To-do list in California in July

There’s myriad things to do in California all year round, from strolling along Hollywood Boulevard to riding a street car through San Francisco, but July is arguably the best month to visit this vibrant state. When deciding on places to go in California, each of the state’s famed cities hosts a range of unforgettable events in July.

From carefree beach parties and vibrant festivals, to outdoor cinemas, arts events and not forgetting the incredible 4th July celebrations, you’ll be spoilt for choice of California attractions. If you’re wondering what to do in California during July, we’ve hand-picked some of the best events taking place at the height of summer in Cali.

Los Angeles

US Open of Surfing – Huntington Beach
The last Saturday in July kicks off the US Open of Surfing, one of the largest action sports festivals in the US. The world’s finest surfers, skaters and BMXers descend on LA for nine days of competitions. Expect gnarly displays of skill, daring and gravity-defying stunts. Extreme sports enthusiasts from across the US and worldwide flock to the beach to witness a piece of the action for themselves. 

Pageant of the Masters
One of the most unique theatrical productions in the world, the Pageant of the Masters takes place on the Festival of Arts grounds every evening for three weeks in July. Real people are transformed into life-sized recreations of famous works of art before your eyes, all accompanied by a live orchestra and a narrator who guides the audience through the story of each picture. 

Rooftop Cinema Club
Where better to catch a classic movie than in the city of angels? Spend a day soaking up Hollywood culture, then head to the rooftops for an evening of film. The rooftop cinema club takes place throughout the summer months, with various screenings of new releases, cult favourites and family friendly movies.

San Diego

Athenaeum Music & Arts Library Summer Festival
Now a cherished tradition in San Diego, the Summer Arts Festival features pianist Gustavo Romero. Each year he performs the complete repertoire of a specific composer, from Bach and Brahms to Mozart, Liszt and Schumann. He plays entirely from memory, sharing the full range of their artistry. The event has been running for 20 years, and long may it continue. 

Summer Movies in the Park 
A friendly, free and fun event to enjoy with the whole family. Head to any of the parks listed as showing summer movies as evening sets in, and get comfy on the grass in time for the start of the film. The event series began in 2007, to give local residents a reason to visit their local parks in a safe environment during the evening. Now a mainstay in the summer calendar, and not to be missed for any movie lover. 

Comic Con
Comic book nerds of the world unite at Comic Con San Diego. This now infamous event sees fans of Marvel, DC and super heroes from the big screen and classic comics come together for an exhilarating and unforgettable experience. Although the event is widely known for the incredible outfits attendees often spend months or even years preparing, there are also award shows, exhibitions and much more. 

Imperial Beach Sun and Sea Festival
Proudly proclaiming to be ‘the original sandcastle competition’, the Sun and Sea Festival features world-class sandcastle sculptors showcasing their crafts on the beach. Kids can compete in their own Kids ‘n Kastles competition. Every year has a theme (this year it’s superheroes), and there’s also a parade and a pancake breakfast – the perfect family event.

San Francisco

Stern Grove Festival
With free concerts taking place every Sunday from mid-June until mid-August, Stern Grove Festival is committed to providing admission-free access to a diverse range of performing arts. The event has been running since 1938, and every year sees a stellar line up of musicians, dancers, theatrics and more.

SF Jazz Summer Sessions
From classic to contemporary and unknown to cult names in jazz music, San Francisco Summer Sessions has something for everyone. Lovers of jazz will be spoilt for choice at this eclectic and enthralling series of events.  

Bay Area Playwrights Festival
Comparable to the Edinburgh Fringe festival in Scotland, the Bay Area Playwrights Festival showcases developing plays and up-and-coming talents who have gone on to shine on stages around the world, and win acclaimed theatre awards. See tomorrow’s talent performing today during July in San Francisco.

4th July Celebrations

Celebrate Independence Day across California, with parades, firework displays and concerts. 

San Francisco 
The Bay area puts on an impressive firework display every year on 4th July, with fireworks set off from two locations – the end of Municipal Pier, and from barges north of Pier 39. The show starts at 9.30, but you’ll need to come down early to get a good spot as it attracts tens of thousands of people every year. 

Almeda Fourth of July Parade
Almeda parade is one of the longest parades in the nation, spanning a whopping 3.3 miles! There’s a new theme each year, and participants spend the whole year preparing their floats, costumes and decorations. The parade starts bright and early at 9.00am, so find a good spot on the route to make the most of the amazing atmosphere. 

Lake Tahoe – Lights on the Lake
The Lights on the Lake firework display has a famed reputation among Americans. Those holidaying during 4th July make a beeline to the lake for its patriotic display. The reflection of the fireworks in the lake’s glassy surface in something truly special. 

4th July Block Party Los Angeles
Head to Grand Park in Los Angeles on 4th July for a free, family friendly block party. Picnic on the lawn while live music and performances take place, then head to Downtown Los Angeles for an incredible light and pyrotechnic show at sunset.

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