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The 50 Best Things to Do this Summer in All 50 States: The West

Summer is coming, and with it comes tons of great summer events. Every state has more than enough to do, but what can you absolutely not miss? We’ve collected iconic, quirky, and just plain fun things to do this summer from every state. Here, the best of the best in every state in the West.

Make Music Pasadena Photo by porcupiny (flickr.com/photos/porcupiny)

Make Music Pasadena. Photo by porcupiny

Where? Pasadena, California
What? Make Music Pasadena
When? June 6
Why Go? Make Music Pasadena is an impressive feat: a festival that spans 20 blocks of Pasadena, with 5 main stages, over 30 venues, and 150 up-and-coming and seasoned performers, from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. Bonus? The event is totally free to the public. makemusicpasadena.org.

Where? Butte, Montana
What? Montana Folk Festival
When? July 10–12
Why Go? A festival to celebrate the American West, Montana’s Folk Festival has all the music, cuisine, and culture of the Old West that you could want. Traditional artists and craft vendors will show their works, and vendors will serve foods traditional to both the natives and the original immigrants of the area. Free to attend. montanafolkfestival.com.

Where? Fairbanks, Alaska
What? Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival
When? July 12–26
Why Go? It’s summer camp for adults. This time of year means long days for Fairbanks, so it’s the perfect setting to see some shows (which occur every day and vary in price) or learn some new skills at one of the many workshops, which range from jazz classes to cabaret dancing to culinary arts. From $30 per workshop. fsaf.org.

Hula dancer Photo by Ray_from_LA ()

Hula dancer. Photo by Ray_from_LA

Where? Honolulu, Hawaii
What? 38th Annual Prince Lot Hula Festival
When? July 18–19
Why Go? Moanalua Gardens hosts the Prince Lot Hula Festival, Hawaii’s largest non-competitive hula event. Named for the prince that brought the iconic dance back to Moanalua after it was banned, the festival brings out professional hula groups to perform both ancient and modern hula styles while crowds enjoy local foods and drinks. If the dancing isn’t reason enough, the setting is: Moanalua Gardens is a 24-acre park straight out of a zen dream. Free to attend. moanaluagardensfoundation.org

Where? Denver, Colorado
What? The Underground Music Showcase
When? July 23–26
Why Go? The best place to be a part of Colorado’s growing music scene, Underground is known as the place to go for emerging indie acts. This year’s fest brings with it over 400 acts, local and national. From $50. theums.com.

Where? Salt Lake City, Utah
What? Days of ’47 Dixie Celebration
When? July 24
Why Go? The Days of ’47 begin in March but culminate at the end of July in a massive parade. That day is also a state-wide holiday commemorating Utah’s pioneers; it’s one of the biggest and the oldest in the United States. A giant Utahan party and parade, the Dixie Celebration is a must-see. Free to attend. daysof47.com.

Where? Rock Springs, Wyoming
What? The Sweetwater County Fair
When? July 26–August 2
Why Go? Also known as Wyoming’s Big Show, this fair brings in out-of-towners from miles around to see how Wyoming really does it. Livestock exhibits, rodeo action, carnival rides, and classic Western fare make this the true Wyoming experience. Free to attend. sweetwaterevents.com.

Bite of Oregon Photo by Loren Kerns (flickr.com/photos/lorenkerns)

Bite of Oregon. Photo by Loren Kerns.

Where? Portland, Oregon
What? Bite of Oregon
When? August 7–9
Why Go? Bite of Oregon is a food, wine, and beer festival on the Portland waterfront celebrating the unique culture of the region. Sample craft beer from Oregon’s 120 local brewing companies, and eat locally sourced seafood, berries, vegetables, and dairy. $6 per day. biteoforegon.com.

Where? Black Rock Desert, Nevada
What? Burning Man
When? August 30–September 7
Why Go? Burning Man is synonymous with self-expression. People from all over the world migrate down to the desert for a week of spiritual healing, debauchery, and, of course, to light the wooden man on fire. This year’s theme is “Carnival of Mirrors,” a play on classic theaters of illusion. $390. Ticket registration starts July 29. burningman.org.

Bumbershoot, 1972 Photo courtesy of Seattle Municipal Archives

Bumbershoot, 1972. Photo courtesy of Seattle Municipal Archives

Where? Seattle, Washington
What? Bumbershoot
When? September 5–7
Why Go? Bumbershoot is more than a music festival, though it brings in most of its massive crowd in for live performances from artists like Zedd, Chance the Rapper, Ellie Goulding, and Hozier. But the fest is also known for its off-beat comedy, dance performances, crafts-making, and theater shows. From $65 per day. bumbershoot.com.

Where? Orofino, Idaho
What? Orofino Lumberjack Days
When? September 17–20
Why Go? This year marks the 68th annual Lumberjack Days, celebrating the history of the timber industry and lumberjacks. The four-day event includes a carnival, parades, an auction, as well as a highly-anticipated contest involving birling, the art of standing on top of a log in water. Free to attend. orofinolumberjackdays.org.

Check out our picks for the best things to do in the Northeast, Southwest, Midwest, and Southeast

Top photo: Burning Man, Nevada, by Bexx Brown-Spinelli.