It’s that time of year to dust off your favorite picnic blanket and put on your best bluegrass game face. That’s right kids, it’s the Hardly Strictly Blue Grass Festival. But if three days of free tunes smack dab in Golden Gate Park aren’t your jam then head out on a tarantula hike, visit a real milk-making farm, learn archery on a Peninsula preserve or sing about bugs around a campfire. So as you can tell, fall is on and so are the good times.

Hardly Strickly by Chantal Lamers

By Chantal Lamers

San Francisco

Get in the Groove at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass
Bring your little pickers and your grinners out for the 16th annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival. This free, three-day long festival in the park includes world-renowned bluegrass musicians and swinging Indie bands and everything in between. The festival can be crowded, so parents bring sunscreen, snacks, and a blanket to spread. This year’s festival includes nearly 100 acts with highlights like Steve Earle, Boz Scaggs, Hardly Strictly Disco and way more. Friday is a bonus day, starting at 10:30 a.m., for the entire SFUSD’s middle school classes, which anyone can attend. Food and drink vendors abound. Fri.-Sun. Event details.

Shake It at the Re:Make Festival by Brit + Co
Bring your family and friends to the Re:Make festival where you can try your hand at a ton of free DIY projects, shop goods from over 100 makers, grab a bite to eat from yummy food trucks and even dance the day away with the in-house DJ. Sat. Event details.

East Bay

Bug Out at a Cool Campfire
This fun family night will excite all with its six-legged delights.  Kids will sing buggy songs, perform a play, and hike by the moon’s silvery light.  Join in a true bugs adventure and explore habitats with a black light, have a creepy crawly craft, and roast marshmallows over an open fire. Sat. Event details.

Take a Tarantula and Neon Scorpion Hike
Explore the habitat of local tarantulas along the north face of Mount Diablo. Experience the excitement of finding scorpions glowing like green neon signs in the dark using a black light. Discover and observe the diverse plants and animals inhabiting Mount Diablo. The hike covers a distance of 2 miles, hiking shoes, bottled water and flashlights are highly recommended. Sun. Event details.


Celebrate Ohlone Day at Deer Hollow Farm
It’s that very special time of the year when Deer Hollow Farm opens its doors for Ohlone Day. Located on Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve, the day includes some awesome demos and activities including fire starting, face painting, a hoop and spear game, tool making, acorn grinding, rope making, archery, cooking, shell drilling and more. Sat. Event details.


Ramble over to Gamble Garden Community Day
Head to Gamble Garden for a fall day filled with fun children’s activities, a gorgeous plant sale, horticultural resources, displays, garden demonstrations, food, entertainment, and of course…digging for worms! Kids can make flower arrangements with The Garden Club of Palo Alto to take home. Explore the garden on your own or with an “Explorer” map for kids. There are arts, crafts and cupcake surprises, too. Adults stroll through the formal and demonstration gardens, shop at the plant sale. Grab lunch there or pack a picnic. Sun. Event details.

South Bay

Dance to the Emma Prusch Farm Mountain Music Festival
The Emma Prusch Farm Mountain Music Festival is going to be a real hoot. This one day fall harvest shindig includes live mountain music, dancing with professional callers, a pumpkin patch, hay rides, apple cider tastings, plant sales, park tours and as well as dozens of environmental and educational vendors. Little animal lovers will love the 4H display.  Admission and parking are free. Pack a lunch or enjoy food from Texas Snoballs, Carmen’s Taqueria or several other local vendors. Sat. Event details.

Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Chinese American Historical Museum
Join the Chinese Historical and Cultural Project and History San Jose to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Chinese American Historical Museum. The Chinese American Historical Museum is a replica of the 1888 Ng Shing Gung Temple that was originally located in the heart of Downtown San Jose. Within its walls are exhibits displaying items of historical and cultural significance, and it is a place visitors can learn about the history of the Chinese community in Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area. The celebration includes the unveiling of new upgrades such as a new Digital Timeline and QR code-driven exhibits, created in partnership with Stanford University’s Department of Anthropology. Among activities for kids are traditional crafts as well as a traditional Chinese costume selfie station. Sun. Event details.


Head out for a Headlands Art Adventure
Put your creative cap on for a Marin Headlands adventure in art. You’ll look at the work of Andy Goldsworthy for inspiration, and then create our own ephemeral nature art. Working individually or as a group, you’ll gather natural objects around the Headlands or on the beach to create amazing sculptures. You’ll examine the natural wonders of the coastline while exploring your inner artist. Then stick around after for an optional and nutritious lunch for an extra fee. Sat. Event details.

Pay a Visit to a Real Milk-Making Farm
Between the three of them, they accomplish more in a day than most humans could claim to do in a month. There are roughly 1,500 acres of pasture and cropland to manage, cows to milk, calves to take care of and farm tours to conduct. Yep, we’re talking about farmers! Come see firsthand what makes Organic Valley farms and farmers like none other. The McClelland family will be on hand to welcome families to the farm. Free activities include: Shake and make your own butter, cow puppet crafts, hay maze, petting farm area, pedal car raceway and sustainable activities. Sat. Event details.

What gets you into the weekend groove? Share it with us in the comments below!

–Chantal Lamers