50 Things You Gotta do This Summer
Eat, play and explore this summer!
Fly a kite
Swing by Highline Kites’ solar-powered kite mobile at Cesar Chavez Park, before catching the wind on the Berkeley Marina. The kid-friendly Squeeky the Octopus ($18) requires no assembly and launches easily. highlinekites.com.
Have Fun, Fun, Fun
No band defines the California summer sound like the Beach Boys. And with Brian Wilson back after a 15-year hiatus, the 50th anniversary tour should be a blast. Greek Theatre, Berkeley, apeconcerts.com. June 1.
Reignite Recess Rivalries
Attempt to blast a red rubber ball across Rudgear Park during Kickball East Bay’s Thursday night games. Grab at least 11 friends or officemates to field a team, or sign up solo and make friends on the grass. After the games, players flock to Dan’s Irish Sports Bar for drink discounts and raucous games of flip cup. kickballeb.com.
Hike Under a Full Moon
See nocturnal animals and night blooms during a one-mile hike up Mount Wanda, under the glow of the rising moon. nps.gov/jomu. June 4, July 3, August 1 and 31
At this year’s Contra Costa Reading Festival, don’t miss Jonathan Franzen, the only living writer to land the cover of TIME magazine in the last decade. The author discusses autobiography and fiction writing. $12, guides.ccclib.org/srf. June 21
Don’t miss Venus’ passage across the sun on June 5. The next one won’t occur until 2117. Chabot Space & Science Center hosts a viewing party with telescopes and a simulcast inside the theater on the big screen. Stop by before sunset for the best views. chabotspace.org. June 5
Shriek on a Roller Coaster
Experience the tallest inversion west of the Mississippi on Six Flags Discovery Kingdom’s new 15-story, 62-miles-per-hour Superman Ultimate Flight coaster. Get on the ride faster than a speeding bullet with a flash pass, which saves your place in line until it’s your turn to ride. sixflags.com/discoverykingdom.
Do the Tiki Crawl
For the best tiki-themed bar crawl, start at BART–accessible Conga Lounge in Oakland for a Gilligan’s Island cocktail: light and coconut rums, banana liqueur, and pineapple and cranberry juices. congalounge.com. It’s less than a mile walk to Piedmont’s Kona Club, where specialties include the three-person Scorpion bowl drink and animatronic hula girl. konaclub.net. Take the 51A bus to Alameda, and it’s just a five-minute walk to Forbidden Island’s waterfalls, glowing puffer fish, and exotic libations, featuring fresh-squeezed juices and house-made syrups. forbiddenislandalameda.com.
Jazz Up Your Chinese
If crispy Peking roast duck isn’t global enough for you, stop by Walnut Creek’s Modern China Café on Saturdays, when the Afro-acid jazz ensemble Audiobraille plays on the patio. modernchinacafe.com.
Bike the Urban Wine Trail
Explore Oakland’s urban wine scene with East Bay Winery Bike Tours. Starting in Jack London Square, groups of eight to 10 take a five-hour tour from the Oakland estuary to the beach in Alameda. Meet winemakers, taste award-winning wines, and find out where they’re hiding those grapes. Bikes, helmets, and lunch are included, and the leaders’ utility bikes haul back your purchases. No need for spandex: Most people opt for fitted jeans and casual wear. $89, eastbaywinerybiketours.com.
Dine by the water
For brunch, order the baked huevos rancheros on Boca Nova’s patio, which overlooks the boats near Jack London Square. bocanova.com. Try Skates on the Bay’s 10-item raw bar at sunset, when the sun casts an orange glow over the Berkeley Marina. skatesonthebay.com. On Tuesdays, Lake Merritt’s Lake Chalet remains one of the best places to lounge on the deck, crack open a beer, and sink your teeth into carne asada tacos. thelakechalet.com.
Play Like the French
Learn the bocce-esque game of pétanque with Lamorinda Pétanque Club on nontournament Sundays, when the club welcomes beginners. Practice tossing the boules (hollow steel balls) closest to the cochonette (small wooden target ball) while avoiding rocks, trees, and other obstacles. lamorindapetanque.blogspot.com.
Lick a Margarita
Nothing says summer like popsicles. Or margaritas. Combining these two hot-weather treats are Sloshees, made-in-Oakland margarita popsicles packed with a full ounce of Jalisco blue agave tequila. Stash ’em in your freezer for a lazy sunny afternoon. Sold at several East Bay locations, including Draeger’s and Gene’s Fine Foods. sloshee.com.
Rev Your Engines
Create a cardboard race car sculpture with wheels, windows, flames, and decals at Walnut Creek’s Bedford Gallery. Cardburg 2012: the Super Track turns the gallery into a miniature speedway for high-speed remote control art cars. bedfordgallery.org.
Enjoy Opera al Fresco
Opera in the Park returns to Walnut Creek’s Civic Park on June 24, with classics from Il Trovatore, Carmen, and La Traviata. For a more intimate look, go to the rehearsal on June 10. festivalopera.org. June 10, 24
Drive to the Top of Mount Diablo
Whether you enter from North Gate Road or the South Gate entrance, you can make it a leisurely trip by stopping at Rock City to explore sandstone formations and caves. Or head straight up Summit Road, and look to the west for views of the Golden Gate Bridge, and, on a clear day, the crest of the Sierra Nevada to the east. parks.ca.gov.
Give Date Night an Intergalactic Spin
Every Friday and Saturday in July and August, Chabot Space & Science Center screens a different sci-fi movie, from 2001: A Space Odyssey to Wall-E. For $25, the center will throw in dinner, admission to the museum, stargazing, and a planetarium show. chabotspace.org.
Guzzle a local brew
Don’t miss Linden Street Brewery’s new taproom at the Port of Oakland, where pigs are roasted every third Sunday of the month through October. lindenbeer.com. In Martinez, E. J. Phair’s new brewery doubles as a performance venue, welcoming live music every Saturday night. ejphair.com. And sample Ale Industries’ signature Orange Kush at its Concord taproom during First Saturdays, featuring live music, street food, and crafts from local artists. aleindustries.com.
Pick up a fishing license, bait and tackle, and a boat at Lake Del Valle’s marina. All you’ll need is a pole to start reeling in trout and bass. ebparks.org/parks/del_valle.
Root for the Pigs
Alameda County Fair celebrates 100 years, with a downtown parade, a new concert format, and an exhibit of memorabilia. But it will also retain the old-fashioned fun we’ve come to love, from Ferris wheels to funnel cakes to Alaskan pig racing: Ten-week-old piglets with numbered jerseys and names like “Darth Oinker” and “Al Pigone” that scurry around a small racetrack to the gleeful cheers of children. alamedacountyfair.com. June 20–July 8
Stroll the Garden
For one month, the Ruth Bancroft Garden transforms into an outdoor sculpture exhibition. Go during the preview party on June 15 to mingle with the artists. ruthbancroftgarden.org. June 15–July 14
Charter a Vessel
Try your hand at helming a seaworthy vessel during Lake Merritt Boating Center’s Summer Sailstice. On June 23, the center will offer free rowboat rentals. oaklandnet.com. June 23
Get Into the Swing
Don’t miss Jack Pollard’s Swing Soiree during Clayton’s Concerts in the Grove. Backed by his nine-piece precision band, the baritone covers favorites from Frank Sinatra to James Brown. For dinner, run over to Moresi’s Chophouse, where the food is available for takeout. ci.clayton.ca.us, moresischophouse.com. June 23
Catch an Andy Samberg Flick
In 2007, Andy Samberg told us that his earliest comic inspirations were the films of former SNL star Adam Sandler. Now, Samberg gets to play Sandler’s son in the R-rated comedy That’s My Boy, in theaters June 15. In August, Samberg costars in the indie rom-com Celeste and Jesse Forever, which earned raves at Sundance.
Go on Safari
Pack a tent for the Oakland Zoo’s sundown safari, which includes behind-the-scenes looks at feeding preparations, animal ambassadors, and interactive storytelling by the fire before camping overnight in the meadow. $85, oaklandzoo.org.
July 14, 21, and 28; August 4 and 11
Ditch Stadium Grub
If you go to one baseball game this season, schedule it during the Coliseum’s Bay Area BBQ Championship and Beerfest. During the day, tong-wielding pros dish out grilled meats, and then Beerfest kicks off two hours before first pitch. Spring for the $12 tasting package, and you’ll get a souvenir mug and three tickets to sample from more than 30 microbreweries. bayareabbq.org, oakland.athletics.mlb.com. July 7
Celebrate Bastille Day
Celebrate French independence with a special menu at Chevalier in the city of Lafayette, which was named for the popular general and captain of the National Guard of Paris. chevalierrestaurant.com. July 14
Sip Wine and See a Music Legend
Concerts don’t get any classier than the outdoor series at Wente Vineyards. This summer’s lineup includes Sheryl Crow (July 23), Diana Krall (August 15), and Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers (August 29). We’re getting front-row seats to hear East Bay native John Fogerty tear through his Creedence Clearwater Revival hits on August 1. wentevineyards.com/concerts.
Share a Sundae
Enlist a friend to help you conquer the black and tan sundae (vanilla and toasted almond ice cream with hot fudge and caramel), or get adventurous with the ube or avocado flavors at any of Loard’s Ice Cream’s 16 East Bay
Watch the Sky Explode
Livermore is filling the void caused by San Ramon’s cancellation of its Fourth of July festivities by lighting up the skies over Las Positas College. livermorefireworks.org. July 4
Rock Concert-Ready Fashions
Blackhawk Plaza still holds its summer concerts on Fridays from July 6 to August 24, but this year, style gets into the mix, with fashion shows by Apricot Lane. Snap up your favorite concert looks (think chic maxi dresses and on-trend cropped tees) for the next week. shopblackhawkplaza.com.
Slurp a Boozy Milk Shake
Rudy’s Can’t Fail Café spikes milk shakes such as its classic Shakin’ Jesse, a combo of
Guinness, chocolate ice cream, and espresso. iamrudy.com.
Grab a Picnic
Nab provisions from Berkeley’s Summer Kitchen Bake Shop, especially the summer corn salad, heirloom tomato panzanella, and a new favorite: pulled pork slathered in barbecue sauce and sandwiched with tangy coleslaw inside a soft Acme roll. summerkitchenbakeshop.com.
Avoid the art crowds
Avoid Oakland’s hectic First Fridays and join Art Murmur on Saturday. The strolls include 18 galleries and seven mixed-use venues, including Classic Cars West, a showroom with rotating exhibits. Meet at Farley’s Café at 2 p.m. on the third Saturday of the month, when artists lead tours of local galleries. oaklandartmurmur.org.
Sip a Market Cocktail
From 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. every Saturday, head to Lakeshore Avenue’s new Easy Lounge for the farmers market cocktail menu, which features an eclectic mix of ingredients: Think unconventional choices like radishes, fennel, and avocado. easy510.com.
Light Up the Racetracks
Every other Friday night, Livermore’s Umigo dims the lights and fires up strobe lights and dance music for a party atmosphere on the indoor go-kart tracks. umigoracing.com.
Catch a Mind-Blowing Movie
Long before The Matrix’s red pill of truth, Berkeley resident Philip K. Dick was second to none in writing head-spinning science fiction stories that connected to the contemporary world. Much of Dick’s work has been successfully adapted into movies (Minority Report, A Scanner Darkly, Blade Runner), others not so much (Nicolas Cage’s Next). We’re psyched that the classic We Can Remember It for You Wholesale is getting a reboot as Total Recall on August 3. The first time this story was filmed, it became a campy vehicle for a former Golden State Governor named Ah-nuld. Let’s hope this new version with Colin Farrell stays truer to Dick’s creepy-prescient take on technology and individual identity.
Toss Some Steel
Learn how to horseshoe with the Tri-Valley chapter of the Northern California Horseshoe Pitchers Association, which meets at the Alameda County Fairgrounds clay pits. Once you’ve mastered the technique, head to the horseshoe pits at Waterfront Park in Martinez for unstructured play. nchpa.com, cityofmartinez.org.
Discover hidden volcanic domes in the Marsh Creek–Morgan Territory area on a two-mile hike with Save Mount Diablo. You’ll learn about volcanic rock formations, fascinating geology, and a magma-filled history. Reservations required, savemountdiablo.org. July 29
After you’ve ogled the classic cars and hot rods at Danville’s Hot Summer Nights, check out James Jungle Adventures’ kid-friendly reptiles, including a 100-pound tortoise named “Tank.” danvillehotsummernightscarshow.com. August 16
Play Follow the Leader
For an easy all-ages hike, set out with an East Bay Parks naturalist at twilight, when owls and coyotes are frequently spotted on the trails on Brushy Peak. To get to the top of the mountain, take a $30 tour with Livermore Area Recreation and Park District. Rangers drive vans into the closed area, then lead four-hour hikes through sandstone rock formations and wind caves for views of the Sierra Nevada and soaring golden eagles. ebparks.org/parks/brushy_peak, larpd.dst.ca.us.
Take a BBQ tour of the USA at two new down-home joints. Tanya Holland's B-Side BBQ in Oakland dishes out Texas-style brisket, jerk-spiced ribs, and smoked chicken. bsidebbq.com. Livermore’s Sauced BBQ & Spirits has Carolina pulled pork and St. Louis–cut spare ribs, with your choice of sweet, tangy, or spicy sauce—plus whiskey on tap. saucedbbqandspirits.com.
During That Bar’s dueling piano nights, you’re encouraged to belt out your favorite hits along with the performers. Wednesdays through Saturdays, thatbardanville.com.
Celebrate Your Two-Wheeled Transport
Dust the cobwebs off your bike, and head to Jack London Square’s Pedalfest for pedal-powered spin art, music, and ice-cream stations. pedalfestjacklondon.com. August 18
Grab a girlfriend and pound the pavement on a three- to five-mile loop through downtown Walnut Creek and nearby trails. Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m., lululemon.com.
Get your passport stamped aboard the restored SS Red Oak Victory, which has returned home to the Richmond shipyards, where it was built during WWII. Throughout the summer, the vessel hosts a classic movie series with WWII–era films. ssredoakvictory.com.
Party Like It’s 1969
Catch Stevie Wonder, Neil Young, Norah Jones, Metallica, and 50 other bands in Golden Gate Park at the Outside Lands Music Festival. sfoutsidelands.com. August 10–12
The new Telegraph café offers drool-worthy house-made sausages (try the whiskey fennel) and a great outdoor beer garden. Just look for the sign that says “Sausage.” telegraphoakland.com.
Dine in John Muir’s Orchard
Dress up for Fresh Aire Affaire, an evening dinner and auction at John Muir National Historic Site’s Victorian estate. $150, muirheritagelandtrust.org. August 18
Enjoy Art After Dark
On the final Friday of each month, Oakland Museum of California hosts Summer Nights, featuring ’60s hits and special exhibits and programs. Don’t miss the classic 1968 film screenings under the stars in Oak Street Plaza. museumca.org.