Southern California is only a few short hours away from Las Vegas, and at the end of the drive is a plethora of renowned celebrations unique to the state. The combination of wineries, live music and beautiful beaches creates a thriving environment, and as new events pop up each year, festivals can be found nearly every weekend of the year.
Whether its for the wine, the food or the live music, here are a few festivals worth a weekend road trip:
32nd Annual Paso Robles Wine Festival
Pooling the resources of more than 60 local wineries, the Paso Robles Wine Festival is making a name for itself in wine enthusiast circles. The four-day event spotlights fine food and wine, as well as winemaking seminars and countless winery tours.
Whether festivalgoers are in search of music, good food, beer or flea market-style vendors, Fiesta Hermosa has all the bases covered. The Charity Beer and Wine Garden features one of two music stages at the festival, and more than 300 artists display their creations and crafts against the Hermosa Beach backdrop. There’s even a “Kiddie Carnival” stocked with rides, activities and a petting zoo. The festival takes place twice a year — on Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends.
2nd Annual Bacon and Barrels Festival
Los Olivos, San Diego
May 30-June 1, July 18-20
This unique festival is young but popular, featuring American favorites — bacon and booze. Since the first festival was so popular, the 2014 Bacon and Barrels Festival will feature two separate festivals, one in Los Olivos and one in San Diego. Both festivals will feature dishes concocted and imagined by chefs from local restaurants, as well as bacon-inspired desserts, cocktails, wines and beers.
Going on 19 years strong, JazzFest West is continuing to bring in world-class Jazz musicians to Bonelli Park in San Dimas, Calif. This year’s festival will feature artists like Robin Thicke and Men of Soul, while some other big names to perform in the past are Stevie Wonder and Fantasia. Pack chairs and water, get there early, and jam out during the two-day festival. It’s a great festival for Jazz enthusiasts and newbies alike.
Big Bear Renaissance Faire
Aug. 2-3, 9-10, 16-17
It’s not a typical wine or musical festival, but the Big Bear Renaissance Faire is a unique experience, chalk-full of medieval activities and attractions. Regardless of whether festivalgoers are Renaissance fair pros or newcomers, there’s enough entertainment to keep anyone busy, like period musicians, charging knights, gypsies, belly dancers, magicians and theater performances. Stop by the Royal Gallery at the jousting arena and meet the faire’s royalty. The festival takes place over three different weekends in August, so there are plenty of opportunities to jump on the Renaissance fair bandwagon.
Sunset Savor the Central Coast
Imagine four days of food and wine, creative culinary experiences with celebrity chefs along the Pacific coast; that’s exactly what keeps festival goers going back to Sunset Savor the Central Coast, which is about to host its fourth annual festival. Attendees enjoy unlimited food and wine, stocked by more than 100 wineries and restaurants, as well as tours through the Santa Margarita Vineyard.
43rd Annual Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival
Half Moon Bay
We may be stretching the borders of ‘Southern’ California here (almost to San Francisco), but as summer transitions into fall, California’s festivals will still be in full-swing with the Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival. The event touts itself for it’s “World-Famous Celebration of the Great Gourd” with a pumpkin weigh-off offering a $30,000 prize for new world records. Other pumpkin-themed festivities include a parade and pie eating contests, as well as three stages of live rock, salsa, blues and folk music. There’s no shortage pumpkin food, and the Half Moon Bay Winery and Brewery will supply seasonal drinks.