If you haven’t gotten in a summer getaway yet—or you’re ready for another one—here’s some good news: You have more than a month left and plenty of options. Since the state’s official reopening earlier this summer, most California attractions have been welcoming visitors again, and an increasing number of festivals are returning after hitting pause for 2020. Some festivals still offer some online events, while others have their own safety protocols for in-person festivities. Here are 16 events you can plan a trip around in California.
Early August: Cable cars begin modified service, San Francisco
The San Francisco icons will start rolling again this month, as part of a test phase before regular service resumes in September. Passengers can ride for free along the Powell-Hyde, Powell-Mason, and California lines, but there’s no set schedule just yet. Get in the loop by registering for email updates and text alerts.
Aug. 4–8: Concord Jazz Festival
The East Bay town has one serious jazz credential: Dave Brubeck made Concord his home for years. To honor the late jazz legend’s centennial, this year’s festival has a Take Five theme featuring five consecutive days of memorable music. Acts include guitar virtuoso Jinx Jones and venues include Concord Tap House—a great place to sample the area’s craft beer scene.
Aug. 4–22: Music in the Vineyards, Napa
Choose from more than two weeks’ worth of chamber-music concerts—Vivaldi, Schumann, Dvořák, etc.—paired with lush Napa Valley scenery. Some concerts are combined with wine tastings, dinners, and opportunities to mingle with musicians. This year’s festival also includes some online events. Admission for in-person events requires proof of a fully completed COVID-19 vaccine at least two weeks prior to the concert date.
Starting August 5: The Oasis Pop-up, Los Angeles
The rooftop scene in downtown L.A. has a fun new addition this summer: The pool deck at the JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. LIVE will host a pop-up lounge decked out with Casablanca-style cabanas and Instagram-ready backdrops. A $90 package for two includes a pitcher of sangria and a mezze platter of small bites; special drinks include the Mediterranean Gin Spritz (tea-infused gin, grapefruit, sparkling wine, rosemary) and Summer in LA (Altos Plato tequila, elderflower tonic, cucumber, jalapeno, Tajin rim). The event runs every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday through Sept. 4. The hotel is a short walk to both the Staples Center and the Grammy Museum.
Aug. 5–8: Mammoth Festival of Beers & Bluesapalooza, Mammoth Lakes
This classic music fest blends traditional blues with R&B, soul, and rock, and headliners include Robert Cray, Larkin Poe, and The Record Company. The craft beer lineup, meanwhile, is 79 names strong, with a big emphasis on Golden State breweries including nearby June Lake Brewing and Mammoth Brewing, as well as Long Beach–based Ten Mile Brewing Co.
Aug. 5–8: Tour de Big Bear
This fun cycling event returns to Big Bear Lake in Southern California’s San Bernardino Mountains, a magnificent area for both mountain biking and road cycling. Choose from a wide range of distances and challenge levels: there’s a 5K in addition to 25-, 50-, 70-, and 100-mile courses. Steady yourselves: This year’s event also includes a 50-mile Gravel Ride.
Aug 6–15: Monterey Car Week
This annual event brings all sorts of auto shows, auctions, and memorabilia to Monterey County. The celebration starts on August 6 with a classic car show in downtown Monterey, and includes events for Porsche enthusiasts, Ferrari lovers, and even fans of “crappy cars.” The week concludes with the 70th Annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in Pebble Beach, a competition among car collectors that goes back more than half a century. If you just want to take a peek at the cars, check out the selection of free-admission events.
Aug. 7–8: Placer Wine Trail Grape Days of Summer, Placer County
This open-house weekend along the Gold Country’s Placer Wine Trail includes tastings, food pairings, tours, and presentations covering topics such as winemaking, blending, and barrel aging. Participating wineries include Cante Ao Vinho, Lone Buffalo, and Rancho Roble.
Aug. 13–15: San Jose Jazz Summerfest
This San Jose festival focuses on jazz in its many forms, from big band to Latin, blues, and standards. The lineup features Common, Judith Hill, and the Pete Escovedo Latin Jazz Orchestra, as well as Morris Day & the Time. Buy your tickets ahead of time then check out the festival’s special hotel deals for the weekend.
Aug. 14: Gravenstein Apple Fair Benefit Concert, Sebastopol
Instead of the usual annual fair celebrating Sonoma County’s beloved local apple, this August brings a fundraising concert to help fuel a full return next year. Hear bands such as T Sisters and the Whiskey Family Band and sample apples and other delights from food vendors such as Black Piglet, Sonoma County Farm Trails, and Dutton Ranch.
Aug. 14–15: Brews, Jazz and Funk Fest, Squaw Valley
This popular music-meets-beer weekend features lovely scenery, a lot of live music, and beers from more than 15 different breweries, including ones based in California such as FiftyFifty Brewing Co., Truckee Brewing Co., and Anderson Valley Brewing Co. Since proceeds benefit the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe, well-behaved dogs are welcome too. This year, advance ticket purchase is required, and attendance numbers will be capped.
While you’re in the area, live music has returned to the Village at Squaw Valley on Tuesdays and Saturdays through the end of August, thanks to the Bluesdays Series and the Sunsets Live Music Series.
Aug. 15–20: Graffiti Summer, Modesto
The Central Valley town of Modesto has maintained a longtime love affair with car culture: Modesto native George Lucas wrote about growing up here for American Graffiti. This year’s event (usually held in June) kicks off with a showing of the iconic movie, as well as a classic car show at McHenry Village. The rest of the week includes “Park-n-Shine” events all over town, and a big parade of 1,000-plus cars through downtown Modesto. The next weekend brings more car fun at the Furiously Fast Weekend, including screenings of the Fast and the Furious movies and more pop-up car events.
Aug. 18–19: MUSE/IQUE, San Marino
Grab dinner at one of the cafes at the idyllic Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens, then watch the latest version of this cinema-meets-live-music summer series. This year’s theme is “Dylan Goes Hollywood,” featuring the music of Bob Dylan and his connection to both Los Angeles and movies. A third performance on Aug. 22 will take place not far away, at the Skirball Cultural Center.
Aug. 20–21: Motherlode Beer & Music Festival, Placerville
This weekend event at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds celebrates Gold Country breweries, wineries, meaderies, and cideries, with some historic twists. Saturday’s Mountain Brewery Exhibit will showcase local beers that are similar to those enjoyed in the late 1800s. The weekend also includes strolling historic characters, axe-throwing, and music from local bands such as The Gold Souls and Fan Halen.
Aug. 20–21: Cruisin’ Weekend, Atascadero
Even if you don’t have a vintage car yourself, you can enjoy cruising at this San Luis Obispo County party, which is free for spectators. On Friday night, about 400 cars from the 1950s and 1960s will cruise up and down Atascadero’s El Camino Real. (Have such a car yourself? You can register to join the drive.) On Saturday night, dance in the street outside City Hall and get dinner from the food trucks while live bands play.
Aug. 26–29: Butte County Fair, Gridley
Come to this 75-year-old country fair in the Butte County town which features livestock exhibits, carnival rides, crafts, and plenty of indulgent fair cuisine. Check out the winners of classic California fair competitions, such as sourdough breads.