, torpedoes, roman candles, firecrackers, aerial shells and mortars."
posted by lemonwheel at 2:23 PM on July 3, 2012

What about heading to Mexico? Tijuna is probably closer than Washington State.

Bringing them back across the border is not an easy thing.
posted by LionIndex at 2:27 PM on July 3, 2012

Best answer: Actually it looks like I was wrong about Nevada. Seems like fireworks are illegal there (and for good reason). However, Pyramid Lake, just outside of Reno, NV, has two places where you can legally buy fireworks, obtain a free permit to use them, and several beaches where you can set them off. It's about four and a half hours from the city, mostly a straight shot up I-80.
posted by elsietheeel at 3:17 PM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

If there are anti-fireworks laws in Oakland, they are enforced quite inconsistently.
posted by slidell at 10:21 PM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Read the comments about buying and transporting fireworks in and from Pahrump
posted by buggzzee23 at 10:50 PM on July 3, 2012

Response by poster: Well, a 4 hour drive and noplace local to shoot them off is not exactly what I wanted to hear, but oh well. I guess that's the price we pay for good weather and a thriving tech sector :)

Seriously though, consumer fireworks -- along with float trips and thunderstorms -- are one of the few things I miss about my hometown of St. Louis. We never ran into problems with accidentally setting things on fire -- all our fire was of the purposeful variety! But then again I suppose MO is a lush, green, humid place, and there's not as much danger of wildfires and such.

Anyway, I think I'll just wait till next year and do more advance planning. Maybe I'll do something crazy and go to Fourth of Juplaya or something. Can't imagine they'd have a problem with fireworks...
posted by Afroblanco at 12:23 PM on July 4, 2012

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