Event Round-Up: Sept. 7

Well, for most people, school is officially back in session. The events around town may die down until closer to the holidays, but there is still plenty to do! Check out my latest event round-up for local things to do over the next month.

Bedford Gallery: thru Sept. 15 (Walnut Creek)

Susan Lee-Chun_Photo Credit
From BedfordGallery.org

We’ve talked about this before, but the Bedford Gallery at the Lesher Center for the Arts always has really awesome exhibits for cheap. Right now, it’s the contemporary inflatable art exhibit, called Blow Up! Check it out!

Full Moon Sail: Sept. 13 (San Francisco)

Well, this looks awesome! The original event sold out, but you can pick up tickets for Thurs., Sept. 12 to go on a full moon sail in the Bay on a schooner! Tickets are $69 and there is a cash bar on board! More info.

Second Saturday: Sept. 14 (Oakland)

Head to Jack London Square for an awesome street festival that will have live music, more than 50 vendors, and all sorts of fun and games! Oh, did I mention it’s completely free? Here is the link.

Comedy Day: Sept. 15 (San Francisco)

Go to the aptly-named Robin Williams Meadow in Golden Gate Park for five hours of the best local comedy in the Bay Area – all for free! What better way to enjoy a weekend than laughing your head off in the city? See here!

Walnut Festival: Sept. 19-22 (Walnut Creek)

It’s that time of year again! The biggest, can’t-miss event for everyone in Walnut Creek. The 83rd annual Walnut Festival will take place later this month. Get more info here!

Capitola Art & Wine Festival  – Sept 14th & 15th

Enjoy over 160 fine artists while sipping exceptional wines from 22 Santa Cruz Mountain wineries. 

Capitola Beach Festival – Sept 28th  

Capitola’s 2nd Annual Beach Festival – something for everyone, including a 3-Miler Fun Run hosted by Wharf to Wharf, a Horseshoe Tournament, Lighted Nautical Parade, Fishing Derby, Sand Sculpture Contest, Chalk Art Event, Concert at Esplanade Park, Rowboat Races, and more! 

Ballet at Stern Grove!

I was able to catch part of the Stern Grove Festival in San Francisco recently – I made it to the ballet, which was fantastic! We spent the first half of the ballet in the De Young Museum, so we missed a chunk, but it was still great.

The ballet was a free performance, which I think is so interesting that they provide this show for free. And it clearly paid off, because right in front of me were a couple little girls getting the full experience.

We learned that they were taking ballet themselves, and now they were getting to experience a live, professional ballet for free in a beautiful setting. Plus, you can’t beat a nice day out in the city!

It takes a bit of time to park and walk to the grove. Once we got there, we had to hike up the hill and find a place to sit amongst the trees. Luckily, in the area we went to, some people were saving a spot for their friends who didn’t show, so even with our late arrival, we got a decent view! See pictures for how far up the hill people climbed to see this free show.

If you want stellar seating, make it it a day and get there early and have a picnic. When Stern Grove Festival comes back around next year, I’ll be sure to make more out of it. What a great way to involve those who normally couldn’t afford to see it and the opportunity for small children to experience the ballet.

Go check out the Ed Hardy exhibit in SF!

According to the deYoung Museum’s website, California native and renowned tattoo artist Ed Hardy had a goal of elevating the tattoo from its “subculture” status to an important visual art form. I’d say he succeeded!

Ed Hardy is a household name now because he got into mass branding on shirts, skateboards and surfboards. My kids and even I had an Ed Hardy shirt. He says in the exhibit that business decisions allowed him to retire. The deYoung Museum is currently holding a really interesting exhibit on his work that I’d highly recommend visiting.

From now until early October, you can go see the Hardy exhibit for less than $30 (or FREE if you’re a member!). The exhibit surveys Hardy’s life in art that has its inspiration in both traditional American tattooing and Japan’s ukiyo-e era culture.

He actually started his tattoo career at age 10 with eyeliner and ink pens, when a friends father came back from the war and his tattoos intrigued the young artist who had been drawing from a very young age. I find him interesting because he has studied fine art and is truly an artist. When we handed in our tickets to enter, the staff said he often visits the exhibit with his dog. He is there most days. Unfortunately not the time I was there, but maybe you will get lucky!

The new Riviera Apartments: SF in WC?

The new Riviera units downtown are pricey, but they give some people San Francisco vibes. Top and middle level ones are going in the $1-2 million range, but their target buyers are people moving out of the city for a reason. Not only is there parking, but it’s near BART and Target and have an HOA.

Some new tenants like the “city feel” the building itself puts off, with all the amenities you’d expect from newer units in downtown San Francisco. There is a nice upstairs lounge area, it’s close to public transportation, and best of all, there is car and bike parking!

There is even a fire pit, a bike lock and repair station, and views of Mt. Diablo. I know of one tenant who opted for one on the non-Mt. D side because looking at another building actually reminded her more of living in San Francisco. To each their own!

So far, the units are about 40% filled, but I’m sure that will continue to go even higher. Units get snatched up in Walnut Creek super fast these days, and the location is pretty ideal. It will be interesting to see how many SF transplants the Riviera apartments end up getting!

Event Round-Up: June 15th

It’s officially summer, in case you missed that massive heat wave at the beginning of the week! Time to plan around pool parties, trips to the beach, and picnics at the park! Here are some fun, local events for the next month or so happening in the Bay Area:

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Exploratorium: Self, Made (thru Sept. 2)

A really cool-looking exhibit about self-discovery that is on display for all ages at the Exploratorium all summer. Find out what makes you, you at this interactive-heavy exhibit. Information here.

Walnut Creek: Uncorked (June 20th)

The best restaurants in Walnut Creek offer delicious food, you’ll get to sip wine and walk through downtown, and mingle with the rest of the local community at this annual event. Get tickets here!

Walnut Creek: Music and Movies at the Park (June 21st)

This summer movie and music series will start at Tice Valley Park on 6/21, showing Bumblebee and playing the Rossmorr Band. Music starts at 7 p.m., and the movie starts around 8:30 (at sundown). Bring your family! Information here.

Pleasant Hill: Summer Concerts by the Lake (June 23)

Every other Sunday in Pleasant Hill, you can enjoy free music by the lake from 6-8 pm. On this date in particular, you can take in the sounds of Midnight Flyer. For more info and a full schedule, visit:
https://www.ci.pleasant-hill.ca.us/888/Festivals-Events.

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The Mercury News

Orinda: CalShakes (July 3rd)

Can’t beat a great outdoor venue for some small-time theater. Though the run on A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be over at CalShakes, you could take up The Good Person of Szechwan or plan ahead for House of Joy or MacBeth later in the season. Get more info here.

Stern Grove: Free and fun!

If you’ve never heard of Stern Grove Festival, you should definitely check it out! It’s a free music festival in San Francisco that features some great bands. They even have kid-friendly activities, free yoga classes (BYO yoga mats), food trucks, and more!

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The best part, though, is being able to just sit out in the sunshine or not so great in fog, in a beautiful part of the city and enjoying a day off. You can bring in a picnic (with certain limitations, of course) or reserve a picnic table ahead of time.

The venue itself is really beautiful, and located at 19th and Sloat in SF. The free music starts around 2 p.m. each Sunday and the season runs from June 16th to Aug. 18th. The SF Symphony, Psychedelic Furs, and Pink Martini are the ones I am interested in, but a day in Stern Grove, no matter who is playing is always a good day. Hope to see you there!

Event Round-Up: May 18th

We’re almost all the way into summer here in Walnut Creek! The kids will be out of school soon, and the days will keep getting longer and warmer, giving us ample opportunities to take advantage of some awesome Bay Area events.

Diablo Symphony – May 19th (Walnut Creek)

The Diablo Symphony presents Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony and Bach’s Double Violin Concerto tomorrow at the Lesher Center in Walnut Creek! You can get tickets at the door, preceding the 2 p.m. concert. The Symphony Orchestra will be joined by members of the San Ramon Valley High School orchestra for this performance!

Rooftop History Walking Tour – May 31st (San Francisco)

Real estate nerd alert! This sounds so interesting to me, and if you like rooftops with beautiful views, you’ll be amazed by which buildings in the city might have them. This is a really cool tour to take if you like history, as you’ll get into some of the more exclusive private buildings in SF. Tickets are just $35.

Art & Wine Festival – June 1st (Walnut Creek)

For the weekend of June 1st, you can take advantage of an awesome event right in our own backyard! Pair your wine and beer with food vendors, art, live music, a Kids Zone, and more! It’s time for the Walnut Creek Art & Wine Festival. More info here.

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Walnut Creek First Wednesdays – June 5th (Walnut Creek)

Did you miss out on last month’s First Wednesday celebration? Because they are a great time! You can make up for it by coming downtown on Weds., June 5th to take part in a small street fair right here in Walnut Creek. Get more info here – you won’t want to miss it!

Walnut Creek Uncorked – June 20th (Walnut Creek)

Sip, stroll, socialize. Walnut Creek’s Uncorked event is taking place on June 20th downtown! You can sip wines, eat local food, listen to live music, and just wander downtown with your wine. I’d recommend getting tickets in advance, as this event is popular every year!

The best breweries in the Bay Area

It’s always brewery-hunting season for some people, but the crowds really seem to pick up when Spring is in full bloom and the warm summer months approach. If a cold craft brew in the sunshine is your thing, you’ll want to see this list from TimeOut.com of the best breweries in San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley.

Almanac Brewery's bar area
Photograph: Mariko Reed (TimeOut.com)

Fort Point Beer: San Francisco

Fort Point Beer Company is known for its ales and is run by two brothers with local roots.

Novel Brewing Co.: Oakland

You can snag a book from the communal shelf at this brewery and sip on the Dust Jacket IPA in Oakland.

Cellarmaker Brewing Company: San Francisco

IPAs are beloved at Cellarmaker, and now they’ve opened a House of Pizza extension on Mission St. to complete a perfect combo.

Fieldwork Brewing Co.: Berkeley

Fieldwork now has locations in Berkeley, Napa, San Mateo, Monterey, Sacramento, and San Ramon and they produce more than 200 beers!

Rare Barrel
Timeout.com

The Rare Barrel: Berkeley

If you like sours, this is the place to be in the East Bay. Try the kimchee dumplings at the Berkeley tasting room on weekends!

Standard Deviant Brewing: San Francisco

Sports on the TV, unique beers, and a pinball machine? What more could you ask for from a brewery? Standard Deviant delivers.

Temescal Brewing: Oakland

You’ve definitely heard of this one – and probably tried their beer! They have a cozy outdoor beer garden and features food trucks on property for your eating needs.

Ale Industries: Oakland

This is Oakland’s biggest and oldest brewery, located in the Fruitvale neighborhood. It serves seasonal beers, live music, and allows outside food.

Almanac Beer Co.: San Francisco

Like Temescal in Oakland, you’ve definitely heard of – and tried – this Mission-based brewery. Also check out their huge new brewery and taproom in Alameda!

Seven Stills: San Francisco

Seven Stills has good craft beer, but also distills liquor from their beer! They can be found in the Outer Sunset, Bayview and Mission Bay – the latter has a dog-friendly beer garden.

Kristin’s note: on top of all these, I’d add 21st Amendment’s newer brewery and tasting room in San Rafael for excellent beer and friendly service!

Event Round-Up: April 20, 2019

The weather is heating up, and with it is the Bay Area event calendar! Usually we give you five, but since this is such a fun time of the year, we’ve given you a few bonuses to look out for. Let me know if you go to any of these so we can write about them in a future blog!

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Moonlit Walking Tour: San Francisco (May 1st)

You can take a 90-minute walking tour through one of San Francisco’s most famous – and infamous – neighborhoods. Start in the Tenderloin at 6:15 p.m., and your $20 ticket gets you an awesome tour and a whole new perspective. Tickets here.

Wanderlust: San Francisco (May 4th)

Wanderlust Festival, which brings teachers, experts, musicians, and creators for “transformational experiences” is coming to Golden Gate Park on the weekend of May 4th. Get more information here!

Cinco de Mayo Eve Pub Crawl: San Francisco (May 4th)

8 p.m. in Lower Nob Hill/Union Square. Be there, or be square. The night before Cinco de Mayo, you can get the festivities kicked off early with a themed pub crawl! Get tickets at this link.

SF Maritime Beer Fest: San Francisco (May 10th)

Okay, this one is really cool. You can get a $25 ticket for a really unique Beer Fest on a submarine at Fisherman’s Wharf! There will be music, craft brews, and some amazing views of the San Francisco Bay.

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Creek Cleanup Day: Walnut Creek (May 11th)

City and Friends of the Creek are making plans for the 30th Annual Creek Cleanup Day! This year’s event hops to top the 140 volunteers and 16 cubic yards of debris and vegetation that was removed in 2018. More details here.

Youth Art Show: Walnut Creek (thru May 15th)

The Center for Community Arts celebrates its youth artists in this show at Shadelands Art Center. This will include students from preschool up through teen classes. Over 100 artists! Opening reception is on Fri., Apr. 12th from 5:30-7:00 p.m., too.

Beginning Beekeeping: San Francisco (May 18th)

For $25, you can learn how to become a beekeeper! The class is designed for people with no experience in the field, and protective clothing will be provided. This sounds really interesting, especially with beekeeping becoming such an important part of the ecosystem!

Bedford Gallery Exhibit: Walnut Creek (thru June 23rd)

The newest Bedford Gallery exhibit, Tradition Interrupted, is on display downtown. It explores the methods used by artists to conflate contemporary ideas with traditional art and craft. Check it out! And remember that every first Tuesday at the gallery is free.

Best Hikes in the Bay! (UPDATED)

I love hiking. That’s probably why, over the years, I’ve given you all countless Road Trips blogs with hiking involved. I’ve also written about the best hikes near Walnut Creek, best hikes with a bar at the end, and my own take on the best hikes in San Francisco.

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What can I say? It’s habit. So, with Spring right around the corner and the sun starting to shine on our beautiful state, I have another hiking list for you, this time courtesy of TimeOut.com. They’ve listed their 9 favorite hikes in San Francisco, and who am I to argue?

  1. Lands End
  2. Bernal Heights Summit
  3. Glen Canyon Park
  4. Marin Headlands
  5. Redwood Regional Park
  6. Muir Woods
  7. Golden Gate Bridge
  8. The Presidio
  9. Angel Island
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As you can see, they were a little bit generous describing a few of those as “San Francisco hikes.” But they are all great choices, nonetheless! If you’re venturing out that way, I’d also suggest spending half a day doing the entire Dipsea Trail or the Steep Ravine Trail from Pantoll campgrounds to Stinson! You won’t regret it!