Just because the summer is winding down doesn’t mean the good times have to stop rolling. The bay area abounds in music and food festivals, wine and art strolls and to sum it up, the ever popular art walk. These events can vary from fancy wine tastings with art vendors to hip street art narrated by the pulsating sounds of an up-and-coming local band. Whatever their style, these free events give visitors a chance to experience a lot of art (as well as food and music) in one setting and even purchase the pieces they like best. The following list highlights the best art fairs and art walks in the South Bay.

South First Fridays
S 1st St and Market St
San Jose, CA

Dates: First Friday of the month

This hip, monthly event has re-energized downtown San Jose with its guerrilla take on traditional art forms. In addition to the galleries that line South First and Market Streets, you may also encounter performances, street vendors, food trucks and participating stores with their own installations. It’s best to check the website to see what is being showcased. With the concentration of bars and nightlife in the area, this event is a good kick-off to the weekend and draws hundreds of people each month. The event becomes much bigger and livelier when it hosts the SubZERO Festival.

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Palo Alto Festival of the Arts
University Ave
Palo Alto, CA

Date: August 25 and 26, 2012 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

This popular annual event is sponsored by the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with the City of Palo Alto. Over 150,000 visitors congregate in scenic downtown Palo Alto to view over 300 fine artists and craftspeople. There are wine and beer vendors for adults and a free kids’ art studio for the little ones. A highlight of this event is the live-action Italian Street Painting Expo where artists from throughout California create beautiful but temporary masterpieces on the sidewalk. Visitors are encouraged to use public transportation and discouraged from bringing pets.

Mountain View Art & Wine Festival
Castro St
Mountain View, CA

Date: September 8 and 9, 2012 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

With over 600 artists and craftspeople, live music headliners, a community stage showcasing local talent, a giant television screen for watching football, a break time viewing lounge and a very interactive kids lounge, you and your entire family will have a lot to do. So much so that organizers recommend pacing yourself amongst all the food and drink offerings and bringing enough cash to ensure you can sample to your heart’s content. This event is not pet friendly, although pedestrians of all types are welcome to stroll.

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Santa Clara Art & Wine Festival
Santa Clara Central Park
969 Kiely Blvd
Santa Clara, CA

Date: September 15 and 16, 2012 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Located in a sprawling 52-acre park and drawing roughly 50,000 visitors, this annual event is a family affair. There will be 175 booths to browse and three stages offering live entertainment. Kids Kingdom is always popular with little ones and your $5 parking fee at the nearby school goes directly to benefiting children. No pets allowed.



Almaden Valley Art & Wine Festival
Almaden Lake Park
Almaden Expressway and Coleman Road
San Jose, CA

Date: September 16, 2012 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

All proceeds from this community affair are donated to good causes, including scholarship programs for local students. Organizers want visitors to enjoy the last weekend of the summer at this growing event in a scenic family-friendly park. There will be art, food, entertainment and beer and wine for adults. Children get their own play area with activities including an obstacle course, carnival games, face painting, a 25-foot rock climbing wall and their very own entertainment stage for age-appropriate fun. Parking is free but visitors can also take the light rail.

Lollie Hopper loves to drink deeply from the well of culture. If it’s beautiful, interesting or timely, this Bay Area native wants to cover it. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.