Dig into grub in Palo Alto, listen to live tunes in Mountain View and much more!!

(Image via Getty)

The state is opening back up, and Californians are itching to get their Independence Day plans in order. While the holiday typically entails barbeques, parades and fireworks, what about those more off-the-beaten-path festivities?

This year, there are some great out-of-the-box events across the Peninsula, from a delightful dog contest to getting down and dirty with chalk. Here are some of our favorite ideas for Independence Day, in case you want to celebrate America in a new way this year (on top of some of those more traditional activities, too).

Don’t balk at RWC’s celebration of chalk! (And check out our feature story on local chalk art wizard Marlon Yanes…and follow ChalkArtRWC on Instagram!) (Images via ChalkArtRWC)

Spread pastels in downtown Redwood City

Many people found solace during the pandemic in creating art at home. The Redwood City Parks & Arts Foundation wants to showcase all those new Picassos and Frida Kahlos out on the town.

The foundation is offering free chalk kits to area households, as professional artists and locals work to beautify downtown throughout the holiday weekend. Follow the Chalk Art Walk, from the Redwood City Main Library to Courthouse Square.

If you want to participate but are still timid among crowds, not to worry: The foundation encourages families to participate in Chalk Full of Fun @ Home. With the free chalk kit, each household will receive a 24-pack of chalk pastels and some holiday treats, and can submit photos of their finished work online to compete for prizes. Go to rwcpaf.org.

Road Dog’s “West Coast Dog” (a beef frank with bacon, onions, sweet peppers, tomatoes and mayo). (Image via Yelp)

Dig into some delicious grub in Palo Alto

While the traditional Chili Cook Off is not happening this year, at Palo Alto’s July 4th Summer Event, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the city will have food trucks available at Mitchell Park for people to indulge in some tasty local eats. The current lineup includes Road Dogs, Daily Grind Burgers, Cousins Maine Lobster, Chubby’s Chickn, and Island Sno.

“We’ll have homemade chili dogs, hot dogs, bratwurst — and probably a few special options,” marketing manager and graphic designer Vinh Duong said of Road Dogs, which has been serving up fancy franks across the Bay for over 10 years. More popular offerings include the Space Needle Dog — topped with kraut, melted cream cheese and caramelized onions — and the Tailgate Dog, with seasoned grilled chicken, onions, tomatoes, and chipotle sauce.

The band Radio City All-Stars will also offer a live performance. Go to cityofpaloalto.org.

Kerstin Karlsson, center, on violin, plays with the Terrible Adult Chamber Orchestra. Embarcadero Media file photo taken Feb. 26, 2017. (Photo by Veronica Weber)

Listen to an egalitarian chamber orchestra al fresco

Did you pick up a classical instrument during the pandemic, and are now wishing to hear some live tunes? Turns out, there’s a chance to do just that, right in time for some July Fourth favorites.

On Sunday at 2 p.m., the Terrible Adult Chamber Orchestra of Silicon Valley (TACO) is holding a free open rehearsal for musicians of all skill levels.

This will be the first gathering of the full orchestral team since the beginning of the pandemic, and the plan is to play tunes, including “Fanfare for the Common Man,” and “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” throughout the afternoon.

Director and Conductor Cathy Humphers Smith said that the last session TACO was all together was in February 2020. Prior to that, the team had met for open sessions, which had been held monthly since TACO was created 10 years ago.

For this concert, Smith said, “I already have 65, 70 musicians who have signed up to play.”

Smith said that two or three musicians have signed up for TACO every month over the course of the pandemic, with some practicing more than they ever had and some who have never played with an orchestra.

The group will meet at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts (500 Castro St.) and space will be available to lay out on the grass, enjoy some picnic foods, and delight in the music. Go to mountainview.gov.

(Image via Getty)

Dress up your doggies in Foster City

In Foster City, dogs take center stage for the Fourth of July.

This year, the city will host its annual dog contest, both virtually and in person, with 2021’s categories including “most patriotic,” “best trick,” and “fastest eater.”

According to Building Services Coordinator Tiernan Kang, the fastest eater category has been the most popular and likely the most entertaining event for both dogs and dog-lovers. “We just drop the food in front of them, and away they go,” he said.

Some categories (like these latter two) will require in-person attendance at Leo Ryan Park; city staff is following San Mateo County’s COVID-19 regulations. Pancakes and a trivia contest are also among the city’s holiday offerings. Go to fostercity.org.

Do good and have fun with the city of Mountain View

The city of Mountain View is encouraging locals to participate in volunteer events and outdoor fun for the week leading up to America’s birthday.

“Celebrate with Service” events through Saturday, July 3, include making kits for pediatric patients, being kind to a neighbor, and planting trees at four area parks.

The city is also offering camping activity sets for purchase through July 2, featuring s’mores kits, constellation charts, crafts and more.

Chief Communications Officer Lenka Wright said that these events were planned largely because of the cancellation of the annual San Francisco Symphony concert and fireworks at Shoreline Amphitheatre.

“This is the first time that the city of Mountain View has offered engaging activities like these in recognition of Independence Day,” she said, noting that the camp-out kits had nearly sold out as of June 29. Go to mountainview.gov.

The wonderful natural atmospher of Wunderlich Park. (Photo by Michelle Le)

Celebrate local flora and fauna with a hike or bike ride

Take advantage of access to the great outdoors across the Peninsula by grabbing those hiking boots or bicycle helmets.

Try a moderate stroll on the Oljon Trail at El Corte de Madera Creek Preserve in Redwood City, or push it to the limit with the eight available trails at Wunderlich County Park in Woodside.

If you want to breathe in the fresh air on two wheels, take your bike out for a ride on Foothill Expressway. The four-lane road is popular among cyclists on weekend mornings, but don’t let that deter you if you’re just beginning your two-wheel journey. Make sure to follow bicycle safety and traffic rules, and don’t wear headphones as you cycle.

Half Moon Bay’s Ol’ Fashioned 4th of July Parade & Festival kicks off at 11 a.m. this Sunday. (Image courtesy of Miramar Events)

Fill up on flapjacks for the parade in Half Moon Bay

Is there any better way to celebrate America than through breakfast food? We’re sure many would agree: digging into some pancakes, sausage and coffee is a great start to your Fourth of July celebration.

This year, the Half Moon Bay Lions Club will be hosting its annual pancake breakfast from 8 a.m. until noon at City Hall parking lot (501 Main St.) before kicking off the city’s annual Fourth of July parade. Longtime member Rich Picchi noted that, prior to the pandemic, the pancake breakfast often saw up to 500 hungry guests, which treasurer Clayton Jolley credits to making the special recipe on the industrial grill.

“We have always gotten rave reviews, even if we keep it simple,” Jolley said.

Tickets for the event are $10. Proceeds will be used to support various local youth groups.

Half Moon Bay’s Ol’ Fashioned 4th of July Parade & Festival runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Go to july4th.miramarevents.

Glorious summer audio atmosphere (here with the SF Symphony in 2019) returns to Frost Amphitheater this week. (Courtesy Stanford Live)

More options

• Kronos Quartet at Frost Amphitheater, Stanford University

Saturday, July 3, 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $30.

Go to live.stanford.edu.

• California’s Great America Fourth of July Celebration, Santa Clara

Sunday, July 4, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Go to cagreatamerica.com.

• Independence Day Caravan, Los Altos Hills

Sunday, July 4, 10 a.m.

Go to losaltoshills.ca.gov.


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Sometimes our work is a collaborative effort, hence the "staff" byline. The best of what to eat, see and do on the SF Peninsula.

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