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Summer Concerts in California

Best Places for Outdoor Music Concerts


We can't think of anything nicer on a summer afternoon or night than a good musical concert. These are our favorites.

Ford Amphitheater, Los Angeles

A smaller venue than the Hollywood Bowl across the freeway, the Ford features musical groups as diverse as the population of the county that owns it. Prices are more than reasonable and even less expensive for the kids, making this a great place for family outings, with tickets for four costing less than a night at the movies with sodas and popcorn.

Greek Theatre, Berkeley

It's one of the state's oldest outdoor concert venues, built in classic Greek style. The location on the UC Berkeley campus has some great views and the lineup is so eclectic that almost everyone can find a concert they'd like to attend.

Greek Theatre, Los Angeles

The Greek is a medium-sized venue that most Angelenos associate with rock concerts - and it's hosted some great ones, but the spectrum of musicians performing there these days is much broader. It's located in a natural canyon that forms a pretty amphitheater, surrounded by trees in Griffith Park.

Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles

Picnics at twilight, laid-back ambiance and the best performers you'll find anywhere grace this long-running summer series that includes classical, jazz, blues and other musical styles.

Humphrey's By the Bay Concerts, San Diego

On the San Diego Bay, this pretty venue features international acts, big-name performers and a great atmosphere.

Mountain Winery, San Jose

The former Paul Masson Winery building forms the backdrop for the stage in a small, intimate venue where you're never far from the stage or performers. Panoramic Silicon Valley views add an extra treat.

MUSE/IQUE, Pasadena

These outdoor concerts are often described as more like an elegant, outdoor dinner party, with everyone getting a seat at a table - and some quite innovative musical programs.

Stern Grove, San Francisco

The concert area is ringed with redwood and eucalyptus trees, the performers are top-notch and the admission is free. Sunday afternoons in San Francisco don't get any better than this.

Villa Montalvo, Saratoga

An outdoor amphitheater on the grounds of a former senator, Villa Montalvo offers a nice program of summer music, but with most of their concerts on weeknights, it's best-suited for local attendees.

Vina Robles Amphitheatre, Paso Robles

Central California's premiere venue catches many of the same acts that appear at the bigger places in the state, in a venue that's one of the most intimate of any on this list.

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