Best Things to Do in the North Bay This May

Best Things to Do in the North Bay This May

Looking for the best events and things to do in the North Bay this May? Although May is officially springtime, the North Bay starts heating up, and summer fun begins in Marin, Sonoma and beyond. This year, May means festivals of all kinds: film, cultural, musical, nautical and more. 

Of course, we’ve done the research for you on the best things to do in the North Bay, but there’s more to making the perfect local getaway to the North Bay. Stop at some of our picks for the best restaurants in the North Bay. And, you can make it a weekend at one of the region’s best places to stay. However you’re feeling, the North Bay is waiting for you. 

Featured photo: Mill Valley Music Festival by Jon Bauer. 

A couple embraces on a crane in the sky in the film Skywalker: A Love Story, screening at DocLands film festival in San Rafael, California
Film still from Skywalker: A Love Story, courtesy of California Film Institute and DocLands.

DocLands Documentary Film Festival

May 2–5

Watch the love story of two thrillseekers from atop a 100-story skyscraper. Or, behold the majesty of California’s native redwood forests. DocLands Film Festival presents meaningful stories in short and feature-length documentaries themed around any one of three narrative themes. The screening schedule also includes DocShorts, a free community screening of documentary shorts on May 3, which several filmmakers will attend. 

More info:

Boats seen head-on sailing through the water at Fisherman's Festival in Bodega Bay, California
Photo by Rawls Frazier.

Bodega Bay Fisherman's Festival

May 4–5

Loads of seafood and quirky events happen at this festival, which celebrates Bodega Bay’s culture and history of fishing. With a pet parade, wooden boat building contest and showy “Blessing of the Boats” ceremony, attendees will come away feeling like veritable fishermen. Add in two days of live music and vendors providing 25 kinds of Sonoma County wine, and you’ve got a great excuse to escape to Bodega Bay for the weekend. Families can also enjoy activities like touch tanks with marine life, jumpy houses and face painting. 

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Person looks at painting during Marin Open Studios gallery showing
Photo courtesy of Marin Open Studios.

Marin Open Studios

May 4–5 & 11–12

All across Marin County, art studios open their doors for the yearly Marin Open Studios. Over 250 artists participate in this massive public showcase of local art, which viewers can see by guiding themselves through any of the many studio stops. If you don’t feel like bopping around different locations, then check out the Preview Gallery, which gathers 250 works at the Sausalito Center for the Arts for a single exhibition. The Preview Gallery is open through May 12, while studios will be open both weekends listed above. 

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Yellow hot rod at May Madness Car Show in San Rafael, California
Photo by Patrycja Lamorte.

Greg Borrelli's Annual Classic Car Show & Parade

May 11

It all started in 1986 with a small gathering of Greg Borrelli’s Hot Rod friends. Today there are several hundred classic cars and hot rods from the early 1920s to muscle cars of the early ’70s. Downtown San Rafael restaurants will be open for outside dining. Feel free to take a break and grab a bite!

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Durand Jones dancing onstage at Mill Valley Music Festival in Mill Valley, California
Photo by Jon Bauer.

Mill Valley Music Festival

May 11–12

Now three years running, the Mill Valley Music Festival presents national acts on a community-oriented platform. See groups including Fleet Foxes, Greensky Bluegrass Band and Thee Sacred Souls, among other great acts from Mill Valley’s Friends Field. Between sets, you can also interact with local vendors, sample some snacks from a food stall or partake in any of the many family activities. 

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Mianoan dancers at the Marin Greek Festival in Novato, California
Photo courtesy of Nativity of Christ church.

Marin Greek Festival

May 24–26

Dive into a gyro at this yearly gathering on a hill in Southern Novato. Surrounded by green rolling hills, visitors can participate in traditional dance or shop their hearts out at the indoor marketplace. Saturday and Sunday feature day-long celebrations, while Friday’s event is an evening glendi (Greek for “celebration”), with live music and dancing to finish off your week. 

More info:

Event Venues

Looking to see what’s happening right now in the North Bay? Our comprehensive list of venues below will help you find what you need to know what’s going on.

Looking for more things to do in the area?

Visit our What to Do in Northern California page!

More Activities in Northern California

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