By Dave Fountinelle | dave@fresnoflyer.com

California’s economy will officially re-open on June 15th. This means doing away with the state-imposed mask restrictions for businesses, as well as the phased re-opening of individual counties. However, while the restrictions lift, Governor Newsom has declared that California’s state of emergency will remain in effect. This is to allow for the resources the state still needs to deal with the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, for thousands of the state’s small business owners struggling to survive lockdowns, restrictions, and bearing the financial burdens of complying with regulations, re-opening means finally returning to “business as usual.” 

The return begins by reconnecting with the millions of Californians who have been anxiously awaiting the return of concerts, festivals, bars & nightclubs, sporting events, dine-in restaurants, going out to the movies, and so on. The good news is California is a big, beautiful state, with some of the best destinations in the world for anyone looking to fill their post-pandemic itinerary with as many fun activities as they can. Here is just a small list of the many amazing travel spots and events taking place all over the state to get your summer started right!

Day Trip Festival 2021July 3rd & 4thLA Waterfront, Berth 46

Home to the inaugural Day Trip Festival, Berth 46 is Insomniac’s brand-new waterfront venue in LA County. Featuring 360-degree views of Cabrillo Beach and San Pedro Bay, the Port of Los Angeles Outer Harbor is an ideal spot for an oceanfront musical experience. To prove this point, Berth 46 is hosting a 2-day festival on 4th of July weekend, featuring some of the top DJs and electronic artists from around the world. Included in the lineup are AC Slater, Diplo, Chromeo, Art Bat, Doc Martin, Hint of Lavender, Meduza, Noizu, Omnom, Sidepiece, Dombresky, Sofi Tukker, Wax Motif and many more. The entire event will be livestreamed as well. 

There is currently a waitlist for tickets, so registering early is strongly recommended. For more info, including waitlist registration, visit https://www.daytripfest.com/

Northern Nights 2021July 16th-18thCook’s Valley Campground, Piercy

Connecting music and nature, Northern Nights Music Festival is one of the most sought-after events held at Cook’s Valley Campground in Northern California. Promoted as a music and arts, camping, yoga and cannabis retreat, the festival features a varied lineup of primarily electronic artists. Still a small festival by industry standards, Northern Lights tops out at 6,000 attendees. The selective attendee limit and festival grounds play a large role in Northern Nights success. The campgrounds are home to swimming holes and the largest Redwood grove in the nation where camping is allowed. The lineup is still TBA, but with past headliners including Beats Antique, Zhu, Black Star, Emancipator, and Living Legends, festival attendees can expect world class dance and electronic beats providing the soundtrack for 2 days of celebration among Northern California’s breathtaking redwoods. 

For more information, including lineup announcement, visit https://www.northernnights.org/

Stilldream Festival 2021June 17th-21st – Summer Solstice, Belden

For 20 years, Stilldream has curated incredible lineups, bringing together artists from all regions of our planet and molding them into the fabric of a weekend getaway from the default world. Stilldream has been the breeding ground for electronic music experimentation and exploration. From its early roots in Techno, House, and Trance to its ever-evolving tastes in Dubstep, Bass music, and live music. Throughout the years, the Dreams musical journey has been ever fluid, embracing and helping forge the next wave of music and nourishing the next round of talented artists. All while continuing to honor their roots and pay homage to those that have led them all to this point. 

This year promises to be no different. Located in the evergreen beauty of Belden, the Stilldream Festival is the perfect mix of energetic music, wild celebration, and picturesque natural surroundings that embody the California summer music festival experience.

Country Summer Music FestivalJune 18th-20th – Sonoma County Fairgrounds, Santa Rosa

The Country Summer Music Festival is both northern California’s biggest country music festival and Sonoma County’s biggest party. In 2019, Country Summer attracted more than 30,000 fans representing five countries. Customers who are holding onto their tickets from 2020, waiting for 2021 are already set. Their tickets have been updated to the new dates and are available for download using the link found in their original confirmation email. The lineup for Friday, June 18: Kelsea Ballerini, Russell Dickerson, Rodney Atkins, Travis Denning, and Adam Doleac. Saturday, June 19: Eric Church, Tracy Lawrence, LOCASH, Parker McCollum, and Danielle Bradbery. The final lineup Sunday, June 20: Chris Young, Justin Moore, Scotty McCreery, and RaeLynn. 

For tickets and info, visit https://countrysummer.com/

4th Annual Monterey International Blues FestivalJune 26thMonterey County Fairgrounds, Monterey

The Monterey International Blues Festival strives to preserve the Blues, a great American music tradition, by introducing festival attendees to all of its colors, shapes, and forms, with the goal of increasing appreciation and thereby creating a new, expanded audience for the Blues. After making the difficult decision to postpone their 2020 festival, the festival promoters are eager to bring the blue back with a bang at this year’s event. Ticket holders for the postponed 2020 event can redeem their tickets without penalty. The lineup is still being finalized, but conger goers can expect to see a diverse and talented assortment of blues, jazz, and fusion artists while enjoying the unbeatable weather that makes the central coast the go-to destination for Central Valley residents looking to escape the heat. 

Tickets are available at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/4th-annual-monterey-international-blues-festival-tickets-89198624487

Hard Summer Music FestivalJuly 31st – August 1stNOS Events Center, San Bernadino

Southern California’s premiere hip hop and electronic music festival is back with a bang for 2021. The two-day event showcases a stacked lineup of artists, including Future, Rezz, DJ Snake, Dillon Francis, 2 Chainz, RL Grime, Lil Durk, A-Trak, and Kayzo. Taking place in San Bernadino’s NOS Events Center, Hard Summer promises to be the biggest hip hop and electronic music festival of 2021. 

For more information, including tickets and booking information, visit https://www.hardsummer.com/

Santa Cruz Beach BoardwalkOpen All Summer – Beach Street, Santa Cruz

Unquestionably one of California’s most famous coastal attractions, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is the one-stop destination for adults, families, and kids of all ages looking for the ultimate in summer fun. From the amusement rides and arcades, to the shops and restaurants, the Boardwalk has everything you need to have the quintessential west coast beach experience. It’s no wonder the Boardwalk attracts vacationers from all over the world to the laid-back seaside town. Every weekend night, the Boardwalk also features live music as part of its summer concert series. If big crowds aren’t your thing, Santa Cruz is also home to some of California’s best surfing, with international competition events held there all summer long. There’s also plenty of shopping, diverse and delicious restaurants, and some of the most breathtaking stretches of beach in the state. Grab a burrito, head to the beach, and do some whale watching while soaking up the sun! 

For more information, including events and special offers, visit https://beachboardwalk.com/

Bass LakeSierra National Forest

It’s no wonder Sunset Magazine named Bass Lake as one of “The West’s Best Lakes”. Bass Lake is renowned for excellent fishing, hiking trails, and warm waters. With the full service Pines Resort, wakeboarding and watersports, and outdoor adventure galore, Bass Lake is the perfect vacation destination with activities to please the whole family. 

Camping at Bass Lake and the adjoining Sierra National Forest is now open for the season.  To book camping reservations go to www.recreation.gov and search Bass Lake or Sierra National Forest.  

Bass Lake is also well-known for hosting great live music events at its numerous lakeside resorts and venues. To learn more about all the fun and exciting activities available at Bass Lake, visit https://www.yosemitethisyear.com/bass-lake

Shaver LakeSierra National Forest

When you vacation at picturesque Shaver Lake—a sapphire gem hugged by pine forest in the granite-studded Sierra Nevada Mountains—megawatts will be the furthest thing from your mind. But this boulder-lined reservoir 50 miles northeast of Fresno is a critical link in one of California’s oldest hydroelectric chains, built by Southern California Edison in 1927 to supply Los Angeles with power.

While the lake is busy generating electricity, you’ll occupy yourself with jet-skiing, swimming, and fishing. Rent a Waverunner or a ski boat at Shaver Lake Water Sports or Sierra Marina, then rev up the horsepower and zoom around the lake’s placid surface. If you’re just learning how to get up on one ski, losing your balance is a pleasure. Shaver’s temperature warms up nicely by mid-summer, thanks to a mid-level elevation of 5,200 feet. Sun-worshippers pick their spots on the beach and cool off with long, leisurely swims. 

Kayakers and canoeists seek out Shaver’s quiet coves for paddling, while anglers troll their boats around the deep inlets or cast a line from shore, hoping to hook into a rainbow trout, brown trout, kokanee salmon, or smallmouth bass. Most are pan-sized, but 10-pound trout are not uncommon. If your family is new to fishing, book a trip with Dick’s Fishing Charters—Captain Dick will make sure your kids catch fish.

On Shaver’s western shore, Camp Edison’s 252 campsites provide easy access to the water and an unusual bonus: electricity, cable television, and high-speed wifi, courtesy of the hydroelectric project. (Don’t tell your boss that you can receive emails on vacation.) A small general store provides everything you might have forgotten when you left home. Thirty-five miles of trails surround the lake, and even more are found “up the hill” at Huntington Lake, a 20-mile drive. Set out for a hike, or let Trigger do the walking—Shaver Stable offers one-hour, two-hour, and longer guided horseback rides.

Non-campers can book a cabin or room at the Shaver Lake Village Hotel or Elliott House Bed and Breakfast. Shaver Lake Village is tiny, but you’ll find great food at the surprisingly epicurean Seasons Bistro and Tavern, the Blue Sky Cafe, or the family favorite, Shaver Lake Pizza.

To plan your Shaver Lake getaway, visit https://www.visitcalifornia.com/uk/attraction/shaver-lake

Yosemite National Park

California’s most famous national park is about to kick off its popular summer season, bringing campers and sightseers from all over the world to experience legendary sights such as Bridalveil Falls and Horsetail Falls, which is known for catching the sun’s rays in early spring, transforming the water to a bright, glowing orange that resembles molten gold. 

There’s also rock climbing at various spots such as the famous Half Dome, tons of hiking trails for all skill and experience levels, and some of the best camping you will find in the entire state. An icon of America’s majestic natural beauty, California’s Yosemite National Park welcomes millions of visitors each year. Whether you’re looking for the adventure vacation of a lifetime, want to immerse yourself in the stillness of nature—or simply hike, backpack or ski in one of the most beautiful places on earth, you’ll find your place in Yosemite. To begin planning your Yosemite Park adventure, visit https://www.travelyosemite.com/

CambriaCentral Coast

With boutique lodging and no chains in sight, your vacation in Cambria will be unlike any other. This remote Central Coast retreat is full of enchanting beaches, historic attractions, delicious dining options, and wide-open spaces—without the crowds. One of California’s best-kept secrets, Cambria has long been a popular spot for Central Valley residents looking to beat the heat AND the crowds of tourists that flock to more popular Central Coast towns like Pismo, San Luis Obispo, and Morro Bay. Located about 30 minutes north of Morro Bay, Cambria is the ultimate cottage community. With a main street lined with curio shops, cafes, and boutiques, you will wonder why the crowds aren’t larger as you enjoy leisurely window shopping and perhaps a delicious treat from the French Corner Bakery.

Enjoy some of the many hiking trails and take in the beauty of the Central Coast. Collect sand glass along Moonstone Beach. Or just pick out a plot of sand to sit on and watch the sunset turn the waves into liquid gold.

Just up Highway 1 is San Simeon, home to the world-famous Hearst Castle, which offers daily tours.

Or, head south just a few minutes to Harmony, an art community with a population of 17 that’s straight off the cover of a storybook. Visit the glass blower and pick up a hand-made, one-of-a-kind piece of art to commemorate your trip. Then grab a delicious handmade ice cream cone before snapping all the ‘gram-worthy selfies you can next to the picturesque shops, decorated trees, or chapel.

With average summer temperatures in the low-60’s, you may not want to return to the punishing triple-digits in the Valley after you visit Cambria. But, with the Central Coast only about a 2-hour drive from Fresno, maybe you could just compromise and visit there every weekend instead?

San Francisco

One of the most beautiful cities in the world, San Francisco also imposed some of the strictest COVID-19 restrictions in the state in an effort to control the spread of the virus. Being the most densely-populated city in the state, they couldn’t afford not to take the pandemic seriously. As such, much of what made San Francisco such a beacon for international tourism was either significantly restricted, or shut down entirely for the past year. With the state finally fully re-opening on June 15th, San Francisco once again will become the premier travel destination for literally everything anyone could ever want from a California vacation experience. 

San Francisco is famous for so many reasons. It is a city with a rich and storied history. From its gold rush beginnings and proud immigrant heritage, to being on the frontlines of the fight for civil rights and equality, to the famous hippie movement of the “Summer of Love” in the 60s. San Francisco is a cultural melting pot with a community and world-class dining scene to match. Over 30 Michelin starred restaurants, some of the best restaurants and cafes in the world, are located in San Francisco. Not to mention shopping that runs the spectrum from the second-hand stores, oddity curious, and hippy chic shops on Haight Street, to high-end fashion boutiques and art galleries in trendy SOMA.

You can even head to the Embarcadero and catch a Giants game, or visit Fisherman’s Wharf and enjoy a delicious bowl of clam chowder or fish & chips, or maybe pick up a hot, fresh loaf of sourdough from the Boudin bakery.

June is Pride month, and nobody does Pride like San Francisco! Visit the Castro and experience the sights, sounds, and celebration first-hand.

And we haven’t even mentioned the Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park, the famous Painted Ladies houses, the Presidio, or the beaches packed with kite boarders, taking advantage of San Francisco’s swift ocean breezes to get dizzying air as they launch from the choppy waves.

There is just no other city in California quite like San Francisco. With so many different ways to see the city, you can vacation there a hundred times and never have the same experience twice. To plan one of many epic San Francisco vacation experiences, visit https://www.sftravel.com/

These are just some of the hundreds of fun and exciting events and destinations ready for you to create a summer full of memories. It is important to mention, however, that despite the official lifting of state regulations for masks and social distancing on June 15th, individual businesses and events may still reserve the right to enforce their own rules regarding masks and/or social distancing in their establishments. 

The Fresno Flyer recommends to always make sure you contact businesses or venues to inquire about their specific COVID policies if you have any questions before making vacation plans. Get vaccinated, stay safe, and go have some fun!