For that final blast of summer vacation you can find hula in the mountains, gravity-defying sand castles at the beach and Middle-Eastern sandwiches at a chili cook-off.
Want a brief escape from stress? Consider a calm and meditative day viewing the ancient art of "Bonsai: The Living Art" at the Bowers Museum. Members of Kofu Bonsai Kai will give demonstrations on the graceful art of miniature trees.
Kids might like the museum's free International Mask Festival (midday Sept. 3) with mask-dances from Japan, Mexico and Africa.
When: Aug. 30-Sept. 3
Cost/info: Free (but does not include museum admission). Children welcome. No dogs. (714) 567-3677
Is that really sand? Yes, it is. The sand sculptures at the U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge & Dimensional Art Exposition are not your grandmother's sand castles. OK, so it's special sand, but it's still just sand and water shaped into amazing, thought-provoking, awe-inspiring works of art.
When: Sept. 1-4.
Cost, info: Adults from $15, seniors (62 and older) and active military from $12, children younger than 12 from $10. Only service dogs allowed. (619) 994-3752
A luau in the mountains? Indeed, and aloha. Lake Gregory's Mauka Makai Luau celebrates Hawaiian and Polynesian cultures with music, songs and dance from Hawaii, Tahiti, Samoa and New Zealand. A Samoan chief is on tap to perform a fire-knife dance. Polynesian-themed cuisine includes island-style roasted pig, kalua pork and Hawaiian-style potato and macaroni salads.
When: Sept. 2.
Cost, info: Tickets $58. Children younger than 5 sitting on a parent's lap are free. No dogs. (951) 818-2292
Move and swoon to 30 bands on two stages at the New Blues Festival in El Dorado Park. Scheduled to appear are Guitar Shorty, Zac Harmon, Janiva Magness, Ana Popovic and Chris Cain.
When: Sept. 2 and 3.
Cost/info: Adults from $40, child with adult free. No pets except service dogs. (707) 572-5837
Fiesta Hermosa displays artwork created by more than 300 jewelers, potters, sculptors, photographers and painters. Tribute bands on the main stage honor the Beatles, Doors and Neil Young, and surf, pop and classic rock from the '70s through the '90s rock another stage. Kids can ride ponies, visit the petting zoo and play in the small Kiddie Carnival, which offers rides, a climbing wall and a bungee-jump.
When: Sept. 2-4.
Cost, info: Free except for carnival rides and games. Family friendly. Dogs on leash welcome. (310) 376-0951
Cast a vote for the People's Choice Chili at this Chili Cook-Off & Music Festival. If chili's not your thing, you'll also find pizza, burgers, Middle Eastern pita sandwiches, popcorn and ice cream as well as fresh lemonade and craft beer. When visitors aren't eating, they can look at classic cars and boogie to live music. Kids can make crafts and jump in a bouncy house.
When: Sept. 3
Cost, info: Adults from $20; active military $10; child 12 and younger free. Only service dogs permitted. (805) 484-4383.
Always check before you go because weather or other factors can affect events. Children should always be accompanied by an adult. Assume dogs must be on a leash. To suggest an event that's cool and close to home, email email@example.com.