The peak of summer has arrived in California, buoyed by July 4th celebrations up and down the state. Beyond Independence Day, July brings plenty of classic fairs and long-running festivals celebrating salsa, art, and cosplay—the latter thanks to the return of Comic-Con in San Diego. It’s also a great time for music festivals, whether you prefer country, EDM, or classical. Here are 20-plus ways to build a summer getaway around a ready-made party.
All month: Pick Your Own Bouquet at Park Winters, Winters
Be sure to stop at the Farm at Park Winters if you’re in Yolo County this time of year. The pick-your-own-flower scene is in full swing at the estate, which also features a historic inn and dining. Explore the fields—teeming with sunflowers, dahlias, snap dragons, blooming artichokes, and more—and create your own bouquet for $35. Runs on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings through November.
Through July 24: Revive, Los Angeles
Enjoy a dinner theater experience at Vibiana, the former cathedral turned dining space in downtown Los Angeles. The limited-run show showcases circus-style acrobats, aerialists, dancers, and musicians from the San Francisco-based company Vau de Vire, while the three-course dinner by restaurant Redbird features delights such as Creekstone Farms filet mignon and Valrhona chocolate cake. Book ahead and choose from two shows daily, Thursdays through Sundays.
July 2: The World’s Largest Salmon BBQ, Fort Bragg
Feast on salmon at this annual Fort Bragg event that also includes live music and local beer from North Coast Brewing Co. All proceeds go toward an initiative, backed by the local attraction Skunk Train, to improve salmon populations in the region, especially in the streams that flow into the Noyo River. Summer is also the perfect time to go on a Skunk Trainexcursion through the redwoods, take a spin on its railbikes, or enjoy special events like Music in the Redwoods or Cinema in the Redwoods.
July 2: Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival, Los Angeles
This free annual festival is scheduled to return this summer in Los Angeles’ huge city park. The first half of the summer will feature Macbeth, followed by a 21st-century adaptation of Francis Beaumont’s 17th-century comedy The Knight of the Burning Pestle. Runs through Sept. 4.
July 2–4: Willits Frontier Days, Mendocino County
Celebrate the July 4th weekend at this classic California rodeo in Mendocino County, an event that began in the 1920s as a fundraiser for a local hospital. Today you can cheer for the CCPRA professional rodeo and Junior rodeo stars, dine on barbecue, and watch the parade.
July 3: Bubbles BBQ and Blues, Yountville
Celebrate Independence Day weekend with a uniquely Napa Valley take on sparklers—cocktails made from Domaine Chandon’s special edition Garden Spritz bubbly, with its notes of bitter orange, cardamom, and chamomile. Come to the Yountville winery for barbecue, live music and lawn games; your admission includes two drinks, which you customize with Garden Spritz.
July 3–16: Jazz in the Pines, Idyllwild
Enjoy jazz and explore the delightful mountain town of Idyllwild like a local. This beloved Inland Empire festival returns this year, sponsored by Idyllwild Arts, the acclaimed creative collective that dates back to the 1940s. See acts such as the Euphoria Brass Band, The Rose Colella Quartet, and the Tom Hynes Trio, performing mostly at the Middleridge Wineryand Italian restaurant Ferro.
July 4: AmericaFest, Pasadena
The patriotic party in Pasadena is considered one of the biggest Fourth of July celebrations in the nation. This year—the 96th go-round for the event—coincides with the 100th birthday of its host, the Rose Bowl. The evening features a concert by Drake Milligan, a show by TNT Freestyle Motocross, and a very big fireworks show.
There are more showstopping fireworks displays around the state, such as the show at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco; the Big Bay Boom in San Diego; the synchronized displays over Lake Tahoe; Disneyland’s red-white-and-blue version of its nightly show; and the variety of pyrotechnics in the desert skies over Greater Palm Springs.
Hotels and resorts across the state offer their own parties, too, like the Intercontinental San Diego, which offers a few different parties with views of the downtown fireworks, or the Fourth of July Festival at the Ojai Valley Inn in Ventura County, where guests can enjoy carnival games, an all-inclusive barbecue feast, and their own fireworks.
July 5–Sept. 2: Festival of Arts Pageant of the Masters, Laguna Beach
Experience this beloved Orange County event featuring both traditional art exhibits and tableaux vivants—live recreations of famous works of art. This year’s theme is “Wonderful World,” with a focus on international artists and history, and inspired by famed 19th century traveler Nellie Bly. The exhibits of the Festival of Arts begin July 5, while the human-powered Pageant of the Masters begins July 7. To smooth your visit, pick up the 2022 Passport to the Arts: For $29, you’ll get onetime free admission to the Festival of Arts, Laguna Art-A-Fair, and Sawdust Art Festival, plus onetime free parking.
July 8–10: Season Begins at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, Salinas
The racetrack at Monterey County’s Laguna Seca Recreation Area begins its 2022 season with the GEICO Motorcycle MotoAmerica Superbike Speedfest (July 8–10) followed by the AHRMA Classic MotoFest of Monterey (July 15–17). To experience the 11-turn, 2.2-mile course yourself, join one of the Twilight Cycling Nights, including one on July 5.
July 9: First Annual Cider Release at Hidden Star, Camino
Cider fans won’t want to miss the premiere release at Hidden Star Camino Bakery and Taproom, an Apple Hill cidery that specializes in in craft hard apple ciders. The cider makers will debut several new varieties that pair beautifully with the day’s special doughnuts, pastries, and pies from Shorty's Doughnuts. Take a seat at the picnic tables and enjoy live music and the El Dorado County scenery.
July 9–10: San Jose Obon Festival, San Jose
The Silicon Valley hub has one of the few Japantowns left in the nation, and this weekend it celebrates a Buddhist Japanese holiday similar to the Day of the Dead—a joyful remembrance of departed ancestors complete with dancers, game booths, food booths, and taiko performances.
July 9–16: San Diego Pride, San Diego
San Diego always throws its LGBTQ+ party in July, and this year’s events include a mix of events, starting with a She Fest in Hillcrest (July 9), a 5K run and parade (July 16), and then a two-day festival (July 16–17) in Balboa Park.
July 13: Gilroy Garlic Festival Concert, San Martin
This year’s version of the famously garlicky lovefest will be spread out over a few events in the Gilroy area. During July, bring your picnic blanket to hear Nashville singer-songwriters perform on the grounds of Clos LaChance Winery. Enjoy the house wines and an array of garlic-enhanced foods for purchase. Coming this fall: A farm-to-table dinner showcasing more local garlic.
July 14–17: Taste Our Terroir, Livermore
You can easily fill a long weekend sampling local wines at the 50-plus wineries in the Livermore Valley Wine Country, east of San Francisco. This year’s event starts with a food-and-wine pairing competition at Garré Vineyard & Winery, followed by small tasting events at local restaurants and wineries for the rest of the weekend. Keep an eye out for the wineries of the Painted Barrel Trail, marked by artistically rendered wine barrels.
July 15–16: California Wine Festival, Santa Barbara
Taste some of the best Central Coast wines at this two-day event in Santa Barbara. Friday highlights rare and reserve wines, while Saturday is a big beachside tasting with hundreds of California wines, regional craft beers, and local chefs. You’ll also get a chance to vote for your favorite tri-tip, the delicious foundation of Santa Maria–style barbecue.
July 15–24: Festival Napa Valley, Napa
This 10-day wine-and-music festival combines timeless music with tastings and wine country cuisine. The lineup includes Joshua Bell, the Brubeck Brothers, and Trisha Yearwood, with performances at picturesque Napa Valley venues including The CIA at Copia and The Meritage Resort & Spa.
July 15–31: California State Fair, Sacramento
While this classic fair boasts plenty of blue-ribbon sheep, rabbits, and crafts on display, it also showcases a wide range of Golden State delights, including a food festival, a California Kitchen with cooking demos, and a Best of California Brewfest. This year’s musical acts include Chaka Khan, Clay Walker, TLC, and Smash Mouth.
July 20–31: California MidState Fair, Paso Robles
This classic fair dates back to 1946 and is held in the San Luis Obispo County town of Paso Robles. Along with the rides, exhibits, and fair food, this year’s music headliners include Lynyrd Skynrd, Santana, and Darius Rucker.
July 21–24: Comic-Con International, San Diego
The cultural touchstone is back in full force—and nerds around the globe are rejoicing. Featured panelists include Disney animator Jane Baer, who got her start on Sleeping Beauty, and Oxnard native Gilbert Hernandez, co-creator of the acclaimed Love & Rockets comic book series. Badges are currently sold out, though some may become available last-minute, through cancellations. Anyone, however, can check out the new Comic-Con Museum, which celebrates its grand opening July 1 with a new exhibit, Spider-Man: Beyond Amazing. Or, broaden your love of geek culture by taking this Comic Book and Science Fiction Tour of California.
July 22: Del Mar Racetrack Opening Day, Del Mar
Come watch the ponies race at this track, just steps from the beach in the San Diego County town of Del Mar. Opening Day offers serious people-watching thanks to the many women donning fabulous hats, but the whole season offers a variety of events, including beer tastings. Buy your seating package online ahead of time and take advantage of deals such as Free-Admission Thursdays. Runs through Sept. 11.
July 22–31: Bear Valley Music Festival, Bear Valley
This decades-old music festival, located halfway between Lake Tahoe and Yosemite, is the ultimate crowd-pleaser: You’ll hear classical performances by the Bear Valley Orchestra as well as plenty of pop and rock. This year features chestnuts such as Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 as well as Jefferson Starship and an Alabama tribute band.
July 29–31: Siskiyou Lumberjack Fiesta Days
For 75 years now, both lumberjacks and aspiring lumberjacks have tested their skills during this weekend in the Shasta Cascade. Compete in logging events (including a Lil’ Logger contest) or go head-to-head by way of horseshoes, watermelon-eating, or dancing. The Siskiyou County event ends with a parade on Sunday.
July 29–31: HARD Summer, San Bernardino
Get your rave on at this three-day festival devoted to EDM and hip-hop, spread out over five outdoor stages at the NOS Events Center in San Bernardino. Megan Thee Stallion, Lili Uzi Vert, and Porter Robinson top the bill, which also features Joji, Zeds Dead, Subtronics, and Alison Wonderland.
July 30–31: Long Beach Dragon Boat Festival
Combine a thrilling sport with a culture festival: This competition of dragon boats at Long Beach’s Marine Stadium is one of the largest in California. Attendees can watch teams row long, colorfully decorated canoes in a tradition that goes back more than 2,000 years. Watch the races—or plan ahead and enter yourself—then check out the Chinese traditional dance, acrobats, and martial arts performances.
July 30–31: Oxnard Salsa Festival
The two-day party in Ventura County was first celebrated in 1993 to honor Oxnard’s cultural and agricultural roots. Today the festival celebrates the many forms of salsa in historic downtown Oxnard, with live bands, dance lessons, and plenty of chances to taste salsas and hot sauces.
July 31: Sac Waterfront Festival, Sacramento
This one-day country music festival debuts at Sacramento’s historic waterfront, a 28-acre National Historic Landmark District and State Historic Park on the Sacramento River. Grammy nominee Jimmie Allen headlines, with supporting actsNeon Union, Jonny Houlihan, and Moonshine Crazy. The concert stage is right in the midst of Old Sacramento’s shops, restaurants, and historic sites related to both the Gold Rush and the Transcontinental Railroad.