Guide to Summer, Part 4: The Best Outdoor US Music Venues


Summer is in full swing, and it’s got us doing our best to spend as much time as we can outside and enjoy it while it lasts. To help you make the most of the season, we’ve teamed up with Victoria lager to present a Guide to Summer, a four-part series presenting some of the best outdoor spots, events, and ideas in the country. In this installment, we take a look at our favorite outdoor music venues, from a geological wonder in Colorado to a modern take on ancient construction. Check it out and let us know what we missed. Then be sure to catch our other posts on themed BBQ ideas, top picnic spots, and the greatest outdoor film series.

Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Morrison CO

The first venue to get name-checked when outdoor concerts get mentioned, Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado is a geological marvel in addition to providing an acoustically unmatched entertainment experience. Owned by the city of Denver, the ampitheatre is surrounded by natural rock formations that date back millions of years, in an area that also offers breathtaking hiking, biking, and climbing opportunities. Performances have been held on the grounds for over 100 years, further adding to the grand sense of history on the site.

Upcoming highlights: The Flaming Lips w/ Primus, Aug 3; Stevie Nicks, Aug 9; Thievery Corporation w/ Ghostland Observatory, Aug 14; Kings of Leon, Aug 31 & Sep 1

Click through the links below for more of our outdoor venue picks.

The Gorge Amphitheatre, George WA

The Gorge Amphitheatre in central Washington state, home of the Sasquatch music festival for the last few years, might be the most beautiful outdoor venue in the country. The stage is positioned in front of the Grand Canyon-esque gorge, above the river, which runs through the bottom. Looking out on it from up on the grassy hill, it’s almost hard to believe it’s real. – Sophie Weiner

Upcoming highlights: Soundgarden, July 30; Identity Festival, Sep 10

Prospect Park Bandshell, Brooklyn NY

SummerStage may be the big name in free outdoor NYC concerts, but those in the know flock to the Prospect Park Bandshell, where Celebrate Brooklyn has been hosting one of the city’s best public programs for over 30 years now. The lineup is always splendidly diverse, from classical and jazz music to modern indie-rock faves, with comedy, dance, and film screenings thrown in for good measure. A handful of high-profile benefit concerts help raise funds to keep the program rolling, but the majority of the events on the calendar are free.

Upcoming highlights: Ra Ra Riot w/ Delicate Steve, Aug 5; Bon Iver, Aug 10; Cut Copy w/ Foster the People, Aug 11

The Greek Theatre at UC Berkeley

Get him to the Greek — but not the one in LA. While that may be Russell Brand’s venue of choice (um, at least in the movie), we prefer Berkeley’s Greek Theatre a bit farther north. For one, there’s some really cool history behind it: way back in 1903, Teddy Roosevelt spoke at UC Berkeley’s graduation ceremony in the then half-built theater. Plus, the design itself is modeled on an actual ancient Greek theater known for its remarkable acoustics — the Sanctuary of Asklepios in Epidaurus, Greece. – Leah Taylor

Upcoming highlights: Adele w/ Wanda Jackson, Aug 14; Fleet Foxes w/ The Walkmen, Sep 10; Portishead, Oct 22

Bank of America Pavilion, Boston MA

Bank of America Pavilion is a spacious tent-covered theater in Boston, Massachusetts that seats approximately 5,000 people. The venue is right on the water, so there is always a nice ocean breeze, perfect for a walk or to cool off the enthusiastic crowd. Prior to and during the concerts, the venue hosts many booths that sell food and drinks, games, and band apparel. – Fiona Guedalia

Upcoming highlights: Wiz Khalifa, July 30; Death Cab for Cutie, Aug 1; TV on the Radio, Sep 6; Pretty Lights, Sep 23

Don’t see your favorite venue here? Tell us about it in the comments below!