Labor Day weekend: things to do in the Bay Area without much driving

With a record-breaking number of people expected to be flying this Labor Day weekend, it seems like the perfect time to take a Bay Area staycation and avoid the airports.

Whether you want to drive a little bit, locally, or try to avoid the roads as much as possible, here are your options for things to do over the long weekend in each part of the Bay Area!

Get out on the water

There are several places and ways to get onto/into/near water without going too far. Our friend Karl the Fog has been starting to hang around, so keep that in mind if you’re going to areas on or near the water in SF. (Take a sweatshirt!)

Lake Lagunitas, Marin County

North Bay

If you’re in Marin and you want to go for an easy hike and picnic near a lake, Lake Lagunitas is a beautiful spot. You can’t actually swim or boat there, but there are some nice hikes with tree cover to keep things cool. There are also streams that make for good exploring, especially if you bring the whole family! Even your dog is welcome, on leash.(Every day, sunrise to sunset)

San Francisco

You can rent various types of small boats with a Captain to take you out on the Bay, or you can even rent one to take out yourself—if you have sufficient experience.

If you’re over 21 and want to party on a yacht, Pier Pressure SF might be just the thing for your Sunday night. It’s a dance party out on the San Francisco Bay (on a 150-foot yacht), with 2 DJs, full bars, and SF views for days. (Sun 8:45 pm – Mon 1:15 am)

East Bay

If you’re looking for a place to beat the heat in the East Bay, Don Castro Regional Recreation Area in Hayward has options for the whole family. There’s a swim lagoon with a man-made beach (this fills up early on weekends and holidays, so it’s best to get there close to the swim area’s 11 am opening time for the swim area. It’s open until 6 pm), lots of picnic areas, and even fishing on a lake that’s stocked with trout and catfish (fishing license required for those who are 16 and older.)

An added bonus is that the park is dog-friendly. Your canine pal is allowed (on leash) in the park and picnic areas. (Though no dogs are permitted in the swim lagoon area.)(Every day, 8 am – 10 pm)


Shoreline Lake, in Mountain View has all sorts of fun things to do. Hiking, biking, pedalboating, standup paddleboarding, canoeing, kayaking, and sailing are all options there. And there’s a great little cafe there, too—because watersports make everyone hungry! You can even arrange for a picnic to take out on the various watercraft, all of which are available for rent. (Every day, 10 am – 6:30 pm)

South Bay

Vasona Park in Los Gatos is a beautiful park and lake with numerous boating options. You can rent paddle boats, canoes, and rowboats, and enjoy one of the peaceful picnic sites. The watercraft rentals tend to go quickly, so it’s best to get there early. (Every day, 8 am – Sunset)

Visit a Brewery

Here’s a good craft beer brewer in each area—if you haven’t visited these, they’re all fun, laid-back places to go have a flight, or a couple of pints. And they’re dog-friendly!

Southern Pacific, in San Francisco

North Bay

Henhouse Brewing Company, Santa Rosa

Henhouse has some creative and interesting options, like a stout brewed with whole oysters, and saisons made with ingredients like black pepper and coriander. They also have more standard options, with more traditional IPAs, pale ales, and saisons. (Sat, Sun, 11 am – 9 pm. Mon, 2 – 9 pm)

San Francisco

Southern Pacific Brewing

They serve food here, so dogs are allowed on the patio, but not inside. In addition to the beers, SP’s burger game is solid. Special mention goes to the Brass Hat Burger; jalapeño and chile sauce mean that it pairs perfectly with any of their great brews. Oh, and the sage fries. Don’t miss those. (Sat, 11 am – 2 am. Sun, 11 am – 12 am. Mon, 11 am – 12 am)

Brass Hat burger
The illustrious Brass Hat Burger. And sage fries.

East Bay

Alameda Island Brewing, Alameda

This is a great space that never seems crowded, even when it’s full. Excellent beers—be sure to tty Island Haze—friendly staff, and a dog-friendly space. (Sat, Noon – 11 pm)


Blue Oak Brewing Co., San Carlos

A sour, an IPA, a wheat, a stout, a lager… Blue Oak is a small, under-the-radar brewery, but this is a typical selection of what they have on tap, so there’s something for everyone. Dog friendly. (Sat, 2 am – 10 pm)

South Bay

Hapa’s Brewing, San Jose

They have a great selection of beers on tap, particularly IPAs and New England-style IPAs. On weekends, they usually have a visiting food truck. Dogs are welcome inside and out. (Saturday, 11 am – 9 pm)

Check out some art, antiques, and home decor

Two of the premier art festivals in California are happening this Labor Day weekend… along with several monthly art events.

Main stage at the Sausalito Art Festival

North Bay

Sausalito Art Festival

One of the foremost art festivals in the Bay Area, this is on the water in picturesque Sausalito. It also has some major musical talent playing, including Dave Koz, Son Volt, and the Drive By Truckers.

The festival opens at 10:00 am, all three days of the holiday weekend. You might want to get there right at opening—to snag a good parking spot—and plan on brunch at Le Garage, a quaint cafe that we especially like because it’s located in a former auto shop. Hence the name! (Sat, Sun, 10 am – 7 pm. Monday, 10 am – 5 pm)

San Francisco

Sunday is monthly free admission day at the Asian Art Museum, where you can see permanent collection galleries and special exhibitions including Traces of the Past and Future Fu Shen’s Paintings and Calligraphy and Shiva Ahmadi’s video work, Ascend. (Sun, 10 am – 5 pm)

Another museum-type activity that’s always fun for people of all ages is The Exploratorium. It’s full of hands-on science experiments and experiences, and it’s open all weekend. (Sat, Sun, Mon, 10 am – 5 pm)

East Bay

Alameda Point Antiques Faire (aka Alameda Flea)

This happens the first Sunday of every month, so it coincides with Labor Day weekend. It gets crowded (even on non-holiday weekends), so be prepared… but it’s really something to see. It starts at 6:00 am, so if you don’t want to have first crack at the best finds, it’s best to get there early. If you’re not on too much of a mission, and just want to walk around, it goes until 3:00 pm. (Sun. Entry price drops as the time gets later, too: $15 from 6-7:30 am, $10 from 7:30-9 am, and after 9:00 am it’s just $5. Accompanied children 15 and younger are free.)


Kings Mountain Art Fair, Woodside

Offerings from local artists and craftspeople, in the a beautiful Redwood setting. It’s long been considered one of the top events of its kind in California. (All Labor Day Weekend; Sat, Sun, and Mon, 10 am – 5 pm)

South Bay

Makers Market at Santana Row

Workshops, live music, and over 30 local artists showing their work at this monthly event. AND wine and snacks will be served in a nearby storefront! (Sat, noon – 6 pm)

Go to a game

For the sports fan, there are several baseball games and a college football game happening in the Bay this long weekend.


San Francisco

Giants vs Mets (Fri, Sat, Sun)

The rivalry continues in the City By the Bay. And for fans, there are a few fun things to note for each game: Friday is Fireworks night—hopefully Karl will cooperate! Saturday is Buster Posey socks day. And Sunday is Fellowship Day—all special event ticket proceeds with go to the Salvation Army.East Bay

A’s vs Mariners (Fri, Sat, Sun)

The Mariners are coming off of a three-game losing streak, and this series could make or break their postseason hopes.

A’s vs Yankees (Monday)

The Yankees lead the A’s by 4 ½ games for the top wildcard spot, so this should be a good series…

Cal Bears vs North Carolina Tar Heels (Saturday)

The Tarheels are coming to Memorial Stadium as underdogs, as oddsmakers list Cal as the 7-point favorite. Go Bears!

South Bay

SJ Giants vs Modesto Nuts (Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon)

The San Jose Giants are the South Bay’s minor league baseball team, and a farm team for the San Francisco giants. Their games are a blast, and affordable enough to take the whole family. (Plus, the ballpark has good BBQ!) Some of the SF Giants’ top players were once San Jose Giants, including Buster Posey, Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, {Pablo Sandoval, and Madison Bumgarner.

But, where are the cars?

And for some of us, no weekend would be complete without something car-related. There’s not much this particular weekend, but there are a couple of car-related options.


North Bay

If you want to check out some unique classics and exotics, and talk cars with other enthusiasts, Marin County Cars & Coffee is happening Sunday morning, from 7:30 – 10 am, in Novato.

East Bay

The Blackhawk Museum is open all three days. The automotive gallery features a stunning collection of over 40 extraordinarily rare and historically significant cars. And the museum has expanded in recent years to include other amazing exhibits like Spirit of the Old West and Natural History. (The museum is usually closed on Mondays, but is open for Labor Day.) (Sat, Sun, Mon. 10 am – 5 pm)

Or, if you just want to order in and lay low after a long week, there’s always plenty to binge on Netflix. Whatever you do this Labor Day weekend, be safe, relax, and enjoy!

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