Who says summer is almost over? There’s still plenty of time—and many compelling reasons—for a getaway to California this month. A few annual festivals, including one in Sonoma County that celebrates a rare apple, are making triumphant returns after two years of cancellations. Other events—celebrating surfing, wine, music, and more—provide easy excuses for a weekend getaway, some even geared to dog owners. The late-summer season also offers a wealth of mellow ongoing festivities, including weekly free concerts and downtown wine-tasting strolls. Here are 20-plus events made for a summer escape.
Through Aug. 7: Vans US. Open of Surfing, Huntington Beach
This Huntington Beach event boasts of being the largest action-sports festival in the world. Indeed, it includes not just surfing, but also skateboarding and BMX competitions. This year’s contenders include Kanoa Igarashi, Olympic silver medalist in surfing; Olympic skateboarder Zion Wright; and BMX medalists Dennis Enarson and Dakota Roche. Things get under way July 30 near the Huntington Beach Pier with family-friendly activities including surf clinics, sustainability panels, art installations, and public skate and BMX sessions. Best of all, admission is free.
Aug. 1–6: Eureka Street Art Festival
This little North Coast town is a hotbed for public murals, and this weeklong festival invites you to witness new ones being created. Watch a range of international painters at work each day, take city mural tours, or perhaps try your hand at creating one during a street-painting workshop. On the last day, a party celebrates the new murals’ official debuts. Any time of year, do your own tour of the town’s local murals.
Aug. 1–8: Lazy Bear Week, Guerneville
Summer’s LGBTQ+ pride parties continue at this annual event and fundraiser in Sonoma County. This year’s festivities include pool parties, trivia nights, musical bingo, and mini golf paired with wine tastings. Book online to get your bear tag—a donation receipt that grants you free admission to the activities.
Select nights, starting Aug. 2: FERRO Summer Music Festival, Idyllwild
August is peak music season in the Inland Empire mountain town of Idyllwild. The Italian restaurant FERRO, known for its weekly Jazz Nights, will host a special summer series on most nights from August 2 through Labor Day Weekend. Reserve your spot for dinner, or just come to enjoy cocktails on the patio and acts including the FERRO Jazz Trio, renowned Los Angeles-based saxophonist Kirsten Edkins, and bluegrass-style ensemble Jazzgrass.
Aug. 3–7: International Surf Festival, Manhattan Beach
For more high-season surfing, head to the Los Angeles County town of Manhattan Beach for amateur surfing competitions, body surfing contests, and paddleboard races. Don’t miss the swim races and fitness contests for area lifeguards.
Aug. 3–7: Concord Jazz Festival, Concord
The East Bay town has one serious jazz credential: Dave Brubeck made Concord his home for many years. To honor the late jazz legend, the festival embraces a “Take Five” theme, with five different shows at five venues around town. Hear acts such as guitar virtuoso Jinx Jones at venues including Concord Tap House and the town’s Todos Santos Plaza.
Aug. 3–21: Music in the Vineyards, Napa
Choose from more than two weeks’ worth of chamber-music concerts—Haydn, Copland, Schumann, Dvořák, and more—paired with lush Napa Valley scenery. Some concerts are combined with wine tastings, dinners, and opportunities to mingle with musicians, and many are set at wineries including Domaine Carneros, Charles Krug, and Silverado Vineyards.
Aug. 3–31: Solvang Music in the Park, Solvang
Head to Solvang to attend this Wednesday night music series set in the Solvang Park Gazebo. While the Santa Ynez Valley town has a rich Danish heritage, the musical lineup in August skews toward jazz, funk, and cowboy rock. Bring a picnic blanket and food, wine, or beer from downtown Solvang, where bars and tasting rooms serve closed containers of alcoholic beverages that are allowed in the park.
Select dates, Aug. 3–31: Stranger Things: The Experience, San Francisco
Enjoying Season 4 of the Netflix series? This one-hour immersive experience is happening in three cities around the world, including San Francisco (and will later head to Mexico). Come to the San Francisco Armory for an interactive game that takes you into the Hawkins Lab for a unique storyline, followed by a visit to the Mix Tape zone where you can hang out in recreations of show locations Scoops Ahoy, Family Video, and Palace Arcade. Don’t leave without taking a pic in the Byers’ living room or with a Demogorgon. Runs through Sept. 25.
Aug. 4–6: Tour de Big Bear, Big Bear Lake
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 family-friendly 5K in addition to 25-, 50-, 70-, and 100-mile courses, as well as a 50-mile gravel ride. Get in a warm-up on August 4 during the illuminated Glow Ride around Big Bear Lake Village.
Aug. 4–7: Mammoth Festival of Beers & Bluesapalooza, Mammoth Lakes
This classic music fest blends traditional blues with R&B, soul, and rock, featuring headliners such as Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Taj Mahal Quarter, and Allen Stone. The craft beer lineup, meanwhile, is more than 80 names strong, and all from Golden State breweries, including nearby June Lake Brewing and Mammoth Brewing. While you're there, raise your glass to International Beer Day on August 5.
Aug. 4–8: Old Spanish Fiesta Days, Santa Barbara
This annual festival has been a Santa Barbara tradition since 1925. After a two-year hiatus, this year’s event will bring back the traditional parade, along with other events in the heart of Santa Barbara, including a livestock show, rodeo, and flamenco dancing at the Sunken Gardens. Be sure to peruse the market across from City Hall for Mexican-American cuisine, plus arts and crafts.
Aug. 5–7: Outside Lands Music and Arts Fest, San Francisco
This annual festival in Golden Gate Park mixes live music with a lot of Bay Area food and drink—like the steamed baos of The Chairman, ice cream from Humphry Slocombe, and beverages from the Wine Lands and Beer Lands areas of the festival. This year’s headliners are Green Day, Post Malone, and SZA, and the lineup also includes standouts such as Phoebe Bridgers, Weezer, and Mitski.
Aug. 5–26: Jazz & Blues by the Bay, Sausalito
Gabrielson Park in downtown Sausalito offers sweet views of Angel Island and the Bay Bridge, along with plenty of lawn space for picnics. Come on any Friday this month for concerts that showcase blues, jazz, and funk. Bring your own low-slung chair or a picnic blanket, or reserve a table.
Aug 6: Albariño Wine Stroll, Winters
Wineries around Yolo County make good use of the Albariño grape, traditionally grown in Spain and Portugal. In honor of August 1’s Albariño Grape Day, this event invites wine lovers to stroll downtown Winters with a “passport” ticket for Albariño-fueled wines and inspired cocktails paired with local bites. Stops include the town’s Turkovich Family Wines, Berryessa Gap Vineyards, and Patio 29 Spirits Co.
Aug. 6: World Dog Surfing Championships, Pacifica
While humans vie for surfing awards in Southern California this month, this premier dog surfing event on Pacifica State Beach in San Mateo County has canines competing in surfing as well as fetch-in-water, dog-disc, and beach fashion contests. Come to The San Francisco Peninsula to shop, adopt, or just watch the fun.
Aug. 7–8: Placer Wine Trail Sips & Suds BBQ, Placer County
Sample the wines and ales of Gold Country—paired with barbecue, live music, and games— during this weekend event at the 38-acre inn and estate Gold Hill Gardens. Expand your familiarity with the region’s offerings by picking up this summer’s Placer Wine & Ale Trail Sips & Suds Summer Passport, good through Aug. 31 for tastings at participating wineries and breweries.
Aug. 12–14: San Jose Jazz Summerfest
Enjoy jazz in its many forms at this San Jose festival that focuses on everything from big band to Latin to standards. The lineup features Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Leela James, and Ledisi. As you plan your trip, be sure to check out the festival’s special hotel deals for the weekend.
Aug 12–21: Monterey Car Week, Monterey County
This annual event brings several auto shows, auctions, and memorabilia to Monterey County. The celebration starts on August 12 with a classic-car show in downtown Monterey, and includes events for Porsche enthusiasts, Ferrari lovers, and even fans of so-dubbed “crappy cars,” in an event known as the Concours d’Lemons. The week concludes with the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, with its display of fabulous cars on the 18th fairway of Pebble Beach Golf Links. If you just want to gape at the vehicles, check out the selection of free-admission events.
Aug 12–14, 19–21: Splash House Music Festival, Greater Palm Springs
Live music, DJ acts, and fabulous pool parties are the big draws of this house, disco, and electronica festival that spreads across three Greater Palm Springs resorts—The Saguaro Palm Springs, Renaissance Palm Springs, and Margaritaville Resort—and the Palm Springs Air Museum. Buy a pass to attend festivities on one of the weekends, or book a hotel package that bundles in stays at a host or nearby resort.
Aug. 13: Lemon Festival, Chula Vista
During the late 1800s and early 1900s, the San Diego County town of Chula Vista was one of the most prolific lemon-growing areas in the world. These days, you mostly see lemon trees outside homes, but this annual event brings that citrus magic to downtown’s Third Avenue Village, with lots of lemonade, lemon-themed games, lemon-pie-eating contests and dogs wearing their best lemon-themed outfits.
Aug. 13: Benicia Peddlers Fair, Benicia
Since 1962, the Solano County town of Benicia has hosted this fair of antiques and collectibles vendors from around the nation. Stroll 11 blocks of First Street in the historic downtown to browse period furniture, vintage textiles, blue Depression glass, clocks, and more.
Aug. 13–14: Gravenstein Apple Fair, Sebastopol
After a two-year gap, this quirky little festival returns to the Sonoma County town where Gravenstein apples ripen each summer. There’s live music, kids’ activities, and lots of opportunities to taste your way through the endless spread of apple-inspired treats. Visit various tents for craft cider, wine, and food pairings. Check out the Agrarian Games, too, where you can take apple-juggling lessons or watch the Ugly Produce Beauty Contest.
Aug. 13–14: Surf ’n’ Suds Craft Beer & Music Fest, Ventura
This two-day festival at San Buenaventura State Beach in Ventura County features food trucks, music, and more than 65 craft breweries, wineries, and makers of kombucha and seltzer. The beverage lineup includes a lot of California beermakers, including Eppig Brewing, Santa Maria Brewing Co., and Balcom Canyon Hard Cider.
Aug. 13–14: Brews, Jazz, and Funk Fest, Palisades Tahoe
This popular music-meets-beer weekend features lovely scenery, live music, and beers from more than 15 different breweries, including ones from California such as FiftyFifty Brewing Co., Truckee Brewing Co., and Anderson Valley Brewing Company. Proceeds benefit the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe—and yes, well-behaved dogs are welcome too.
Aug. 13–14: 29th Pistahan Parade & Festival, San Francisco
Celebrate the Bay Area’s rich Filipino heritage during this free, two-day event at Yerba Buena Gardens, located in a part of San Francisco that has long been associated with the Filipino American community. Come for the parade on Saturday at 11 a.m. and spend the rest of the weekend enjoying dancers, food vendors, and local artisans.
Aug. 19: Cabaret Noir at CIA, St. Helena
Enjoy a speakeasy-style evening in the Barrel Room at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, the culinary school set on lush grounds in Napa Valley. The evening’s burlesque show—accompanied by CIA-chef-made bites, plus wines from Chateau Montelena and Spring Mountain Vineyard—will benefit St. Helena’s historic 1913 Cameo Cinema. On other days, tour the Greystone campus and gardens, combined with a meal or wine tasting, or watch chef demos at the CIA at Copia in Downtown Napa.
Aug. 19–20: Cruisin’ Weekend, Atascadero
Even if you don’t own a radical ride you can enjoy cruising culture at this San Luis Obispo County party, which is free for spectators. On Friday night, about 400 cars from the 1950s and 1960s will drive up and down Atascadero’s El Camino Real. (Have a vintage vehicle? Register to join.) On Saturday night, dance to live music in the streets outside City Hall and get dinner from the food trucks.
Aug. 22: Visalia Craft Beer Festival, Visalia
Taste craft beer from the Central Valley and beyond while listening to live music and soaking up Visalia’s downtown charm. Admission grant you tastes of beer along with your own special tasting glass. Participating breweries includeFirestone Walker Brewing Co. and Lagunitas Brewing Co. as well as the Central Valley’s Kern River Brewing, Dust Bowl Brewing, and Full Circle Brewing Co.
Aug. 22–25: Butte County Fair, Gridley
Come to this long-running country fair in Butte County for livestock exhibits, carnival rides, crafts, and plenty of decadent fair cuisine. Check out classic fair competitions for foods such as sourdough breads throughout the four-day event.
Aug. 26: Cakebread Cellars Summer FriYAY, Rutherford
Play lawn games, listen to live music, and enjoy summer wine and food pairings on the lawn at this winery in the heart of Napa Valley. This is the last installment of Cakebread’s summer happy hour series, but year-round you can experience seated tastings, walks, and even kid-friendly tours of the winery.
Aug. 26–28: Sonoma Valley Authors Festival, Sonoma
The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa makes a plush setting for this literary weekend with readings and talks by authors including Dave Barry, Amor Towles, and Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Tracy K. Smith. Prep ahead of time by checking out the festival’s recommended reading list. Attendees can also get a special rate to stay at the Sonoma resort.