AÑO NUEVO STATE PARK
Due to their penis-noses and penchant for lazing about, no animal invites as much tittering as the male elephant seal. We are currently in the thick of their molting season (older males nap and shed on the beach from July until the end of August), the perfect time to hike out to their hangout on the tip of Año Nuevo. Be sure you snag your visitor’s permit — you’ll need one to enter from April-August — from the entrance station.
Open March–Sept., 8 a.m.–6 p.m. 1 New Year’s Creek, Pescadero. (Off Highway 1) (650) 879-2025, www.parks.ca.gov
ALAMEDA BOOZE DISTRICT
On the western edge of the island of Alameda, a one-time naval station has been repurposed into the discerning boozehound’s day trip of choice. Located within a easy block’s stumble of one another lie the tasting rooms of St. George Spirits (boasting absinthe, flavored vodkas, and coffee liqueur on the shelves) and Rock Wall Wine Company, a co-op of local wineries. They’re both a sunny walk from the ferry terminal — stroll by the massive aircraft carriers docked farther down the shore if you need to sober up after, or west to Rosenblum Cellars (2900 Main, Alameda) if you need more tastes.
CANDLESTICK POINT STATE RECREATION AREA
Candlestick Point has gone through a lot of changes in its varied history — but its current incarnation as a well-tended, if sometimes landscaped-feeling, urban refuge perfectly jibes with our times. Refreshing views of the bay, some fantastic hiking trails, and a sense of seclusion (despite the nearness of Highway 101 and the stadium) make this a neato spot to picnic, bird watch, or fish. Don’t forget to bring those layers though becuase sometimes the wind attempts to rifle gently through you.
Candlestick Park exit off Highway 101, SF
CHINA CAMP STATE PARK
Historically this waterfront slice on San Pablo Bay is important as the site of a Cantonese immigrant shrimp-fishing village in the 1800s (there’s a wee museum). For nature, there’s a delightful salt marsh and lazy-day winding paths drenched in sunlight and the calls of waterfowl. But — why hide it? — this is one of the best make-out places on the bay, with couples gladly making hay in the grasses. After the picnic, of course. Wet your whistle for the Annual Heritage Day Celebration on Aug. 27, 11:30 a.m.–4 p.m.
101 Peacock Gap Trail, San Rafael. www.parks.ca.gov
Damn this SF summer fog! Escape north to Marin, where just past Boonville and just inside the border of Samuel P. Taylor State Park lie these cool pools. The rocky, clothing-optional swimming holes cascade into each other and feature prime jump-off spots for the daredevils among us who can’t be satisfied with a shady forest and some cold water on a hot day. Park your car just past Shafter Bridge (coming from Lagunitas) and walk underneath the copper-colored bridge to arrive. Samuel P. Taylor Park, Sir Francis Drake, Lagunitas
Don’t freak, you don’t have to go far for nature adventures. This inappropriately-named Marin Headlands summit is just a 15 minute — albeit gnarly — hike up a gorgeous trail from a stop on the No. 76 Muni line. Once you’ve peaked, rest in the tall grass with a phenomenal 180 degree view of Sausalito, the bay, the bridges, and the city from downtown to the avenues. It’s like you’re inside one of those awesome Panoramio pics, but it’s not freezing your computer.
Trailhead begins on the right, 100 feet downhill on McCollough from the Conzelman intersection, Marin County.
Three-day dancing and frolicking to superlative house music with thousands of others. With DJ Larry Heard, a.k.a. Mr. Fingers.
Fri/15-Sun/17, $125–>$150, Belden. www.sunsetcampout.com
PAL BLUES FESTIVAL
A smokin’ BBQ competition will satisfy, as will roots and blues music from dozens of performers.
Friday, July 22, 6 p.m.–8 p.m. and Saturday, July 23, 11 a.m.–8 p.m., free.
Courthouse Square, 2200 Broadway, Redwood City. www.palbluesfestival.com
SONOMA COUNTY FAIR
It’s the 75th year for this bonanza of California country living, with carnival rides, turkey races, vaudeville performances, wine tasting, and live music.
July 27–Aug. 14, various times, $9, kids under six and seniors free. Sonoma County Fairgrounds, www.sonomacountyfair.com
Bend over backward, outdoors, as yoga meets music with Michael Franti and Spearhead, Girl Talk, Cornflower, MC Yogi, and more.
July 28–31, $24.50–$450, Squaw Valley. squaw.wanderlustfestival.com
Celebrate the earth by getting down (and dirty?) with India.Arie and Idan Raichel, Aaron Neville, the Wailers, Funky Meters, and dozens more.
Aug. 5-7, $5–$180. Black Oak Ranch, Laytonville. www.thegaiafestival.com
GOOD OLD FASHIONED BLUEGRASS FESTIVAL
The Northern California Bluegrass Society goes all out with three days of pickin’ and pluckin’ campground jams and family fun.
Aug. 12–14, $8.50–$65. Bolado Park, Tres Piños. www.scbs.org/events/gov
A revamped food and wine aspect refreshes the massive SF music fest, whose star power includes Muse, Phish, and Arcade Fire.
Aug. 12–14, times and prices vary. Golden Gate Park, www.sfoutsidelands.com
BODEGA SEAFOOD ART AND WINE FESTIVAL
Drink, dine, and shop to your heart’s content. Also: Bodega Seafood Festival rubber duck races!
Saturday, Aug. 27, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. and Sunday, Aug. 28, 10 a .m.–5 p.m., $8–$15. children under 12 free. 16855 Bodega Hwy, Bodega. www.winecountryfestivals.com
The Bay’s hugest legal outdoor rave returns, now in Oakland for your fun-fur, hands-in-the-air pleasure. There will be a million DJs.
Sept. 24, price and time TBD. Oakland Coliseum Grounds, Oakl. www.sflovevolution.com
For more summer fairs and festival fun, visit www.sfbg.com/summerfests.