Want to round out your summer with a bang? California takes its August fun quite seriously, with a chock-a-block selection of festivals for music, food, and outdoor fun, from watching the surf experts go at it to making the most of dazzling night skies. There’s even one weekend festival that celebrates the near-destruction of a town in the 19th century. Here are 18 events that make a for a fun summer finale.
All Month: Pop-Up Disney! A Mickey Celebration, Anaheim
Up your selfie game at this limited-time series of galleries in Downtown Disney, which salute Mickey from the 1928 Steamboat Willie animation and beyond. One highlight: the giant Minnie Bow sofa. The attraction runs through Sept. 2.
July 27–Aug. 3: Eureka Street Art Festival
This little North Coast town is a hotbed for cool public murals, and this week-long festival in its Old Town area lets you witness new art being created. Watch a range of international painters at work each day, take city mural tours, or perhaps try your hand at a street-painting workshop. On the last day, a party celebrates the new murals’ official debuts.
July 31–Aug 4: International Surf Festival, Redondo Beach
It’s high season for surfing. While the Vans U.S. Open of Surfing wraps up in Huntington Beach, L.A. County hosts its own surf fest in the South Bay town of Redondo Beach: The International Surf Festival offers up amateur surfing competitions, body surfing contests, and paddleboard races.
Through Aug. 25: Music in the Vineyards, Napa
Choose from 26 days’ worth of chamber-music concerts in Napa Valley—Mendelssohn, Schubert, Dvořák, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Brahms, and more. Some concerts are combined with winery dinners, wine tastings, and meet-and-greets with musicians. Check the calendar for free open rehearsals, too.
Aug. 2–3: Dark Sky Festival, Lassen Volcanic National Park
Located far from any city lights in the Shasta Cascade region, this other-worldly national park makes for great stargazing almost any time of year—but August is prime time. This annual festival includes special “constellation tours,” ranger-led hikes, and Junior Ranger Night Explorer activities. And if those dates don’t work for you? Head to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks on Aug 23–24 for the Sequoia Dark Sky Festival.
Aug. 3: Burbank Car Classic
It’s cool to look at exotic or vintage cars, and this day festival will 150 restored and pre-1974 beauties, set along four blocks of downtown Burbank. Not surprisingly, the movie-studio town will also feature “celebrity vehicles” that have appeared in TV shows or movies. The Burbank Town Center’s Outdoor Terrace will also have kids activities and music.
Aug. 3: Tour de Big Bear
This is the 10th year for this fun cycling event in Southern California’s San Bernardino Mountains. Choose from a wide range of distances and challenge levels: 10K, 25-, 50-, 70-, 106- and 109-mile courses. Each route includes aid stations and gorgeous mountain scenery.
Aug. 3–4: Indian Fair Days and Pow Wow, North Fork
This annual event in Madera County, hosted by the Sierra Mono Museum, is one of the longest running pow-wows in California, and celebrates the local Mono culture. Come check out the inter-tribal dancing, gourd dancing, color guard, and arts and craft vendors. Save plenty of room for the fabulous Indian Tacos.
Aug. 3, 24: MUSE/IQUE, San Marino
Grab dinner at one of the cafes at L.A. County’s gorgeous Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens, then watch one of the performances from this summer series that features ballet dancers, orchestra, and vocalists—with themes inspired by iconic movie songs, trains, and more.
Aug. 9–11: Outside Lands Music and Arts Fest, San Francisco
This now-annual event in Golden Gate Park mixes live music with a lot of local food and drink—like the steamed baos of The Chairman, Humphry Slocombe ice cream, and the burgers of Jackrabbit—among the festival's food trucks and its Cheese Lands area. This year’s headliners are Paul Simon, Childish Gambino and Twenty One Pilots, but the lineup also includes standouts such as The Lumineers, Kasey Musgraves, Lil Wayne, and Mavis Staples.
Aug. 17–18: Gravenstein Apple Fair, Sebastopol
Fall feels right around the corner at this festival in this Sonoma County town, where the sweet Gravenstein apple is starting its harvest season. There’s live music, kids activities, and lots of chances for tastings: Visit the various tents for craft cider, wine, and food pairings. And don’t miss the Agrarian Games, where you can take apple-juggling lessons or watch the Ugly Produce Beauty Contest.
Aug. 15–18: Concours d’Elegance, Pebble Beach
You’ll see classic cars all over the Monterey area during this weekend-long event—with the Tour d’Elegance through Pebble Beach and the Pebble Beach RetroAuto show at the Inn at Spanish Bay. The weekend’s finale brings 200 eye-popping collector cars onto the 18th fairway of Pebble Beach Golf Links.
Aug. 22–25: L.A. Food & Wine Festival
L.A.’s culinary scene spreads across the entire city, so it’s not a surprise that this festival has chef’s dinners and experiences all over town (with a la carte admission), including a Steak-Out and BBQ with Curtis Stone, a burger throwdown hosted by The Burger Show’s Alvin Cailan, and a dinner show at the fabulous Magic Castle.
Aug. 22–25: Butte County Fair, Gridley
Come to this classic country fair in the Shasta Cascade region, complete with a roping contest, a deconstruction derby, carnival rides, award-winning livestock and crafts, and plenty of indulgent fair cuisine.
Aug. 23: Earthquake Festival, Winters
Locals haven’t forgotten that their Yolo County town was just about leveled in an 1892 earthquake—indeed, each year they celebrate its rebuilding with this festival featuring food and crafts vendors and a big band. It’s a nice excuse to explore the shops and restaurants of the historic downtown.
Aug. 24: Eat Drink SF, San Francisco
Nosh on the best of the San Francisco foodie scene at this one-day food festival housed at the Dogpatch neighborhood’s Midway. The day includes two Grand Tastings featuring local restaurants and chefs and dozens or purveyors of wine, beer, and spirits. To pace yourself, head to the Backyard BBQ and a Pizza Patio area.
Aug. 24: Village Days at La Purisima Mission, Lompoc
The Central coast mission La Purisma is the most extensively restored mission in the Golden State, sitting on a 2,000-acre park with miles of trails. Kids will love getting hands-on at this semi-annual event that lets them try acorn-grinding, tule doll-making and playing Chumash games. Come for a free tour or check the calendar for other events during the year, such as Mission Life Day and candlelight tours.
Aug. 30–31: Maritime Museum Family Overnight, San Diego
Here’s a creative way to spend Labor Day weekend: Sleeping on the 1863 barque Star of India, the oldest active sailing ship in the world. This floating museum of historic vessels, docked along downtown San Diego, only rarely offers such family overnights. Meals are included, and costumed, in-character staffers will teach you how to move cargo and raise sails.