Mariah Tyler ©
Patricia Doherty
May 24, 2017

Summertime means fun time! Grab the kids (or not) and head to an oceanfront art show in Virginia Beach, meet a mermaid in Brooklyn, or experience the southern elegance of Charleston's cobblestone streets and horse-drawn carriages while moving to live music.

Release your inner Ariel at the Coney Island Mermaid Parade

This iconic, quirky, downright bizarre parade celebrates the beginning of summer in southern Brooklyn. Held on the Saturday closest to June 21 each year, King Neptune and Queen Mermaid, in 2017 Debbie Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie, lead a spectacle of costumed marchers, many in risqué attire in a tribute to the early-20th century Mardi Gras parades. Thousands attend to march, judge, or just witness the madness. 

While you're there, enjoy beachfront amusement parks or a stroll on the lively boardwalk.

More info: coneyisland.com/mermaid-parade

Kevin Griffin / Alamy Stock Photo

Sip rosé in the sky at the Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival

If sunshine, local wines, and a sky painted with hot air balloons conjure up happy thoughts, consider the Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival in Southern California.  

The festival features morning balloon launches, evening balloon glows, wine tastings and competitions, food and wine pairings, and concerts presenting country, rock, and jazz artists.

A craft fair and art exhibits and activities for the children round off a fun-filled weekend. Campsites are also available.

More info: tvbwf.com

Take advantage of three days of free music

They don't call Chicago the "Blues Capital of the World" for nothing.

The Chicago Blues Festival, billed as the largest free blues festival, features three days of performances on five stages by both old favorites and promising newcomers. Past performers have included Ray Charles, B.B. King and Bo Diddley.

It's held in the state-of-the-art Millennium Park, one of Chicago's top tourist destinations.

More info: chicagobluesguide.com

Get your fill of the arts with a side of southern charm at the Spoleto Festival

It's intimate, reeks of old-world charm and yet is a city of enough size to accommodate a large number of arts and culture enthusiasts. This is what makes Charleston, South Carolina the perfect backdrop for the 17-day Spoleto performing arts festival.  

Founded by Pulitzer prize-winning composer Gian Carlo Menotti to mirror the Festival dei Due Mondi in Spoleto, Italy, Spoleto Festival U.S.A. boasts talented artists in over 150 performances of opera, dance, theater, classical music, and jazz. 

All that and a little southern cuisine can't help but create a happy place.

More info: spoletausa.org

Celebrate the "King of Rock 'n' Roll" in his hometown at the Tupelo Elvis Festival

You "Can't Help Falling in Love" with the Tupelo Elvis Festival. This four-day musical celebration honors the life, legacy, and accomplishments of Elvis Presley, Tupelo, Mississippi's native son.  

What would an Elvis bash be without a contest for the ultimate Elvis tribute artist? The winner goes on to represent Tupelo in the final round in Memphis, Tennessee. The festivities also include local food vendors, a pet parade, a beauty pageant, a 5K run and much more.

More info: tupeloelvisfestival.com

RosaIreneBetancourt 7 / Alamy Stock Photo

Browse masterpieces by the sea at the Virginia Beach Boardwalk Art Show

If you're of the belief that summer isn't complete without a beautiful oceanfront view, the Boardwalk Art Show in Virginia Beach may be of interest. One of the oldest and finest outdoor art shows on the East Coast, this four-day festival attracts upwards of 300,000 attendees each year. 

Representing nearly 275 select artists, the show runs along 15 blocks of the Virginia Beach boardwalk with live entertainment, a wide variety of food options, and the Atlantic Ocean as its backdrop. 

More info: virginiamoca.org

Pair craft beers with good eats at Savor

There's nothing like a cold beer on a hot summer day. Recognized as the premier craft beer and food pairing event (who says only wines can be paired?), Savor & Grand Marketplace in Washington D.C. brings together thousands of beer lovers and foodies for the ultimate culinary experience. 

Beer flavor categories ranging from malty and sweet to tart and funky are complimented by appropriate foods, from olive oil cake to brisket, in the Great Hall of the National Building Museum. 

More info: savorcraftbeer.com

Get a taste of Italy at the Pasadena Chalk Festival

California bears a striking resemblance to Florence in June during the Pasadena Chalk Festival. Known in Italy as madonnari, or street painters, these artists have used the street as their canvas for incredible works of art for centuries. In modern times, festivals throughout Europe and North and South America honor these talented artisans. 

This free two-day festival held in Pasadena brings together over 600 skilled artists from all over the world to celebrate the special art form.  

More info: pasadenachalkfestival.com

Max Whittaker/Getty Images

Feel the love at San Francisco Pride

Experience a world-renowned celebration of diversity in San Francisco's "gayborhood."

A colorful extravaganza attracting hundreds of thousands of people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender and their supporters, this is the ultimate LGBT Pride Month event. Held on the last weekend of June each year and highlighted by a spirited parade, this weekend-long festival includes music, gourmet food, and over 300 exhibitors, dancers, and wild entertainers.

More info: sfpride.org

Eat and drink your heart out at the Food & Wine Classic

If it's spectacular bites and libations you're going for, then the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, Colorado is your cup of tea... or flute of champagne. Featured here are the world's most accomplished winemakers, celebrity chefs, and culinary experts in a breathtaking setting. 

Mingle with the A-listers of the culinary world while taking in magnificent views for three glorious days of premier events that will leave your stomach happy. But book early, because this celebration sells out fast.

More info: foodandwine.com/promo/events/aspen-classic

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