Monterey County's heating up, with four - count 'em, four - big weekend events in the county. Foodies are flocking to Pebble Beach Food and Wine, which starts Thursday, to taste food from 60 celebrity chefs and wines from 250 wineries. There's 22 dedicated wine tastings; demonstrations from celebrity chefs like Wolfgang Puck, Thomas Keller, Jacques Pépin, Ming Tsai, Charlie Trotter, Michael Chiarello, Laura Werlin, Michael Symon, and Tyler Florence; lunches and dinners; grand tastings and more. Just down the road, the Pacific Grove Good Old Days Festival has a parade, family activities like pony rides and miniature golf, over 25 bands, theatrical performances, a crafts show, the famous Dunk Tank, a classic car show, historic walking tours, and the Firefighter's Muster competition. New for this year is Sunday's Lady Gaga Look-a-like contest. The events take place Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm on Lighthouse and surrounding areas; download a PDF of the full Good Old Days schedule here.
And just a little further along the coast, you can catch up-and-coming jazz musicians at the Monterey Jazz Festival's Next Generation Festival, which runs Friday through Sunday. See middle school, high school and college big bands, combos and jazz ensembles as they perform and compete. Some of the musicians will go on to play this year's Monterey Jazz Festival, both in their own bands and as part of the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra. Performances, clinics, workshops and jam sessions take place at the Monterey Conference Center, the Portola Hotel and Spa, Fisherman's Wharf, Cannery Row and other venues. Download a PDF with the full performance schedule here. If you're a Mazda Miata fan, head inland for Miatas at Mazda Raceway, a weekend-long celebration of the fun little sports car. If you drive a Miata, you can sign up as a driver and take your car on the track. There's also a Miata car show, a vendor alley, and more. It's $250 for drivers who want to take their cars on the track and $35 for participants who want to ride as passengers on the track. Just want to be surrounded by hundreds of Miatas and check out the vendor area? That part is free.
Award-winning flute and guitar duo AlmaNova recently released "Classical Giuliani," an album of their interpretations of Italian guitarist Giuliani's work. Their previous album of original works, "Debut," was loaded with influences from guitarist Almer Imamovic's homeland, Bosnia. Of note to geeks is the fact that flautist Jessica Pierce covered the song "The Inner Light" from Star Trek: The Next Generation. (You remember, the one where an alien probe makes Picard hallucinate that he's a man on a dying planet who likes to play the flute? That one.) They perform tonight at the Monterey Maritime and History Museum, Custom House Plaza. 7:30 pm, $20.
The Santa Cruz Weekly described San Francisco indie band Monsters Are not Myths as a mix of "Modest Mouse, Queens of the Stone Age and Barenaked Ladies." San Diego's Jon Ji plays a Jack Johnson-esque blend of jazz, folk and blues. The two acts hit Monterey's Jose's Underground Lounge tonight on their way to the Southland. Seaside singer-songwriter Bernadette Conant and ethereal local folkie James Meder. 9 pm, 638 Wave Street. $5.
The recent heavy rains have led to lush vegetation and wildflowers gone wild at Garland Ranch Regional Park in Carmel Valley. Enjoy the park's scenic beauty today at a docent-led hike from Monterey Peninsula Regional Parks District. This easy hike is about 3 miles with an elevation gain of 300 to 600 feet. Meet at the Garland Ranch Visitors Center and bring water and a snack. 9 am - 11 am. Free but attendance is limited; register online under "Free Guided Hikes."