Fall is a popular time for food festivals all around the Golden State, so this edition will focus on some current event offerings that celebrate the state’s varied and abundant food stuffs — which includes beer and wine, of course!
If enjoying an area’s extraordinary restaurants is an important part of your vacation plans, you may want to check out this list and plan your visit to coincide with a specific area’s “restaurant week” celebration instead of a food festival — they often offer some great deals! With a quick perusal of the list, it looks like Sacramento, San Diego and the Inland Empire have restaurant week events on their fall calendar of events.
September is “California Wine Month” (2016 is the 12th year of the formal celebration), and many of the state’s wineries — which likely numbers near 4,000 by now — host fun events to celebrate, some of which are listed on the Wine Institute’s California wine-focused website here.
Below you will find a sampling of some other fun fall events in California. If you’re interested in California current events for a different season, please see the “Related Posts” links at the bottom of this article.
Oprah.com declared the Mendocino Beer, Wine and Mushroom Festival “one of the six best food festivals” in the U.S., but then it’s pretty hard to go wrong with those ingredients! There’s a fun line-up of unique events — meals, tastings, classes and adventures — scheduled at various Mendocino County locations throughout November 2016. (mendocino.com/mendocino-wine-mushroom-festival.html)
Shasta & Cascades
The City of Paradise hosts the annual Johnny Appleseed Days festival on October 1 & 2, 2016, and this has a special place in our heart because it’s actually the state’s oldest harvest festival. It didn’t always recognize the American folk hero who traveled and encouraged settlers to plant apple orchards (aka John Chapman), but Paradise’s first harvest festival was held in 1888. This year’s event runs Saturday, 10am to 5pm, and Sunday, 10am to 4pm, which will also give you plenty of time to just relax and enjoy the area’s stunning scenery. (paradisechamber.com/johnny-appleseed-days)
Fall in Wine Country is a busy time, when harvest and “crush” celebratory events abound at wineries and restaurants throughout Napa and Sonoma Counties. In addition, the 2016 Sonoma County Harvest Fair runs September 30 through October 2 (harvestfair.org), and Cornerstone Cellars in Yountville hosts its Harvest Party on November 23, 2016 (visitnapavalley.com/event/detail/441968100/Harvest_Party) — both of which will no doubt be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. A tip that’s good for any season you visit Wine Country: As you research wineries, be sure to check the various websites’ “Events” tabs (if there is one) to see what might be on offer during your trip’s timeframe.
San Francisco Bay Area
There’s ALWAYS something foodie-related happening in San Francisco! First up, the season starts off on a sweet note with the Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival, September 10 & 11, 2016 (ghirardelli.com/chocolatefestival). (If you’re a chocolate lover, be sure to check out the recently updated information regarding the various San Francisco Chocolate festivals and salons, one of which is held in the fall at Fort Mason.) The following month, on October 8 & 9, 2016, the World Veg Fest rolls into town. (sponseasy.com/p/17th-annual-world-veg-festival) Last but definitely not least, mark your calendars for Half Moon Bay’s Pumpkin Festival on October 15 & 16, 2016. (pumpkinfest.miramarevents.com/)
We recently published a list of all the 2016 Central Coast food and wine festivals we could find (in large part for our own reference, truth be told, since it’s one of our favorite California areas to visit and explore), but the “big one” festival-wise in this area, Sunset Magazine’s Savor the Central Coast, will not be held in 2016. I have my eye on the Avocado and Margarita Festival in Morro Bay on September 10 & 11, 2016, but to each his/her own. (facebook.com/avomargfestival)
Lodi is a wonderful, laid-back California wine region, and 2016 marks the 82nd year for their annual Grape and Harvest Festival, held this year on September 15-18, 2016. (grapefestival.com) Also, Stockton’s Beer Week runs September 16-25, 2016, where fun will likely be had by all. (visitstockton.org/dining/stockton-beer-week)
Sierras & Gold Country
Amador County’s Big Crush Harvest Festival is October 1 & 2, 2016, and it’s one of our favorite fall events in California. Those hills are so pretty in the fall! Live music and tasty pairings should bring a bit of “chill” to the busy crush vibe. (amadorwine.com/event/big-crush-harvest-festival/) Also, you may have noticed how we’re rather fond of wineries in the state’s historic Gold Country area, and there’s a “grape stomp” event in Murphy’s on October 1, 2016, that sounds like a lot of fun. Make a weekend of it if you can! (calaverasgrapestomp.com)
LA’s food festivals tend to occur during the summer months, but the 32nd Abbot Kinney Festival will be held in Venice on September 25, 2016. (abbotkinney.org/) Also, while California chefs love to celebrate the Pacific Ocean’s bounty of seafood, two LA area beach towns celebrate an Atlantic Ocean treat during the fall. The Original Long Beach Lobster Festival in San Pedro runs September 9-11, 2016 (originallobsterfestival.com/), and Redondo Beach holds their delectable lobster event — now in it’s 21st year — September 23-25, 2016. (lobsterfestival.com) If you’re headed to the either of the lobster festivals, you may also want to check out the Bavarian fun at what USA Today called “one of the best Oktoberfests in the world!” which is held in nearby Torrance and runs September 9 through October 29, 2016 this year. (alpinevillagecenter.com/oktoberfest/)
Irvine’s popular Global Village Festival will be held on September 24, 2016, and it’s a great place to sample the local cuisine. (legacy.cityofirvine.org/globalvillage) Also, you might say Oktoberfest is “kind of a big deal” in Huntington Beach. It runs September 11 through October 30, 2016, and definitely looks like a fun place to celebrate the season! (oldworld.ws/oktoberfest-orange-county.html)
Inland Empire & Deserts
Palm Springs Modernism Fall Season kicks off October 21-23, 2016, and tickets for that event go on sale August 1. It’s highly likely to sell out. Tickets for the big event — Modernism Week, itself, which will run February 16-26, 2017 — go on sale November 1, 2016. That will definitely sell out… and quickly. Mark you calendar now if you want to go! (modernismweek.com/)
The hot harvest season kicks off with the Little Italy FESTA! on October 9, 2016 (littleitalysd.com/events/little-italy-festa/), but the 13th Annual San Diego Food & Wine Festival — held this year November 13-20, 2016 — is definitely the big dog on the block. (sandiegowineclassic.com)
Also, mark you calendar for San Diego Beer Week, November 4-13, 2016. (www.sdbw.org/)
If you’re looking for events in a particular California city or area, you may want to send an inquiry email to the local visitor’s bureau in the city where you plan to spend your California vacation, holiday or weekend getaway. Here is a list of the convention and visitor’s bureaus for some of the state’s major tourist destinations to get you started. Another idea: if you’re already at your destination, stop in the local visitor’s center. Here’s a list of the state-run tourism information centers, but vacation and getaway destinations around the state — big and small — often staff their own on-site visitor information centers in addition to the information available on their websites.
Photo celebrating wine and the sun by OmarG! via flickr (Creative Commons); Photo of Napa fall day by James Dalsa via flickr (Creative Commons); Photo of Dinner at the Cracked Crab in Pismo Beach by emdot via flickr (Creative Commons); Photo of Oktoberfest celebration at Alpine Village near Torrance, CA by Ray Smith via flickr (Creative Commons); Photo of Palm Springs Modernism by Megan Petty via flickr (Creative Commons)
Note: Information in this article was accurate
when it was published, but hours, prices, etc.
change constantly. Please confirm details
with local contacts before traveling.