This summer the West is full of fun festivals, events and places to explore, whether tied to the Wild West, cool art, dinosaurs, strange critters, Da Vinci or Disney. Better get a move on. (Some events listed here as free may have charges for related activities such as dinners or concerts.)
California State Parks
Get in touch with nature by volunteering with the California State Parks Foundation’s Park Champions program throughout the state for restoring habitat, removing invasive plants, repairing trails, fixing fences and more.
When: The year-round program ramps up for summer, especially in places that are too cold for work in the winter.
Info: California State Parks Foundation’s Park Champions, (415) 262-4400
The hands-on “Leonardo da Vinci Machines in Motion” exhibit at the Aerospace Museum of California shows 40 full-size replicas of Leonardo’s innovative 15th century flying machines, parachutes, robots and more.
When: Through Sept. 4
Cost: Adults, $15; seniors, 65 and older, and children, 6-17, $12; children 5 and younger are admitted free.
Info: “Leonardo da Vinci Machines in Motion,” (916) 643-3192
Visitors immerse themselves in the bioluminescent world of glowing creatures in the new Infinity Cube at the Birch Aquarium at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
When: Through Dec. 31
Cost: The Infinity Cube is included in aquarium admission. Adults, $18.50; children, 3-17, $14; children younger than 2 are admitted free.
The Palm Springs International ShortFest, showing 300 short films from more than 50 countries, also has seminars, dinners and parties.
When: June 20-26
Cost: From $13
Info: The Palm Springs International ShortFest, (800) 898-7256
The Sacramento History Museum’s adults-only Underground After Hours tour opens the dark, steamy side of the city during the Gold Rush, with its saloons, shady characters, gaming halls, swindlers and houses of ill repute. Must be 21 or older.
When: Through mid-October
Info: Underground After Hours, (916) 808-7059
In the new Conrad Prebys Africa Rocks in the San Diego Zoo, visitors wander along paths through six African biodiversity zones — tropical forest, wetlands, rocky shorelines, woodlands, savannas and mountain highlands — to get a chance to see leopards, lemurs, vervet monkeys and up to 40 other species.
When: Africa Rocks was to have opened June 10.
Cost: Adults, $52; children, 3-11, $42; children younger than 2 are admitted free.
Info: Conrad Prebys Africa Rocks in the San Diego Zoo, (619) 231-1515
Tiki Oasis is for fans of tropical-island lifestyle, cocktails, old cars, island art, tattoos, bikinis, vintage wear and burlesque.
When: Aug. 10-13
Cost: It varies. There are free events and some that charge admission. See the website for tickets.
When: Through Jan. 8
Cost, including “Awaking Beauty” exhibit: adults. $35, seniors 65 and older and students (with valid ID), $30; children, 6-17, $15; children younger than 6 are admitted free with an adult. Exhibit only: adult/senior, $15, youth and children are admitted free.
Info: Walt Disney Family Museum, (415) 345-6800
Celebrate the longest day of the year with vivid colors, live music, art, dance, workshops for kids and a parade with inventive floats at the Santa Barbara Summer Solstice Celebration.
When: June 23-25
Cost: Free or $50 for specialty seating
Info: Santa Barbara Summer Solstice Celebration, (805) 965-3396
With the theme of “Unity through Community,” the Old Spanish Days Fiesta cultivates California’s cultural heritage and traditions through music, dance, a Mexican market, crafts, fine arts, historical tours, cantinas and a rodeo.
When: Aug. 2-6
Info: Old Spanish Days Fiesta, (805) 962-8101
Bearfest celebrates all things ursine plus hikes, Native American storytelling, films, photo workshops, symposiums, live music, a marathon, golf, a contest for the best-dressed (teddy) bear, and watching the bears from a special observatory.
When: July 26-30
Info: Bearfest, (907) 874-2998
The Museum of Northern Arizona honors Native American culture with the Hopi Festival of Arts and Culture featuring katsina dolls, jewelry, textiles and woodworking as well as cultural talks, artist demonstrations and traditional food and dance.
When: July 1 and 2
Cost: Adults, $12; children 10-17, student with ID and Native American with tribal affiliation, $8; children younger than 10 admitted free.
Info: Hopi Festival of Arts and Culture, (928) 774-5213
More than 100 American Indian artists join vendors at the Prescott Indian Art Market to exhibit and sell handmade baskets, carvings, pottery, sculptures and paintings against a backdrop of traditional Native American dance, music and cuisine.
When: July 8 and 9
Cost: Adults, $10; children 17 and younger are admitted free
The Southwest Wings Birding and Nature Festival celebrates furry critters, reptiles, insects and birds with walks, talks, displays, art and crafts in the unusual environment of the Southwest’s isolated “sky islands.”
When: Aug. 2-5
Cost: Some events free; field trips from $45
Info: Southwest Wings Birding and Nature Festival, (520) 266-0149
With the opening of the new Epic Discovery at Breckenridge Ski Resort, the summer park expands from chairlifts, mazes, bungee-trampolines, roller coasters and panning for gemstones, and adds a new interpretive trail, animal challenges such as striding as far as a moose does, and an Alpineer Challenge Course with rope swings and log walks in the national forest.
When: New activities open July 1. Through mid-September
Cost: Ages 7 and older, from $68; ages 3-6, from $40; children younger than 2 are admitted free.
Info: Epic Discovery, (800) 985-9842
Thousands of music fans gather at the Ukulele Festival Hawaii in Waikiki to hear some of the world’s best ukulele players in a five-hour concert.
When: July 16
Info: Ukulele Festival Hawaii, (808) 732-3739
Combine sports and culture as you paddle an outrigger canoe, listen to traditional Hawaiian stories, gaze at the torch light parade, mosey on a history-focused walking tour or watch the Queen Liliuokalani Long Distance Canoe Races on Hawaii Island.
When: Aug. 31-Sept. 4
Info: Queen Liliuokalani Long Distance Canoe Races, (808) 937-3255
During Wagon Days step into the Old West to see the parade of well-preserved stagecoaches, horse-drawn buggies and wagons, and massive Lewis ore wagons pulled by 20-mule teams.
When: Aug. 31-Sept. 4
Info: Wagon Days, (800) 634-3347
When: Through Sept. 10
Cost: Adults, $14.50; seniors 65 and older, $13.50; children 5-17, $9.50; children younger than 4 are admitted free.
Info: “Crocs: Ancient Predators in a Modern World,” (406) 994-2251
The nonprofit Yellowstone Forever Institute has a variety of multiday nature field seminars focused on wolves, bears, bison, raptors, volcanoes, glaciers, fly-fishing, families, citizen science and more. They’re in and just north of Yellowstone National Park.
When: Various dates through Oct. 2
Costs: From $125 a person
Info: Yellowstone Forever Institute, (406) 848.2400
Las Vegas: Sin City always dazzles, but the wild Electric Daisy Carnival makes it glow even brighter with all-night outdoor fusions of technology, light shows, fire, music, heavy beats, dance and carnival rides. Must be 18 years old.
When: Friday-June 18.
Cost: Three-day passes from $424.
Info: Electric Daisy Carnival
The less expensive version of Burning Man (or at least the Man) is the Burning of the Zozobra, a 50-foot-tall marionette that’s also known as Old Man Gloom. The conflagration kicks off the 304-year-old Fiesta de Santa Fe, which runs 10 days.
When: Sept. 1 for the burning of the Zozobra; Sept. 1-10 for Fiesta de Santa Fe
Cost: Adults $10; children younger than 10 are admitted free
Info: Burning of the Zozobra, (855) 969-6272
Portland seems to have a festival celebrating craft beer every summer weekend, but one of the biggest is the Oregon Brewers Festival.
When: July 26-30
Cost: Free admission but $7 for a mug and $1 per taste. Cash only. Minors are allowed only with parents.
Info: Oregon Brewers Festival
Cedar Breaks National Monument
Held in an official International Dark Sky Park, Cedar Breaks Star Parties are a great place to peer through telescopes while astronomers explain the wonders in space you’re seeing.
When: Saturdays through Labor Day weekend
Cost: Free (plus park entrance fee of $6 for those 16 and older, free for those 15 and younger)
Info: Cedar Breaks Star Parties, (435) 586-0787
The Seattle Art Museum’s “Infinity Mirrors” installation by artist Yayoi Kusama creates bizarre illusions of infinite space.
When: June 30-Sept. 10
Cost: Museum admission is by donation. “Infinity Mirrors” is extra: adults, $34.94; seniors, 62 and older, and military with ID, $32.95; students with ID and teens 13-17, $24.95; children 12 and younger are admitted free.
Info: Seattle Art Museum’s Infinity Mirrors, (206) 654-3210
One of the world’s biggest rodeos, the Calgary Stampede in Alberta attracts competitors from around the planet and includes concerts and evening Western shows.
When: July 7-16
Cost: General admission, ages 13-64, $14; seniors, 65 and older, and children 7-12, $7; children younger than 6 are admitted free. Rodeo and other special events are an additional charge.
Info: Calgary Stampede, (800) 661-1767
The city celebrates Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation with concerts, fireworks and the biggest festivities outside Ottawa, Canada’s capital. Cheer along as more than 60 floats, bands and other revelers representing diverse cultures travel downtown streets.
When: July 1 and 2
Info: Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation, (604) 683-2000