Facepaint, Kites and Cars: The 10 Best Bay Area Summer Festivals

Read next

The days are getting hotter and the kids are itching to be done with school. Don’t let the panic set in! Mark your calendar and fill those summer days with some of the Bay Area’s best festivals and you will have some happy (and tired) kids! Check out our list below with ten of our favorites.



Kid Fest – Concord
Looking for a fun way to spend Memorial Day weekend? Head over to Concord where it’s Kid Fest time! Puppets, singers, martial artists and even your favorite TV characters will be there to entertain all weekend. Carnival rides will get you spinning. Come on Memorial Day and you can also check out Pet Fest!

Dates: May 23-25
Times: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday; 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Monday
Cost: $6 with canned food donation, $7 without; kids under 2 and seniors 65+ are free

Mt. Diablo High School
2450 Grant St.
Concord, Ca
Online: kidfestconcord.com

jam_band_festPhoto: JAMband


JAMband Family Festival – San Francisco
Little rock stars will enjoy getting their groove on at JAMband – a family music festival that occurs throughout the summer in Golden Gate Park. Set up a picnic blanket with other families as Charity and the JAMband crank out tunes that will definitely get you dancing. Grab some grub from the nearby Park Chalet restaurant and make a night of it.

Dates: June 6, July 26, September 13 and October 25
Times: 3-5 p.m.
Cost: free

Western end of Golden Gate Park near the Park Chalet restaurant
1000 Great Highway
San Francisco, Ca
Online: jamjamjam.com/jambandfamilyfestival.html

Northern California Pirate Festival – Vallejo
Ahoy, me hearties! The place to be for all ye landlubbers this Father’s Day weekend is the Northern California Pirate Festival. Don your pirate gear and join your mateys for a weekend of cannon battles, swimming mermaids and nautically-inspired handcrafts. Young swabs can develop their pirate skills at the School of Piracy or search for booty in the treasure hunts.

Dates: June 20-21
Times: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Cost: One-day admission is $10; kids 11 and under are free.

Vallejo Waterfront Park
298 Mare Island Way
Vallejo, Ca
Online: norcalpiratefestival.com

Woodies on the Wharf – Santa Cruz
If your little one has a retro fascination for cars covered in wood, then you must make the trek to Santa Cruz for Woodies on the Wharf. Each year, around 200 woodies of all kinds park on the wharf near the Santa Cruz Boardwalk for a day of fun. Music, woodie goodies and prize drawings are fun for the whole family. Woodies Café (a year-round restaurant located on the wharf) is a great option if you need to grab some grub while you are there. Remember to layer and bring the sunscreen as the day typically starts off cool and ends warm.

Date: June 27
Times: 10 am – 3:30 pm
Cost: free

Santa Cruz Wharf
21 Municipal Wharf
Santa Cruz, Ca
Online: santacruzwoodies.com

Pedalfest at Jack London SquarePhoto: Pedalfest at Jack London Square


Pedalfest – Oakland
Bikes of all shapes and sizes are the highlight of this festival in Jack London Square. Kids can decorate their bikes and participate in the kids’ bicycle parade to kick off the festival. Cycling daredevils will please the crowds with their stunts. Or check out Whymcycles – an eclectic collection of bicycles made from recycled car parts, trampolines and more! The Exploratorium will have a hands-on exhibit where families can learn the science behind all things bicycle.

Date: July 25
Times: 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Cost: free

Jack London Square
Embarcadero West
Oakland, Ca
Online: pedalfestjacklondon.com

Berkeley Kite Festival – Berkeley
Let’s go fly a kite, up to the highest height! The Berkeley Kite Festival is the place to be for kite flyers in the Bay Area. Watch kite flying competitions, build your own kite or purchase one from one of the vendors on-site. Check out the amazing art of Kite Flying Ballet. Bounce houses, petting zoo, pony rides and face painting – all available in the Kid Zone. Admission is free but you’ll need to pay $15 for parking. Kids will love the candy drop where a kite drops candy from the sky—so cool!

Dates: July 25-26
Times: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Cost: free; $15 parking includes free shuttle

11 Spinnaker Way
Berkeley, Ca
Online: highlinekites.com

Santa Clara County Fair – San Jose
Nothing screams summer like a trip to the county fair! The demolition derby is kid favorite or check out the 4-H animals including pigs, cows, sheep and goats. This fair is on the smaller and more manageable size (good for little ones who tend to complain about walking) but still has all of the carnival rides and funnel cakes that you could wish for.

Dates: July 30-August 2

Santa Clara County Fairgrounds
344 Tully Rd
San Jose, Ca
Online: thefair.org


Photo courtesy of Gravenstein Apple Fair


Monterey Scottish Games and Celtic Festival – Monterey
Kilts, Celts and kings! Celebrate all things Celtic at this fair in Monterey. Kids will love the sheep dog demonstrations and athletic competitions that likely involve throwing a large object as far as possible. Bagpipers and other musical entertainment keep the event lively.

Dates: August 1-2
Times: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Cost: Pre-sale tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for seniors, military and kids 9-15; kids under 9 are free.

Monterey County Fairgrounds
2004 Fairground Rd
Monterey, Ca
Online: montereyscotgames.com

Gravenstein Apple Fair – Sebastopol
If you want to check out some music, local vendors and of course, apples, then head up to Sonoma County for the Gravenstein Apple Fair. This down home country fair is in its 42nd year and boasts sweet tasting fun for the whole family. Live music is a big draw as well the life-on-the-farm tent where you can learn about the history of apple farming in the area.

Dates: August 8-9
Times: Saturday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Cost: $15 adults 13 and over; $12 seniors and veterans; $10 kids 6-12; kids 5 and under are free.

Ragle Ranch Park
Sebastopol, Ca
Online: gravensteinapplefair.com

Bricks by the Bay – San Jose
If your house is riddled with LEGO bricks as far as the eye can see, then you likely are living with a LEGO addict. LEGO fans of all ages will love the two ballrooms full of LEGO display at Bricks by the Bay. The public exhibit is a great opportunity to check out huge displays of national landmarks, superhero villages, train displays and more – all made out of LEGO bricks. Leave the strollers at home as they are not allowed in the exhibit area. This event is geared towards kids who can look but not touch.

Date: August 9
Times: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. (last admission at 3 p.m.)
Cost: $11.95 in advance or $15 at the door

Santa Clara Convention Center
5001 Great America Parkway
Santa Clara, Ca
Online: bricksbythebay.com

Which summer festival is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

—Kate Loweth