The summer solstice may not happen until June 21, but the summer scene at California’s beaches, national parks, and theme parks are in full swing. It’s also a great time to enjoy the best of homegrown delicacies—June is California Avocado Month—or attend classic fairs, like those in Orange County and San Diego. June also brings a lot of unique festivals and events, from the many Pride events to the first-ever U.S. Olympic trials for skateboarding. Here are 20 epic ways to kick off your summer in the Golden State.
All Month: National Camping Month
It’s the perfect time to camp all over California—from beach campgrounds to national parks and state parks, as well as cool spots like Casa De Fruta, a longtime family fruit stand that offers RV and tent sites along with a restaurant, store, and playground. Check out this California Now podcast episode for super-scenic campground suggestions, from idyllic spots in Sequoia National Park to Jalama Beach County Park in the Central Coast region, which has windswept ocean views, cabins, and great access to its famed local burgers.
May 31–June 2: Truckee Craw Thaw Music Festival
This now-annual music festival, held in historic downtown Truckee, celebrates the magic of the spring snow thaw—especially exciting this year after a long winter season. The long weekend includes a lineup of regional and national musicians, lots of food and drinks, and a farm-to-table brunch benefitting the California Wildfire Relief Fund.
May 31– June 3: Auction Napa Valley
This four-day extravaganza includes celebrity-filled parties, wine tastings, dinners, and auctions featuring rare wines. You can also bid (or e-bid) on lots that include both wines and experiences, including visits to Napa Valley wineries such as Kenzo Estate and Chateau Montelena.
June 1–2: Castroville Artichoke Festival
This annual Monterey County festival offers chef demos, field tours, kids activities, and myriad ways to taste the local edible thistle flower—grilled, fried, and even in cupcakes—all readily paired with local wine or craft beer. Fun fact: In 1948 a pretty young woman named Norma Jean Mortenson was crowned as the first festival queen (and later became Marilyn Monroe).
The Orange County town near Anaheim boasts of having the world’s largest one-day street fair and chili cook-off. The annual festivities play out on the streets of Tustin’s Old Town with live bands, a Family Fun Zone, food booths, beer and wine gardens, a classic car show, and the chili-fueled showdown, with about 50 teams in contention.
June 6–8: Truckee Dirt Fondo
Bring your bike or at least cheer on the competitors at this off-road bicycle race and family festival set along the dirt and gravel roads that criss-cross Tahoe National Forest. The three routes (best traversed with mixed-terrain, cyclocross, or mountain bikes) include stretches of trail as high as 8,006 feet, near Sardine Peak. The post-race festival includes food trucks, live music, and local beer provided by FiftyFifty Brewing.
June 7–8: Huichica, Sonoma
The festival (say it wah-chee-ka) blends live music, food and local wine, all set at the lovely Gundlach Bundschu Winery (which fought back with vigor during the wine country wildfires of 2017). The unconventional lineup (touted as “artists worth knowing”) is headlined by Lee Fields & the Expressions, Real Estate, and Connan Mockasin.
June 7–9: Contemporary Crafts Market, Pasadena
Art meets function at this juried public event with a wide array of jewelry to ceramics, furnishings, blown glass, wood, and more. Meet the artisans and, while you’re at it, explore the surrounding Old Pasadena.
June 8: 24th Annual Microbrew Fest, Chico
This Shasta Cascade town is a hot bed for great craft beer, and this annual festival showcases a wide selection of brews, ciders, and new wines. Taste beers such as Stone Brewing and Nor Cal Brewing, and learn about brewing your own at home.
June 8: Beerfest, The Good One, Santa Rosa
Sixty Northern California breweries and cidermakers will gather on the lawn of Sonoma County’s Luther Burbank Center for the Arts for tastings of sour beers, “hop bombs,” barrel-aged brews, and more.
June 12: Field to Vase Dinner, Sacramento
Come dine on a farm-to-table dinner (paired with local beer, wine and flower-themed cocktail) set on the lawn of California’s state capitol. The tables are decorated with hundreds of flower varieties grown around the state, in honor of California Grown Flowers Month. Snap up your seat fast—there are only 150 spots.
June 13–16: Dew Tour, Long Beach
Skateboarding will make its Olympic debut at the 2020 Tokyo games, and this annual skateboard competition and festival in L.A. County will become the sport’s first-ever U.S.-based Olympic qualifying event. The competition will bring together 300 of the world’s top skateboarders, in both park and street competitions, but the free event also includes live music, local food and drink vendors, and a public skate park.
June 14–30: A Chorus Line, Sonoma
The annual Broadway Under the Stars series kicks off its season with the classic story about Broadway dancers, staged at the lovely Jack London State Historic Park. Performances begin at 7:30 p.m., but come as early as 5 with your picnic blanket to enjoy the musical entertainment and grab food and local wine from on-site vendors.
June 15: Butte County Olive Festival, Oroville
June 15–16: 27th Annual Pasadena Chalk Festival and Car Show
Check out the amazing and temporary murals made by 600 artists along three blocks of sidewalk in The Paseo shopping center of Pasadena, done in both classical and contemporary styles. Sunday includes a classic car show along the same streets.
June 14–16: San Diego International Beer Festival, Del Mar
This craft brew festival at the Del Mar Fairgrounds is the biggest of its kind on the West Coast. Sample your way through beers, meads, and ciders from nearly 200 breweries—including San Diego County stars like Ballast Point and The Lost Abbey. While you’re there, take in the rides, exhibits, and fried delights of the San Diego County Fair.
June 14–16: Santa Rosa Country Summer
First launched in 2014, this country music festival at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds has a chicken-fried spirit, with headliners Jake Owen, Tim McGraw, and Old Dominion, and featuring acts such as Big & Rich and Carly Pearce.
June 15: Century Ride, Lake Almanor
Take a cycling trip in a very scenic part of the Shasta Cascade region at this combination event for varying levels. The toughest challenge is the century ride, which spans 108 miles, going around the lake and through Indian Valley, with a 3,200-foot elevation gain. Or try the metric century ride (56 miles and 1,200 feet of elevation gain) or the more leisurely (and mostly flat) 33-mile ride along the lake.
June 21–23: Summer Solstice Parade & Festival, Santa Barbara
The Central Coast enjoys its own version of the midnight sun at this quirky, long-running festival with a Mardi Gras vibe. The festival with food, wine, live music, and kids’ activities runs in Alameda Park the whole weekend, and a colorful parade runs down State Street on June 22.
June 29: Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival, Los Angeles
Nothing says summer quite like hearing the bard in the park. This free annual festival kicks off on June 30 at the Old Zoo in Los Angeles’ huge city park. The first half of the summer will feature a production of Twelfth Night, then Pericles picks up on July 27 and runs through August 30.