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The month of March is whatever you want it to be in California. If you haven’t enjoyed enough winter snow, there’s still plenty of skiing, snowboarding, competitions, and festivals to be found in the mountains. The deserts, meanwhile, are enjoying both spring wildflowers and an elite tennis tournament. Along the coastline, it’s prime time to see whales on their annual commutes (in one beach town, it’s also mermaid season). And not far from the ocean, food and wine festivals are perennially in bloom. Here 23 ways to welcome your version of spring in California.

Feb. 28–March 8: Tahoe City Snowfest

This “Mountain Mardi Gras” was launched in the early 1980s to prove how good the snow around here can be in March. See for yourself on the nearby slopes, and make time for the Snow Queen parade, the pet costume contest, and the many events going on in the area’s festive bars and restaurants.

 

All month: Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival, Anaheim

The California-themed park within Disneyland Resort goes full foodie this month. Check out the culinary demonstrations, junior-chef cooking experiences, and lots of California-grown ingredients at crowd-pleasing kiosks such as Avocado Time, Cluck-A-Doodle-Moo, and Nuts About Cheese. Check dates for the wine, beer and mixology seminars. Runs through April 21.

 

All month: Mermaid Month, Ventura

March is an especially good time of year to bring kids to this laid-back beach town. Its Ventura Harbor Village will host regular mermaid meet-and-greets, a big parade on March 21, and fun promotions at shops all month-long.

 

March 1: AutoClub 400, Fontana

This boisterous NASCAR Sprint Cup Series weekend is the only NASCAR race in Southern California. The action kicks off Friday, Feb. 28  with the drivers’ practice dat; the weekend also includes live music, great food, and stunt shows. Superfans know this will be Jimmie Johnson's final SoCal NASCAR race.

 

March 1: The Great Ski Race—Tahoe City to Truckee

Now in its 43rd year, this Lake Tahoe area tradition brings both competitive and amateur skiers for a 30k Nordic trek. Participants can stop to refuel at two hot soup stations along the way, then enjoy a big lunch with live music at Hilltop Lodge outside of Truckee’s Cottonwood Restaurant.

 

March 6–15: Annual Barrel Tasting, Healdsburg

This annual double weekend event along Wine Road offers the chance to sample the best wines of Alexander, Dry Creek, and Russian River Valleys straight from the barrel, and chat with winemakers.

 

March 7–21: Mendocino Whale Festivals, Mendocino County

It’s high season for whale watching along the North Coast. The lineup of whale weekends begins on March 7 with the Mendocino Whale Festival, followed by Little River Whale Festival (March 14) and the Fort Bragg Whale Festival (March 21). All three events have their own combinations of whale-watching tours and hikes, along with sea kayaking events, talks, and lots of chowder, paired with local wine and beer.

March 7–15: Dana Point Festival of Whales

The quiet waters off the coast of the Orange County town of Dana Point attract the big mammals year round. But this time of year, there are enough migrating grey whales in the distance to merit two full weekends of fun, including a parade, stand-up-paddle clinics, talks about whales, and a chowder cook-off.

 

March 9–22: BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells

This top-tier tennis tournament at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, about 15 miles from Palm Springs, gets you rivetingly close to the world’s best players as they duke it out under the desert sun. This year’s players include Serena and Venus Williams, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic.

 

March 13: ArtNight, Pasadena

For one evening, Pasadena’s solid inventory of art museums and performance spaces—including the Norton Simon Museum, KidSpace Children’s Museum, and the art-and-crafts masterpiece Gamble House—open up their doors for free. The biannual art celebration includes shuttle buses and an also-impressive selection of food trucks, like local favorites Pie ’n Burger and Dinas Dumpling.

 

March 13–15: 75th Santa Barbara International Orchid Festival, Santa Barbara

Horticulture meets art at this acclaimed flower show in Santa Barbara County. Stroll through the garden-sized exhibits of flowers and make your own picks for which orchid will win the Grand Champion Cymbidium. Or, check out the special Orchids After Dark, which features music and small bites, and is prime time for flower shutterbugs.

 

March 13–22: PaleyFest, Hollywood

Now that movie high season is over, it’s time to get back to some serious TV watching. This weeklong event at the Dolby Theatre, sponsored by the Paley Center for Media, is the perfect gathering for TV nerds: screenings of new shows and meet-and-greets with big stars. This year’s lineup includes the casts of Modern Family, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and The Mandalorian, among others.

 

March 14: Temecula Vegan Festival

Here’s more proof that a plant-based lifestyle can be happily indulgent—this festival of food and entertainment also includes plenty of local Temecula Valley wine. Can’t make this weekend? There’s another round on March 28 in nearby Rancho Cucamonga.

March 15–17: Santa Barbara Culinary Experience, Solvang

This two-night celebration of Central Coast food and wine takes place at a perfect example of the region’s charm: The Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort, a plush version of a dude ranch in the Santa Ynez Valley. Get tickets to individual events, like a spice-blending session; a wine-tasting lunch with cooking demo; and the Santa Barbara County Chefs Potluck, featuring celebrity chef Ludo Lefebvre. Or, make your participation a full weekend affair, and book a package including all meals and two nights’ accommodation in one of the resort’s Western-style suites with a wood-burning fireplace.

 

March 19: Return of the Swallows Celebration, San Juan Capistrano

Legend has long had it that flocks of birds come back to nest on this day each year at this Spanish mission in Orange County. While you indeed have a good chance of seeing some swallows this time of year, you can definitely count on the party to welcome any birds, which includes mariachis, flamenco dancing, and a re-telling of the legend around the swallows.

 

March 19–22: U.S. Freestyle Moguls Championships, Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows

The top freestyle moguls skiers in the nation will compete for the U.S. title this weekend on the renowned Red Dog ski run, which has hosted high-stakes competitions going back to the 1960 Olympic Winter Games. Look for U.S. Ski Team members Jaelin Kauf and Jesse Andringa to defend their titles.

March 19–22: Yountville Live, Napa Valley

Enjoy Wine County cuisine against a backdrop of mellow singer-songwriters at this annual festival in Napa Valley. This year’s headliners include musical acts Jessie James Decker, Everette, and Noah Guthrie, and chefs such as Anita Cartagena of Protéa and Chris Kollar of Kollar Chocolates.

 

Begins March 20: Knott’s Boysenberry Festival, Knott’s Berry Farm

Celebrate the origins of this Buena Park theme park: the hybrid berry that tastes great in pies and jam, but also gives zing to savory dishes like salsa, barbecue, and more. Your admission to the festival gives you samples at tasting stations scattered amidst the park's rides and shows. Runs through April 19.

March 20–28: El Paseo Fashion Week, Palm Desert

It’s the biggest annual fashion show on the West Coast, with a week-plus of trunk shows, cocktail receptions, and fashion-star-sightings, all in tents along Palm Springs area’s luxury magnet The Gardens on El Paseo.

 

March 21–22: 12th Annual Barrel Tasting Weekend, Livermore

You can easily fill the weekend trying local wines (and beer) along the Painted Barrel Trail, located between San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Each day starts with brunches, and your ticket gets you access to more than 30 wineries offering tastings of young wines still in development.

 

Starts March 21: Butterfly Jungle, Escondido

Behold more than 10,000 butterflies inside a tropical greenhouse during this roughly three-week-long event at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, the rambling sister property of the famed San Diego Zoo. Take one of the Butterflies and Friends Behind-the-Scenes tours, or enjoy one of the butterfly-themed meals. Runs through May 10.

 

March 27–29: California Artisan Cheese Festival, Santa Rosa

This Sonoma County city has a long heritage of dairy cows and creameries, so it’s an excellent locale for tasting world-class cheeses, like the blue cheese from Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company or the Red Hawk from Cowgirl Creamery. The weekend includes guided tours of local farms and cheese-making facilities; lectures on cheese-and-wine (or beer and cider), cooking demos, and lots of chances to nibble at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds.

 

March 27–29: 6th Annual Winter Wondergrass Tahoe, Squaw Valley

It’s hard to argue with this fabulous take on après-ski: three days of bluegrass/acoustic roots music on four stages, and a collection of area craft breweries offering tastings. This year's musical headliners are The Devil Makes Three, The Infamous Stringdusters, and Billy Strings X2.