Top 25 Outdoor Music Venues in the US

The Top Outdoor Music Concert Venues in the US

Road Trip to the Best Outdoor Concert Venues

The pandemic picked a good time to slow down — everything is opening up just in time for summer music season. You know what that means: outdoor concerts! Two of our favorite words individually, and when combined, the whole is even better than the sum of its parts.

Where are you thinking of seeing shows this summer? Thinking of packing your bags and touring with your favorite bands? If you get a chance, make sure to check out the many stellar locations on this list. You’ll be glad you did.

25. Cumberland Caverns - McMinnville, TN

#25 - Cumberland Caverns McMinnville, TN - Top Music Venues in US

Photo: Michael Weintrob

Why Cumberland Caverns is One of America's Top Outdoor Venues

This venue got the bottom spot on the list because we weren’t sure if it’s technically indoors or outdoors, NOT because it isn’t mind-blowingly awesome. Located between Nashville and Chattanooga, the Caverns have been hosting concerts for over 60 years on its stalactite-surrounded stage 333 feet below the surface. It fits up 1,000 of the concertgoers who were lucky enough to get tickets to its legendary shows. In the heart of Tennessee, the Caverns hosts mostly country and bluegrass groups, with the occasional performance from curious rock, EDM, and jam bands.

On the 2021 Schedule: Diamond Rio, Sister Hazel, Paul Thorn, The Allman Betts Band, The Outlaws

Location: 1437 Cumberland Caverns Rd, McMinnville, TN 37110
Event Calendar: via Cumberland Caverns
Tickets: via Eventbrite

24. Leader Bank Pavilion - Boston, MA

#24 - Leader Bank Pavilion Boston, MA - Top Music Venues in US

Photo: CC/Wiki Beyond My Ken

Why Leader Bank Pavilion is One of Top Outdoor Venues in the US

If you’ve driven around the Seaport District in South Boston, we're sure you noticed the large white tent and wondered what it was. We're pleased to inform you that it is a fantastic outdoor music venue, with a bustling summer schedule for you to enjoy. Opened in 1994, the 5,200 capacity venue is located near the heart of the city, making its diverse genre shows super convenient to get to.

On the 2021 Schedule: Lindsey Stirling, Counting Crows, Jazon Mraz, Harry Connick Jr., Lord Huron, Alice Cooper, Megadeth, Quinn XCII

Location: 290 Northern Ave, Boston, MA 02210
Event Calendar & Tickets: via Live Nation

23. Ruoff Music Center - Noblesville, IN

#23 - Ruoff (Deer Creek) Music Center Noblesville, IN - Top Outdoor Concert Venues

Photo by Live Nation Indiana Courtesy of Hamilton County Tourism

Why Ruoff Music Center is One of Top Outdoor Venues in the US

Formerly known as Deer Creek Music Center, Verizon Wireless Music Center, and then Klipsch Music Center, it seems fair to say that this amphitheater is, and always will be, a music center. Located in central Indiana, a short drive outside of Indianapolis, Ruoff Music Center opened its doors in 1989. It’s pavilion and giant lawn can fit over 24,000 concertgoers, making it the largest outdoor venue in the Indianapolis area. Over the years, Deer Creek (or whatever it’s called) has been a favorite place to play for the Grateful Dead and Phish, and it’s still frequented by popular bands every year.

On the 2021 Schedule: Chicago, Phish, The Black Crowes, Dave Matthews Band, Kings of Leon, Brad Paisley, Maroon 5, Korn & Staind, Brooks & Dunn, Jonas Brothers

Location: 12880 E 146th St, Noblesville, IN 46060
Event Calendar & Tickets: via Live Nation

22. Bethel Woods Center For The Arts - Bethel, NY

#22 - Bethel Woods Center for the Arts - Best Outdoor Music Venues

Photo Courtesy of Bethel Woods Center for the Arts

Why Bethel Woods is One of the Top Outdoor Venues in the US

We're sure you’ve heard of the first music festival that was played at Bethel Woods in mid-August 1969. Bringing together acts like Jimi Hendrix, Santana, and the Grateful Dead, plus an estimated 400,000 music fans and an extraordinarily unprepared crew, Bethel Woods Center For The Arts is located on the exact grounds of the legendary Woodstock Music Festival. Today, the venue is much more prepared to handle and host live music events with its beautiful pavilion and lawn, though its capacity is closer to 15,000 guests, and tickets aren’t usually free anymore. Be sure to check out the Woodstock Museum when you visit!

On the 2021 Schedule: Chicago, Zac Brown Band, Harry Connick Jr., Lynyrd Skynyrd, Dead & Company, John Fogerty, Pitbull, The Black Crowes, Chris Stapleton, Steely Dan, Santana, ZZ Top, James Taylor

Location: 200 Hurd Rd, Bethel, NY 12720
Event Calendar: via Bethel Woods Center for the Arts
Tickets: via Ticketmaster

21. Canandaigua Music Arts Center - Canandaigua, NY

#21 - Canandaigua Music Arts Center - Canandaigua, NY - CMAC Outdoor Amphitheater

Photo Courtesy of CMAC Events

Why CMAC is One of Top Outdoor Venues in the US

One of the many gems of Upstate New York, the Canandaigua Music Arts Center (also known as “CMAC”) is located in the beautiful Finger Lakes region of the state near Syracuse and Rochester. CMAC was opened in 1983 and its arched, shell-shaped pavilion was rebuilt and expanded in 2005. Today, between the gorgeous pavilion and the relaxed lawn, over 15,000 fans pack the center for its concert, theater, and orchestra productions. It’s a popular destination for jam bands passing through the area in addition to local stars, country groups, and plenty more!

On the 2021 Schedule: Dierks Bentley, Brandi Carlile, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Luke Combs, Harry Connick Jr., King Crimson, Jason Mraz, Collective Soul, Darius Rucker

Location: 4355 Lakeshore Dr, Canandaigua, NY 14424
Event Calendar & Tickets: via CMAC Events

20. Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island - Chicago, IL

#20 - Huntington Bank Pavilion At Northerly Island - Chicago, IL - Top Concert Venues

Photo: Will Byington Photography

Why Huntington Bank Pavilion is One of Top Outdoor Venues in the US

Jutting out on a peninsula into Lake Michigan, this venue is a classic Midwest stop for all the biggest acts around. The pavilion first opened in 2005 with a capacity of just 8,000, but in 2013 it was expanded and reopened with a staggeringly huge capacity of over 30,000. It sits next to the heart of Chicago, with a spectacular view of the skyline from anywhere in the venue. Kick back, relax, and enjoy the good life at some of their incredible shows this season.

On the 2021 Schedule: Dave Matthews Band, Jazon Mraz, Greta Van Fleet, 311, Deftones, Alice Cooper, Goo Goo Dolls

Location: 1300 S Linn White Dr, Chicago, IL 60605
Event Calendar & Tickets: via Live Nation

19. Mandalay Bay Beach - Las Vegas, NV

#19 - Mandalay Bay Beach Las Vegas, NV - Top Outdoor Concert Venues

Photo Courtesy MGM Resorts

Why Mandalay Bay Beach is One of the Top Outdoor Venues in the US

Keeping Vegas’ endless parties alive in style, Mandalay Bay Beach is the city’s largest outdoor music venue, fitting around 12,000 guests. What makes it ultra-cool is the fact that you can enjoy the venue’s reggae, EDM, and ska shows from its massive wave pool — it’s the ultimate summer pool party.

On the 2021 Schedule: Sublime, Rebelution, Iration

Location: 3950 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89119
Event Calendar: via MGM Resorts
Tickets: via MGM Resorts

18. Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena - Stateline, NV

#18 - Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena Stateline, NV - Top Concert Venues

Photo Courtesy of Harveys Lake Tahoe

Why Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena is One of Top Outdoor Venues in the US

Overlooking Lake Tahoe from its southeast corner, with an incredible view of mountain peaks and the lake’s classic blue water, the Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena (formerly known as Harveys Outdoor Amphitheater) is one of the US’s top destinations for outdoor summer concerts. Besides the fantastic views and music, you’ll catch a bewildering orange sunset over the lake and the mountains behind the stage. Harveys casino started hosting concerts in 1992, and the amphitheater was later moved to its current spot, where it holds around 9,000 concertgoers. Just a few hours east of Sacramento and the Bay Area, it’s the perfect excuse (in case you needed one) to spend a weekend at Lake Tahoe.

On the 2021 Schedule: Old Dominion, Roger Daltrey, Phish, Miranda Lambert, Train, Alabama, Kenny Chesney

Location: Highway, 50 Stateline Ave, Stateline, NV 89449
Event Calendar: via Another Planet Entertainment
Tickets: via Ticketmaster

17. Hearst Greek Theatre - Berkeley, CA

#17 - Hearst Greek Theatre Berkeley, CA - Top Music Venues in the US

 Photo: David Park/Flickr

Why Hearst Greek Theatre is One of the Top Venues in the US

The Greek Theatre, located on UC Berkeley’s campus and the site of the university’s graduation ceremony, is a destination venue for countless bands. Enjoy the spectacular views of the Bay, the iconic Greek column architecture, and the rocking music of your favorite artists. Opened in 1903 for a student theatre production, the Greek Theatre still hosts both theatre and concerts today. The 8,500 capacity venue pulls in some fantastic talent and is a top outdoor music venue.

On the 2021 Schedule: Bob Weir & Wolf Bros, The String Cheese Incident, Atmosphere

Location: 2001 Gayley Rd, Berkeley, CA 94720
Event Calendar: via Hearst Greek Theatre
Tickets: via Ticketmaster

16. Merriweather Post Pavilion - Columbia, MD

#16 - Merriweather Post Pavilion Columbia, MD - Top US Outdoor Music Venues

Photo: Will Cox Photography

Why Merriweather Post Pavilion is One of the Top Outdoor Venues

Located in the heart of the aptly named Symphony Woods, Merriweather Post Pavilion (lovingly called “MPP” by fans) was originally built for the National Symphony Orchestra and designed by famed weirdo architect Frank Gehry. It opened in 1967, with some minor updates and redesign since then, like the addition of solar panels to its huge wooden roof. It’s hosted legendary acts including Led Zeppelin, The Who, and Jimi Hendrix, and the 20,000 capacity venue continues to host an action-packed schedule each year.

On the 2021 Schedule: Dave Matthews Band, Hall & Oates, My Morning Jacket, New Kids on the Block, Zac Brown Band, Kings of Leon, Alanis Morissette, Rod Stewart

Location: 10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy, Columbia, MD 21044
Event Calendar: via Merriweather Post Pavilion
Tickets: via Ticketmaster

15. The Pavilion at Ravinia Festival - Highland Park, IL

#15 - The Pavilion at Ravinia Highland Park, IL - Top Outdoor Music Venues

Photo Courtesy of Ravinia Festival

Why Ravinia is One of the Top Outdoor Venues in the US

Opening in 1904 and home to the oldest outdoor music festival in the U.S., Ravinia is located in a secluded forest just north of busy Chicago. Its peaceful park grounds are the perfect place for a fun day with the family, followed by a calming concert in the evening. Ravinia is the home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, with daily performances throughout their festival all summer long. The pavilion holds a little over 3,300 guests in an intimate setting, whether it’s for a jazz, classical, rock, or pop show.

On the 2021 Schedule: Willie Nelson, Gladys Knight, Ben Folds, Counting Crows, John Legend, The Beach Boys, Collective Soul, Lady A, Train, King Crimson, Lauryn Hill

Location: 418 Sheridan Rd, Highland Park, IL 60035
Event Calendar: via Ravinia
Tickets: via Ravinia

14. Saratoga Performing Arts Center - Saratoga Springs, NY

#14 - Saratoga Performing Arts Center NY - Best Outdoor Concert Venues

Photo by Dave Bigler, Courtesy Saratoga Performing Arts Center

Why SPAC is One of the Top Outdoor Venues in the US

Since its opening in 1966, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (also known as “SPAC”) has hosted countless musical, theatre, and dance acts. It’s home to the New York City Ballet and the Philadelphia Orchestra, and it’s a favorite stop for huge bands — particularly, jam bands — on their tours. SPAC is located in the middle of a 2,400-acre nature park and preserve, with geysers and springs within a short hike from the 25,000 capacity venue. It’s the perfect place to spread out your picnic blanket and enjoy a show after a beautiful hike this summer.

On the 2021 Schedule: Maroon 5, The Black Crowes, Alanis Morissette, Dave Matthews Band, James Taylor

Location: 108 Avenue of the Pines, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
Event Calendar: via SPAC
Tickets: via SPAC

13. Ascend Amphitheater - Nashville, TN

#13 - Ascend Amphitheater Nashville - Best Outdoor Music Venues

Photo by aLive Coverage, Courtesy of Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp

Why Ascend Amphitheater is One of Top Outdoor Venues in the US

In the heart of downtown Nashville along the banks of the Cumberland River, the Ascend Amphitheater is one of the coolest urban outdoor music venues. Concert attendees are treated to a fantastic view of the Nashville skyline, the starry night sky, and an epic show, all at once. The facade on the stage looks like a mix of retro 1920s art deco architecture and futuristic 1980s space-age functionalism, but don’t be fooled — Ascend opened for the first time in 2015. With an intimate capacity around 7,000, there isn’t a bad place to sit in the whole amphitheater. But if you really want an ascendant experience, try to get one of the 100 spots in the VIP boxes, rising above the crowd for a spectacular view of the city and show.

On the 2021 Schedule: Jimmy Buffett, The Black Crowes, Phish, Kings of Leon, NAS, John Legend, Wilco, Modest Mouse, 3 Doors Down, John Legend, Dropkick Murphys

Location: 310 1st Ave S, Nashville, TN 37201
Event Calendar: via LiveNation
Tickets: via Ticketmaster

12. KettleHouse Amphitheater - Bonner, MT

#12 - KettleHouse Amphitheater Bonner, MT - Best Outdoor Concert Venues

Photo: Neubauer Media, Courtesy of Logjam Presents

Why KettleHouse Amphitheater is One of the Top Outdoor Venues

There are few places in Montana that aren’t breathtakingly beautiful, and the KettleHouse Amphitheater is no exception. Located just outside Missoula on the banks of the Blackfoot River, the amphitheater became an instant hit after its opening in summer 2017. It comfortably fits 4,000 concertgoers to appreciate the spectacular canyon view and how-could-an-artist-this-huge-play-a-venue-this-small? live acts simultaneously. Just so you know: yes, you can fly to Missoula, and the amphitheater is just a short 15-minute drive from the airport. See you there!

On the 2021 Schedule: Brandi Carlile, The Marshall Tucker Band, Wilco & Sleater-Kinney, Primus, Herbie Hancock, Shakey Graves, Modest Mouse, Death Cab for Cutie, Steve Miller Band, Billy Strings

Location: 605 Cold Smoke Lane, Bonner, MT 59823
Event Calendar & Tickets: via LogJam Presents

11. Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park - Chicago, IL

#11 - Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park Chicago, IL - Best Outdoor Music Venues

Photo: Joe Hendrickson/Shutterstock

Why Millennium Park Pavilion is One of the Top Venues

Architectural revolutionary Frank Gehry strikes again, this time with huge, curved metal slabs peeled back from the stage of the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. Located in Millennium Park in the heart of Chicago — with an epic skyline view behind the stage, to boot — the 11,000 capacity venue opened in 2004 and has been hosting incredible concerts ever since, including performances from Robert Plant, Andrew Bird, Bon Iver, Wilco, The Decemberists, and countless nights with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. While the pandemic slowed their 2021 summer schedule, you can tour the venue and park for free and marvel at its architecture — it’s a must-see the next time you’re in the Windy City.

On the 2021 Schedule: Wilco & Sleater-Kinney

Location: 201 East Randolph Street, Chicago, IL 60601
Event Calendar: via Jay Pritzker Pavillion
Tickets: via Ticket Squeeze

10. Shoreline Amphitheatre - Mountain View, CA

#10 - Shoreline Amphitheater Mountainview, CA - America's Top Music Venues

Photo: Uladzik Kryhin/Shutterstock

Why Shoreline Amphitheatre is One of the Top Outdoor Music Venues

Everyone thought Bill Graham, the iconic San Francisco promoter, was crazy when he built the futuristic-looking Shoreline Amphitheatre in 1986. Not only was the giant fiberglass tent unprecedented (and nobody knew what it would sound like), but Shoreline was built on the site of a massive landfill in the heart of Silicon Valley! When viewed from above, Shoreline is actually the shape of the Grateful Dead’s “stealie” logo, and after a few performances there, the Dead had figured out how to make it sound wonderful and pack its 22,000 capacity. Floods of fans still fill its giant lawn for huge shows today.

On the 2021 Schedule: The Jonas Brothers, Kiss, The Doobie Brothers, Maroon 5, Florida Georgia Line, Santana + Earth, Backstreet Boys

Location: 1 Amphitheatre Pkwy, Mountain View, CA 94043
Event Calendar & Tickets: via Live Nation

9. Jones Beach Theater - Wantagh, NY

#9 - Jones Beach Theater Wantagh, NY - Top Outdoor Venues in US

Photo: Joe Shlabotnik/Flickr 

Why Jones Beach Theater is one of the Top Outdoor Music Venues

On the shores of Long Island overlooking Zachs Bay, the Jones Beach Theater is a fan-favorite outdoor venue for summer shows. The stage itself juts out into the bay, making it look as though performers are walking on water throughout the night. Opened in 1952 as a venue for musicals, this perfect location was later used for concerts and expanded to fit 15,000 fans. It suffered from severe flooding and structural damage during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, leading to a $20 million renovation, but it was a triumphant moment when concerts resumed for an exciting summer season in 2013. It will take more than a hurricane — or a pandemic, for that matter — to wash away Jones Beach Theater.

On the 2021 Schedule: Lady A, Jimmy Buffett, Jason Aldean, Kings of Leon, James Taylor, Zac Brown Band, Alanis Morissette, Dave Matthews Band, Steely Dan, Korn, 3 Doors Down, Jimmy Buffett

Location: 895 Bay Pkwy, Wantagh, NY 11793
Event Calendar & Tickets: via Live Nation

8. Greek Theatre - Los Angeles, CA

#8 - Greek Theatre Los Angeles, CA - Top Outdoor Music Venues

Photo: Michael Gordon/Shutterstock

Why the Greek Theatre (LA) is One of the Top Outdoor Venues

Not to be confused with Berkeley’s Greek Theatre, “The Greek” in L.A. is another spectacular California outdoor venue. L.A.’s Greek Theatre is situated in Griffith Park; a quiet respite near the center of the sprawling metropolis. Enjoy the park’s dozens of acres, including hiking trails, golfing, and picnic grounds. And while you’re wandering around, you may come to the clearing and discover the theatre — you’d never even know that you’re in the heart of America’s second largest city. Built in 1929 and seating nearly 6,000 guests, the Greek Theatre is a must-see, classic outdoor venue.

On the 2021 Schedule: King Crimson, Joe Bonamassa, Twenty One Pilots, Rufus Wainwright, Smokey Robinson, John Legend, Greta Van Fleet, Deftones, Barenaked Ladies, Alicia Keys, Goo Goo Dolls

Location: 2700 N Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027
Event Calendar: via the LA Greek Theatre
Tickets: via Ticketmaster

7. Alpine Valley Music Theatre - East Troy, WI

#7 - Alpine Valley Music Theatre East Troy, WI - Best Outdoor Concert Venues

Photo: Brett Bergen Photography

Why Alpine Valley is One of the Best Outdoor Music Venues

Nearly equidistant from Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, and Rockford, Alpine Valley is the second largest amphitheater in the U.S., with a staggering capacity of around 37,000 guests. Over the years, Alpine Valley has been a favorite venue for huge bands, especially jam bands including the Grateful Dead and Phish, who essentially put it on the map. It has also hosted other legendary acts including Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews Band, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton, and Aerosmith. Over the years, it has opened and closed for shows a few times. The venue was sold to a new owner in 2017, temporarily putting a pause on concerts. It then reopened; however, due to the pandemic, the summer 2021 schedule is still quite bare. Keep an eye out for shows to come back to Alpine Valley soon!

On the 2022 Schedule: Rage Against The Machine & Run The Jewels

Location: 2699 Co Rd D, East Troy, WI 53120
Event Calendar: via Live Nation
Tickets: via Live Nation

6. Starlight Theatre - Kansas City, MO

#6 - Starlight Theatre Kansas City, MO - Top Outdoor Music Venue

Photo Courtesy of Starlight Theatre

Why Starlight Theatre is One of the Top Music Venues

One of the few (and one of the largest) self-producing theatres, the Starlight Theatre has a rich history dating back nearly 100 years. Romania’s Queen Marie visited Kansas City in the 1920s, inspiring the city to build an outdoor performance venue. Construction finally began in 1949 and the theatre opened in 1950. Since then, it’s hosted a combination of Broadway musicals and concerts on the stage beneath its iconic castle-like facade. It’s become a mainstay and landmark of Kansas City, and continues to host shows for audiences up to its 8,000 capacity each summer.

On the 2021 Schedule: Jason Mraz, Bill Burr, Pitbull with Iggy Azalea, Matchbox Twenty, Barenaked Ladies, Goo Goo Dolls, Alicia Keys, The Doobie Brothers

Location: 4600 Starlight Rd, Kansas City, MO 64132
Event Calendar: via Starlight Theatre
Tickets: via Starlight Theatre

5. Dillon Amphitheater - Dillon, CO

#5 - Dillon Amphitheater Dillon, CO - Top Outdoor Concert Venues in US

Photo by Jenise Jensen Courtesy of Town of Dillion

Why Dillon Amphitheater is one of the Top Venues

Like the KettleHouse Amphitheater, the Dillon Amphitheater is a relatively recent and remote build. Reopened after expanding and renovating in 2018, there are few venues more beautiful. The 3,600-capacity pavilion and lawn are located on the shore of Lake Dillon in the heart of Summit County, Colorado, about an hour and a half west of Denver. While you sit back and enjoy some of the biggest acts around, you’re surrounded by a spectacular 360-degree view of the Rocky Mountains, with peaks still covered in snow even in July and August. Bear in mind that if you travel from sea-level, your drinks will be twice as effective — just one perk of seeing shows in Colorado. Either way, make sure you stay hydrated, kick back and relax Colorado-style (whatever that means to you — we don’t judge), and enjoy the show.

On the 2021 Schedule: Lettuce, String Cheese Incident, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Melissa Etheridge, Trombone Shorty, Gov't Mule, Phil Lesh & Friends

Location: 201 W Lodgepole St, Dillon, CO 80435
Event Calendar: via Dillon Amphitheater
Tickets: via ShowClix

4. Crosby Theatre - Santa Fe, NM

#4 - Crosby Theatre Santa Fe, NM - Top Outdoor Concert Venues in US

Photo by Kate Russell, Courtesy of the Santa Fe Opera

Why Crosby Theatre is One of the Top Outdoor Venues

Nestled in the Jemez and Sangre De Cristo Mountains just outside Santa Fe, the art capital of the Southwest, the Crosby Theatre boasts a spectacular view and stunning architecture. The audience seating rises like a wave to capture the sounds of the stage under its magnificent curved roof. A small, 2,000-capacity intimate venue, the Crosby has been home to the Santa Fe Opera since its opening in 1957. They don’t host many other genres, but if you’re an opera fan, there’s no better place to see your favorite plays.

On the 2021 Schedule: The Marriage of Figaro, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Lord Cries

Location: 301 Opera Dr, Santa Fe, NM 87506
Event Calendar: via Santa Fe Opera
Tickets: via Santa Fe Opera

3. Hollywood Bowl - Los Angeles, CA

#3 - Hollywood Bowl Los Angeles, CA - Top US Outdoor Concert Venues

Photo: chirajuti/Shutterstock

Why Hollywood Bowl is One of the Top Outdoor Music Venues

No venue can match the sparkly, firework flamboyance of the Hollywood Bowl. It’s the country’s largest natural outdoor amphitheater, and since opening in the 1920s, it has become one of the most iconic outdoor venues in the U.S. Different shell designs surround the stage, providing fine-tuned acoustics and a colorful aesthetic when viewed from the expansive 18,000-capacity lawn. The venue exploded with fame when The Beatles performed there in the 1960s, and it has also showcased Fred Astaire, Tina Turner, and Aretha Franklin. Today, the Hollywood Bowl is still one of the most coveted stages for acts from around the world, and it’s also a home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Be sure to check out the free Hollywood Bowl Museum during the day when you go visit.

On the 2021 Schedule: Kamasi Washington, Ziggy Marley, Yo-Yo Ma, H.E.R., Van Morrison, Hall & Oates, Alanis Morissette, Herbie Hancock

Location: 2301 N Highland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90068
Event Calendar: via Hollywood Bowl
Tickets: via Ticketmaster

2. Gorge Amphitheatre - George, WA

#2 - Gorge Amphitheatre George, WA - Top Outdoor Music Venues in US

Photo: Al Case/Flickr

Why the Gorge is One of the Top Outdoor Music Venues

Sometimes it’s a good thing when a venue is in the middle-of-nowhere. The Gorge is certainly remote, but it’s situated in such a giant panorama that you’ll never hear anyone complaining about the drive. Instead, it’s the ultimate outdoor-concert destination, complete with a campground alongside the over 20,000-capacity amphitheater. Located on the brink of a — you guessed it — giant gorge, with the Columbia River flowing underneath and the Cascade Mountains majestically sitting on the horizon, countless bands have described their visits to the Gorge as being intensely spiritual. One visit to the Gorge will change your life, and you’ll want to make the trek again forever.

On the 2021 Schedule: Brandi Carlile, Sheryl Crow, The Lumineers, Phish, Dave Matthews Band, Tame Impala, Kiss

Location: 754 Silica Rd NW, George, WA 98848
Event Calendar: via Live Nation
Tickets: via Ticketmaster

1. Red Rocks Amphitheatre - Morrison, CO

#1 - Red Rocks Amphitheatre Morrison, CO - Best Outdoor Concert Venue in US

Photo: Michael Weintrob

Why Red Rocks is the Top Outdoor Music Venue in the US

Story has it that indigenous tribes used the perfect natural amphitheater of Red Rocks for moonlit rituals for thousands of years. Can you blame them? Then, in the early 1900s, promoters came along and decided to formally incorporate the land into a music venue, building a stage and 10,000-capacity arena seating between the two enormous 300+ foot tall, red sandstone rocks. It opened for shows in 1941 and exploded during the 60s and 70s, beginning with the publicity brought by The Beatles’ performances. Ever since, Red Rocks has been flooded with season after season of concerts from the best bands in the world.

Locals refer to it as a “cathedral of music,” and there is a magic in the air at Red Rocks that simply can’t be found at any other venue. As the sun sets, concertgoers are treated to a breathtaking view of Denver and the surrounding plains, located on the horizon just above the stage. Everyone who’s anyone plays, or has played, at Red Rocks, and until erosion washes it away, it will forever be the greatest outdoor music venue in the U.S. And here’s a fun fact: after headlining a show at Red Rocks, performers are given a small piece of the rock to keep as a souvenir, forever reminding them of (what I assume is) one of the most incredible nights of their entire lives.

You can visit Red Rocks during the day and hike around its many trails, circling around martian-looking red rock formations. You also can visit the free museum, which is sort of like a mini Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, listing all the performers who have graced the sandstone stage.

If you only visit one venue on this list, please do us both a favor and make it Red Rocks. Staring up at the legendary rock pillars will be the capstone to your outdoor music venue pilgrimage.

On the 2021 Schedule: literally everyone, including The Avett Brothers, Caamp, Tipper, Widespread Panic, Greensky Bluegrass, Deadmau5, Brandi Carlile, Wilco & Sleater-Kinney, Wu-Tang Clan, The Black Crowes, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Modest Mouse

Location: 18300 W Alameda Pkwy, Morrison, CO 80465
Event Calendar: via Red Rocks
Tickets: via Ticketmaster

What are Your Top Outdoor Venues in the US?

Now that you’ve explored the venues, it’s time to get out there and go see some music! What concerts are you looking forward to this summer? Did we miss any ‘secret’ venues that you love and expect to become popular over the next few years? Leave a comment below!


Andrew Fletcher

Andrew Fletcher is a contributing writer for Binaural Records. He’s from Darien, Connecticut, and currently lives in Denver, Colorado. He’s played guitar for most of his life, and he performs regularly with a few local bands. He loves all sorts of music, and his favorite vinyl to spin is Saudade by Thievery Corporation.

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2 comments

  • Blossom Music Center-Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. 20,000 seat Ampitheatre including Lawn. Summer Home of the Cleveland Orchestra. Situated in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. 200 wooded acres. Architectural design awards. Built in 1959. It DEFINITELY should be on this list!

    Lori Lu
  • Excuse me, where is The Amp in St. Augustine, FL on your list? The Amp has phenomenal acts, an awesome ambiance near the ocean, practices sustainability through the Green Hands initiative, locally sourced food trucks, and much more. Check it out!

    Suzanne

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