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The Best Summer Events In The Bay On A Budget

Picture of Neha Pearce
Updated: 28 September 2016
Summer is fast approaching and that means festivals and concerts galore, which can also translate to high spending. Luckily, there are plenty of summer events to enjoy without breaking the bank. Here are the top ways you can enjoy festival season on a budget.

Urban Air Market Hayes Valley

Come out to Patricia’s Green at Octavia Street and Hayes in San Francisco on May 1st to enjoy the largest outdoor design festival in the country. Urban Air Market features more than 100 independent designers of fashion, home goods, body products, accessories, and art devoted to sustainable, original products – and admission is free.

Patricia’s Green, Octavia Street, San Francisco, CA, USA +1 415 391 2000

Waterfront Flicks

Hot summer days give way to cool summer nights in the Bay, so head down to Ferry Lawn by Jack London Square to enjoy outdoor movies. Grab food at one of the nearby restaurants or bring snacks from home, and don’t forget chairs, sleeping bags, and blankets for optimum comfort. The festivities begin around 8:00pm and the screening begins at sundown around 9:00. The screenings program is as follows: Jurassic World on June 9th, The Devil Wears Prada on June 23rd, Ghostbusters on July 7th, Star Wars: The Force Awakens on July 21st, East Side Sushi on August 4th, and The Pursuit of Happyness on August 18th. Many cities host outdoor summer film screenings, so check your parks department website for screenings closer to you.

Ferry Lawn, San Francisco Bay Trail, Oakland, CA, USA

Swanton Berry Farm

Berry picking. Although this fun summer activity is a bit of a drive, whether you go to Swanton Berry Farm’s Davenport or Pescadero location, your patience will be rewarded with the joy of picking fresh from the farm organic strawberries, ollalieberries available in mid-June, and blackberries in mid-July.  Unlike most u-pick experiences, Swanton works on the honor system with no admission fee and a pay-per-pound of berries picked policy. Bring cash to take advantage of delectable soups, cakes, jams, ciders, and other treats at the farm stand, and bring a picnic to enjoy with friends and family to get the most of the experience.

Swanton Berry Farm –U-Pick Coastways Ranch, -698, 640 Cabrillo Highway, Pescadero, CA, USA

Swanton Berry Farm, 158, 240 Swanton Road, Davenport, CA, USA

Berkeley Kite Festival

Don’t miss Berkeley’s annual Kite Festival at César Chávez Park at the Berkeley Marina on July 30 and 31st from 10:00 to 6:00. Take part in free kite making, kite flying lessons, and Japanese-style Rokkaku kite battles. Enjoy arts and craft booths for all ages, food, music, and jumbo kites for just the price of parking. Parking is available at the Marina or at Golden Gate Fields for $15.

César Chávez Park, 11 Spinnaker Way, Berkeley, CA, USA +1 510 981 6700

Fillmore Jazz Festival

The theme for 2016’s annual free Fillmore Jazz Festival is (re)discovery, so come this 4th of July weekend to historic Fillmore Street to discover new music and re-unite with old friends. The giant 12-block festival of Fillmore Street between Jackson and Eddy features old-school jazz and new sounds as well as everything from Cajun food to veggie corndogs. Enjoy beer and wine gardens as well as many craft vendors. Be sure to get here early to avoid the long search for parking.

The Fillmore Center, 1475 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA, USA +1 415 921 1969

Stern Grove Festival

Pack up a picnic, a bottle of wine, and some blankets to attend one of many free concerts put on at the Stern Grove Festival every summer. This outdoor concert venue among the trees has been around since 1938, and it is not to be missed. The festivities start off on June 19th with The Big Picnic, a benefit concert for the venue starring Grammy award nominee Janelle Monáe, and continue weekly every Sunday at 2:00 until August 21.

Sigmund Stern Recreation Grove, Sloat Boulevard, San Francisco, CA, USA +1 415 242 5200

Alameda County Fair

The Alameda County Fair is in town from June 15 up until its 4th of July Fireworks spectacular. Re-live your childhood at the fair with ferris wheel rides, pig races, livestock showings, daily contests, all your favorite carnival foods, extreme action sports, monster trucks, face-painting, beer tastings, live entertainment and music. Discounted pre-sale tickets are available online: $10 for adults 13 to 61, $8 for kids 6 to 12 and seniors 62 and up, or you can pick up tickets at the gate for $2 more than pre-sale price. Parking is available at the fairgrounds for $10.

Alameda County Fairgrounds, 4501 Pleasanton Avenue, Pleasanton, CA, USA +1 925 426 7600

San Francisco Street Food Festival

The only down-side to the delicious culinary variety available in San Francisco is there just simply is not enough time to try everything, which is why you can’t miss free entry to the eighth annual San Francisco Street Food Festival this August. Experience a huge array of the best of San Francisco food, live cooking demos, and live music sprawled out on Pier 70. Free shuttles are available to take you from the Civic Center, the Ferry Building, and from La Cocina to the pier. Check their website for alternative ways of getting to the festival.

Ferry Building, 1 Sausalito, San Francisco, CA, USA

La Cocina, 2948 Folsom Street, San Francisco, CA, USA +1 415 824 2729

Fremont Festival of the Arts

The Fremont Festival of the Arts, centered at Walnut Avenue and Paseo Padre Parkway, is the largest outdoor art festival in the Bay, hosting over 700 artisan booths, specialty food stalls, three stages for live music, and games and activities for kids. Admission is free, and the event takes place on August 6 and 7; don’t forget to bring cash.

Paseo Padre Parkway and Walnut Avenue, Fremont, CA, USA

By Neha Pearce