Arguably home to the world’s most legendary musicians, California is also the subject of many of the most recognizable songs. So, it’s rather fitting that the Golden State has some of the best venues to showcase such iconic tunes. From waterfront locations to historic venues, we’ve put together a guide to California’s top outdoor concert venues for your listening pleasure. We simply can’t think of better way to spend a summer evening than with some live music under the stars.
The Greek Theater (Berkeley) – The William Randolph Hearst Greek Theater, known by many as simply the Greek Theater, is fashioned after the Greek theater of Epidaurus. The 8,500-seat amphitheater sits on the UC Berkeley campus and offers an eclectic variety of shows with a number of student events and some of the biggest names in music.
The Greek Theater (Los Angeles) – Built into the hillside of the infamous Griffith Park in the 1930s, nowadays the Greek is a modern entertainment venue seating just over 6,000 people. Modeled after a Greek temple, this internationally renowned venue has presented some of the memorable live performances in music history and continues to showcase a wide variety of headline entertainment. The Greek has also been the backdrop of many Hollywood movies including ‘Get Him to the Greek.’
Hollywood Bowl (Los Angeles) – The world’s largest natural amphitheater, the Hollywood Bowl is Southern California’s most iconic concert venue. Nestled in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains, the Bowl is rich with Hollywood history—if you’re lucky you can even spot the Hollywood sign from your seat—hosting the likes of Frank Sinatra and even the Beatles over the years. With a laid-back yet sophisticated ambiance, pre-show picnics are part of the tradition at the Bowl. Featuring today’s greatest artists, classic nights with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and even sing-a-long favorites, we think a summer evening at the Bowl is a must!
Humphrey’s By the Bay Concerts (San Diego) – On the shore of Shelter Island, this outdoor venue offers stunning views of the Marina on one side and Humphreys by the Bay Hotel on the other. An intimate setting with just over a 1,400-seat capacity, the elevated stage ensures a fantastic view from any seat. Concerts run mid-April through October with tickets for popular performers tending to sell out quickly. Make it an overnight getaway with their exclusive dining and hotel packages.
Hyatt Back Bay Amphitheater (Orange County) – The Back Bay Amphitheater at the Hyatt Regency Newport Beach lies alongside Newport Beach’s beautiful natural reserve. Home to the Summer Concert Series presented by Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, get up close and personal with some of your favorite musicians as you enjoy a night of live music by the Bay.
Mountain Winery (Saratoga) – Located in the Santa Cruz Mountains, this 2,500-seat amphitheater with a backdrop of the stone portal of the historic winery feels like a setting more likely to host a Shakespeare troupe than musicians like Chris Isaak, ZZ Top, Sheryl Crow, Blondie and the Plain White T’s. But that’s the charm. The sweeping views and cozy atmosphere make Mountain Winery a Bay-area favorite for summertime shows.
Shoreline Amphitheatre (Mountain View) – Situated in the heart of Silicon Valley, the Shoreline‘s roots are more rock than tech. Built with help from legendary promoter Bill Graham, the amphitheatre was designed to resemble the Grateful Dead’s “steal your face” logo and the Dead played at total of 39 concerts there (though relocated to newly built Levi’s Stadium for the 2015 Fare Thee Well shows). Today, the Shoreline hosts some of the country’s hottest acts, biggest symphonies and orchestras, and a slew of festivals, including the Bridge School Benefit, an annual charity concert organized by musician Neil Young and his ex-wife, Pegi Young.
Stern Grove (San Francisco) – This newly renovated concert meadow located in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park is best known for the Stern Grove Festival, a series of culturally diverse performances. And the best part? Admission is free. Plus, Stern Grove is actually a full outdoor recreation complex, so you can play a game of tennis or croquet and enjoy a picnic amid the eucalyptus trees before the show.
Verizon Wireless Amphitheater (Irvine) – Terraced into Irvine’s hillside, the venue offers an impressive seating capacity of just over 16,000. A great place for festivals, due largely to its enormous lawn section, guests can experience a more laid back and relaxed vibe while they watch their favorite artists. Delight in great views and the biggest names in music in Irvine!
Which outdoor concert venues will you visit this summer?