Need a summer break from making your own meals in a hot kitchen? You’ve got plenty of dining-out options in Southern California. But if you want to get outside and mingle with the masses while you chow down, stop by any of these regional food festivals. Your taste buds will thank you for it.
San Diego, San Diego County
This is where you can go whole hog to celebrate International Bacon Day, September 2. There’s no limit to the bacon and beer samples served up by dozens of guilty-pleasure vendors including Slater’s 50/50, Bub’s at the Ballpark, The Promiscuous Fork, Riviera Supper Club, Bitter Brothers Brewing Company, Gordon Biersch Brewery, and Wiseguy Brewing Company. Buy a VIP ticket and get a brew caddie that hangs around your neck and holds your beer while you pig out. Preble Field at NTC Park, 2600 Cushing Road, Liberty Station.
City of Orange, Orange County
“A Taste of Tradition” is the theme of this September 1-3 event in downtown Orange. The fair helps support local nonprofit groups by providing an opportunity for recognition and to raise funds. Find and enjoy foods from 16 different countries in booths that line North and South Glassell Street and West Chapman Avenue. This year the sub-theme is “45 Years of Flavor and Fun,” alluding to the traditions and cultures of the countries represented.
Long Beach, Los Angeles County
Dedicated to the cream-of-the-crop crustacean, this mouthwatering festival returns September 8-10 for its 21st year of providing fresh live Maine lobster, prepared to perfection in the world’s largest cooker. Dance away the calories to a variety of popular artists throughout the day, enjoy more tasty eats in the food court, kick back in the VIP Lounge, check out the arts and crafts booths, catch some sports action at the Live Sports Tent, sip on adult beverages (beer, wine, and specialty drinks including the infamous signature drink “Screaming Lobster”), and sing in the Karaoke Lounge with a live band on Saturday night. You can even bring the kids for the animal variety show, petting zoo, face painting, games, and inflatable bounce houses.
Camarillo, Ventura County
Held the last Thursday of the month, the festival features local favorites as well as some famous Southern California food trucks. Seating is available on the front lawn, so bring chairs and blankets for picnic-style seating. Enjoy a Disney movie in the barn with your family. Other kids’ activities include a face painter and balloon artist. Adult entertainment includes a live band as well as a local brewery and winery each month.
Goleta, Santa Barbara County
The biggest celebration in the Goleta area for the past 25 years, the Lemon Festival keeps on growing every year. At this year’s event September 16-17, you’ll find wonderful food, a vibrant family atmosphere, pie-eating contests, the arts and crafts vendors, and a variety of entertainment and activities that have made this the most anticipated event in the Goleta Valley. The weekend also includes the Goleta Fall Classic Car and Street Rod Show, and the popular “Safety Street.”