Event Round-Up: Mar. 14, 2020

Spring has nearly sprung around Walnut Creek, and though I’m so excited for the Open Space to bloom, I am hoping we have a good amount of rain in March! This can be a great time of year to go exploring – here are some fun events to check out for the next few weeks in and around Walnut Creek.

The Real Irish Comedy Fest at the Lesher Center – Mar. 15 (Walnut Creek)

Join comedians and performers at the Lesher Center for a gut-busting Irish-themed comedy show before the official St. Patty’s Day celebrations take shape. Tickets as low as $25.

St. Patrick’s Day Bands and Corned Beef at Norm’s Place – Mar. 17 (Danville)

Live bands. Green beer. Guinness. And hundreds of pounds of corned beef and cabbage! It may not smell great, but that’s going to be a darn good, tasty time at Norm’s Place in Danville! More info here.

Belgian Beer Tasting at Bierhause – Mar. 18 (Walnut Creek)

Bierhaus’ first tasting was a sold-out success! Join them on Mar. 18 to learn about the world of Belgian beer. A $20 tasting fee gets you a free drink and huge discounts. The event takes place from 6-7:30 p.m.

Sports Basement BrewFest at the Presidio – Mar. 28 (San Francisco)

Speaking of beer, you don’t want to miss this huge brewery blow-out at the Sports Basement in the Presidio. You can’t beat the locale, and you get to try beers from a ton of great craft breweries! Get more info here.

Easter at the Garden – Apr. 12 (Walnut Creek)

Bring the kids to the Ruth Bancroft Gardens for Easter activities! This will include an easter egg scavenger hunt and other festivities! Tickets are only $8-10 right now.


Road Trips: MoMa

I love going to the museums in San Francisco, and recently I went to the Museum of Modern Art (better known as the MoMa) for a new exhibit with a couple of girlfriends. It was the opening event for members only and they allow you to invite a couple of friends. Entrance was free, but the food and cocktails were not – average price for each was about $12, but they also had a DJ, and of course a cool place to explore.

The nice thing about the member-only events is that you can browse the entire museum while also taking part in the festivities. I didn’t really like the featured exhibit, “Soft Power.” It didn’t leave a very big impression on me and I thought the art was too “out there.” There were a few pieces that I liked – primarily the ones I took pictures of and that are shown here was what I liked. Overall, it was dark and not really my thing.

There is an ongoing exhibit called “The Chronicles of SF,” which had me mesmerized as we watched it move in their big hall with seating. I also like the Yves Klein painting of a blue color he created. It was great to hang out with some friends and what seeing what MoMa does with all their opening exhibits makes me want to become a member.

Best camping spots near San Francisco

It seems like I’m coming up with one of these blogs every Fall, and rightfully so – it’s a gorgeous time of year to get outside in the Bay Area and have a campfire, pitch a tent, and take in the beautiful nature that surrounds us.

Today, I’m re-visiting this TimeOut.com list and pulling out five campsites that I think are worth your time while the weather is still nice. Read below and let me know if I missed any!

Kirby Cove Camp – Golden Gate Recreation Area

Just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, you can settle into a very private campsite with astonishing waterfront views of the city. Bonuses: You’re walking distance to the beach and a picnic area.

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East Bay Camp – Angel Island State Park

Angel Island is a quick ferry ride from Pier 41 or from Tiburon. There are 11 sites, and they may be a bit of a hike from your landing, but nowhere else can you get 180-degree views of the East Bay hills or San Francisco.

White Gulch Beach – Tomales Bay

You can’t beat kayaking into a campsite along the shoreline of Tomales Bay. This specific site is protected from the wind as its back in a cove, and you might see a ton of wildlife!

Steep Ravine Campground – Mt. Tamalpais State Park

This is a bit less rugged, considering you can book a rustic cabin here that overlooks the Pacific. There are normal camping options, too, and you’re just steps away from the gorgeous Steep Ravine Trail.

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Sempervirens – Big Basin Redwoods State Park

There are few settings more beautiful to camp in than under the redwoods, which tower over this state park. You can pull your car right up to the highway here and enjoy modern sites with picnic tables and fire rings.

Road Trips: Beach Blanket Babylon

I’m very sad to report that, if you haven’t already heard, the world-famous Beach Blanket Babylon will officially close it doors on December 31st in San Francisco. Beach Blanket Babylon is a musical revue that’s been playing shows in North Beach for 45 years.

The pop culture and political satire song-and-dance show has been treating audiences to hilarious routines since 1974, but they will play their final show on New Year’s Eve this year. I was able to squeeze one more show in this year before it shuts down, and I’m so glad I did!

We went and enjoyed drinks while watching the hilarious performances on stage, complete with all the famous custom-made hats that are larger than life! It will be really sad to lose this outrageous aspect of San Francisco’s soul, and hopefully, they will find a way to keep the tradition and spirit of the show going long after, or create something new!

I had a friend in town on business who had never seen the show, so we met up before and had dinner at Soto Mare which is famous for “The Best Damn Crab Cioppino,” and it is damn good! We ordered it and each had a cup of their clam chowder because the people sitting next to us ordered it and we could smell its delicious goodness and our mouths began to water. There is a long history of this venue and the restaurant – a great way to spend an evening in SF, or make a date of it and grab a hotel for the night. We then walked a couple of blocks to the Beach Blanket Babylon venue. Tickets are going fast, so book now or forever miss out on this iconic SF show!

You can learn more about the performances and buy tickets on the website here.

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!