STOPS TO MAKE FOR FESTIVAL FUN DURING SUMMER TRAVELS.
Wherever you're driving this summer, getting there is half the fun. Especially if you've planned some stops along the way that coincide with California's numerous festivals.
California towns and organizations are cooking up a vast menu of summer fairs and festivals with themes ranging from concerts and cowboys to planets and plein-air (that's French for painting outdoors) painting.
So check out the dates you'll be traveling and see if there's a fest or a fair on your route:
Now through Sept. 1: Shell-A-Bration of Summer, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, 2559 Puesta del Sol, and Sea Center, 211 Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara. Treasure hunts, films, hands-on science and art activities, stories, puppets and lectures about shells and sea life at both sites. Hours: Museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays and holidays; Sea Center is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission: museum, $5 adults, $4 teens and seniors, $3 children 12 and under; Sea Center, $2 adults, $1.50 teens and seniors and $1 children 12 and under. Information: museum, (805) 682-4711; (805) 962-0885.
Saturday: Days of Wine & Lavender, Matanzas Creek Winery, 6097 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa. Live jazz, guided tour of the winery's gardens, lessons on cooking with lavender, lavender-craft-making demonstrations and gifts, wine tasting and food offered amid the winery's lavender fields. Hours: 1 to 5 p.m. Admission: $50. Information: (800) 590-6464.
Saturday and June 29: Monterey Bay Blues Festival, Monterey Fairgrounds, 2004 Fairgrounds Road, Monterey. Concerts, food and arts and crafts. Hours: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. June 29. Admission: $15 per day adults, $12 per day active military and seniors (does not include Main Stage shows). Package, including Main Stage shows, $63 per person. Information: (408) 394-2652.
June 29-July 6: Summer Art Celebration, French Park, 10th and French streets, and the Bowers Museum, 2002 N. Main St., Santa Ana. Jazz festival from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 29 at the park. Free. Artists will give plein-air painting demonstrations daily in neighborhoods throughout Santa Ana, culminating in a viewing and painting sale from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 6 at the museum. Free. Information: (714) 647-6989.
July 3-5: A Star-Spangled Event Fourth of July celebration, Crescent City. Art show, demolition derby, melodrama, parade, barbecue, drag races and fireworks display are among the activities to be held throughout the city. Hours, prices vary. Information: (800) 343-8300.
July 4: Kenwood Fourth of July Celebration. A pillow-fighting contest, footrace, parade and chili cook-off are planned throughout town. Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free. Information: (707) 833-2440.
July 4: Sonoma Fourth of July Parade and Old-Fashioned Celebration, Sonoma Plaza. Music, poetry and drama readings, arts and crafts, fireworks. Hours: 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Free. Information: (707) 938-4626.
July 4-6: Planetfest '97, Pasadena Convention Center, 300 E. Green St. Landing of the Pathfinder spacecraft on Mars will be shown on July 4; updates and real-time images of the latest planetary missions will be featured throughout the festival. Events include a parade of floats, robotics, astronauts and celebrities, hands-on workshops for children, space art exhibition from NASA, science and science-fiction videos and science-related entertainment. Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission $25 adults, $13 seniors and $11 children. Discounts for three-day pass. Information: (818) 793-5100.
July 5-6: Tellers & Tales storytelling festival, Tenaya Lodge, 1122 Highway 41, Fish Camp (outside Yosemite). Four storytellers - Diane Ferlatte, Patrick Bal, Linda Johnson and J.J. Reneaux - will tell stories and there will be a July 5 barbecue a6nd July 6 picnic. Hours: 7 to 10 p.m. July 5, 1 to 4 p.m. July 6. Admission: $68 adults, $46 children 12 and under for both days' activities. Admission to July 5 events only: $37.50 adults, $26.50 children; July 6, $30.50 adults, $19.50 children. Storytelling only is $12 adults, $10 children on July 5, $10 adults, $8 children July 6. Information: (800) 635-5807.
July 12: Idyllwild Cowboy Jubilee, downtown Idyllwild. Celebration of American Indian and Western heritage, including cowboy poetry contest, music, recreation of American Indian village, country dancing, kids' country fair and musical headliners from 6 to 8 p.m. Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; jamming with the cowboys begins at 8:30 p.m. Admission: $12 per person for day and evening shows, $8 (with purchase of all-day ticket) for jamming with the cowboys. Information: (800) 649-6463.
Aug. 15-17: Tehachapi Mountain Festival and Rodeo, City Park, 311 E. D St., Tehachapi. Classic car cruise, 5K and 10K runs, parade, rodeo, dance, concert, arts and crafts, food, games and theatrical performances. Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Free. Information: (805) 822-4180.
Aug. 29-31: Kern River Valley-Fall Festival, Circle Park, Kernville. Arts and crafts. Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free. Information: (619) 376-3705.
Aug. 30-Sept. 1: Sausalito Art Festival, Marinship Park adjacent to Marina Office Plaza, 2330 Marinship Way. Fine arts festival with music and food. Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Admission: $10 adults, $5 seniors and children 6 to 12. Information: (415) 332-3555.
Aug. 30-Sept 1: Hot Air Balloon Festival, Prado Regional Park, 16700 Euclid Ave., Chino. Hot-air balloon liftoff at 7:30 a.m. daily, followed by free tethered balloon rides; balloon glows 8 p.m. Aug. 30-31, followed by tethered rides for $8 per person. Pancake breakfast daily, barbecue Aug. 30-31 evenings, dance Aug. 30. Parking $10; camping $25 per unit per night. Information: (909) 387-2757.
Aug. 30-Sept.1: Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Au6ction. Picnic, wine auction, barbecue, winery open houses throughout the Sonoma Valley. Prices, locations, hours vary. Information: (707) 935-0803.
Photo: (1) The Absolut Chalk Street Painting Festival, with hundreds of artists using chalk as their medium and concrete as their canvas, runs 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. June 28 and 29 at Universal CityWalk.
(2) Diane Ferlatte is featured at the Tellers & Tales Storytelling Festival July 5 and 6 in Yosemite.