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13 Best Outdoor Concert Venues in the U.S.

13 fantastic music venues to jam out with Mother Nature.

Where is the best place to see a concert in the U.S.? Under the stars on a warm summer’s night in an open-air venue with an excellent sound system. With two giant sandstone rocks creating the perfect environment for audible and visual satisfaction, many music lovers across the country suggest that Colorado’s Red Rocks Amphitheatre takes the cake as the best outdoor amphitheater—and they’re on to something. If you can’t make it to the Centennial State though, the United States has an endless supply of well-ventilated auditoriums, pavilions, and out-of-doors stages that rock and knock the socks off of fans who come to be wowed by superior acoustics while being at one with nature. Read on for 13 of the best outdoor concert venues in the U.S.



1 OF 13

Gorge Amphitheatre

WHERE: George, Washington

Since opening in 1986, the Gorge Amphitheatre has become known as one of the best outdoor concert venues in the world. Settled near the   with the Cascade Mountains in the background, this majestic performance space can fit more than 27,000 visitors, many of whom stay in the nearby campground before shows. Over the years, the Gorge has hosted Pearl Jam, The Police, Dave Matthews Band, Tom Petty, Coldplay, and many more high-profile performers as well as multi-day music festivals.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Spokane and East Washington Travel Guide

2 OF 13

Crosby Theatre

WHERE: Sante Fe, New Mexico

Surrounded by the Jemez and Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the Crosby Theatre is home to the Santa Fe Opera. The open-air theater features a visually arresting roof that curves to capture the “shape of the sound” and to collect rainwater, which is then stored and used for upkeep around the campus. The entire stage and mezzanine roofs span 26,615 square feet. The Crosby Theatre, named after opera company founder John O. Crosby, seats 2,126 guests (with 106 additional standing-room places) from around the world during its July and August opera season. More than 2,000 performances have been given over the years including a mix of classic works and American and world premieres. Both the venue and the performances have received prestigious awards including Festival of the Year at the International Opera Awards.


PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Santa Fe Travel Guide

3 OF 13

Red Rocks Amphitheatre

WHERE: Morrison, Colorado

As the world’s only naturally-occurring and acoustically perfect amphitheater, Red Rocks is one of the very best outdoor music venues in the U.S. Since its grand opening in the summer of 1941, the world’s greatest musicians have graced its stage which is made up of two 300-foot sandstone rocks. The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Jimi Hendrix, Radiohead, U2, Sting, Dolly Parton, and Diana Ross have all rocked the stage. Denver-born architect Burnham Hoyt designed it by balancing functionality with nature, and catching a performance in the presence of these intensely red-hued sandstone monoliths is a must-do for any music-lover. The amphitheater seats close to 10,000 and it is located in Red Rock Park, 6,450 feet above sea level with cinematic views of the surrounding Denver area.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Colorado Travel Guide

4 OF 13

Hollywood Bowl

WHERE: Los Angeles, California

Unquestionably one of the top outdoor concert venues in the U.S., the Hollywood Bowl is a legendary performance space, public park, and picnic ground. During its star-studded history, Fred Astaire, Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Ella Fitzgerald, Janis Joplin, and James Brown have appeared on its world-famous stage. The Los Angeles Philharmonic performed its first Easter Sunrise Service back in 1921 and has continued to call this iconic venue home ever since. Snag tickets for a star-studded show during The Bowl’s action-packed summer season from April to October.

INSIDER TIPWhen you visit, stop by the multi-level Hollywood Bowl Museum to admire photographs and memorabilia documenting the performance venue’s fascinating history. Admission is free and the museum is open before performances and during showtime.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Los Angeles Travel Guide


5 OF 13

Jay Pritzker Pavilion

WHERE: Chicago, Illinois

Designed by celebrated architect Frank Gehry, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion is one of the best outdoor concert venues in Chicago. For starters, it is located right in Chicago’s Millennium Park. Then, it features 120-foot stainless steel ribbons and crisscrossing steel pipes that stretch over the Great Lawn and it’s a headline act in itself. With a mix of fixed seating and lawn space, more than 11,000 people can attend one of the park’s concerts, many of which are free. Home to the Grant Park Music Festival, the concert venue has also welcomed Jewel, Clint Black, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to its stage. The Jay Pritzker Pavilion opened in the summer of 2004 and shows here provide covetable views of Chicago’s skyscrapers.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Chicago Travel Guide

6 OF 13

Merriweather Post Pavilion

WHERE: Columbia, Maryland

Another Frank Gehry-designed structure, Merriweather Post Pavilion is located within 40 acres of forest that’s appropriately called Symphony Woods, and it was originally built to house the National Symphony Orchestra. Now, however, the music venue and surrounding green space are known for hosting legendary musicians—Jimi Hendrix played the guitar with his teeth back in the day—as well as a number of large music festivals. To accommodate bigger festival events and maximize the experience for music lovers, temporary stages are sometimes added throughout the preserved acres of Symphony Woods. Since opening in 1967, the Pavilion itself has undergone some changes including environmental-friendly enhancements such as solar panels to powerhouse lights. Notably, the first 15 rows of seats were taken out to build a mosh pit before Green Day’s American Idiot tour appearance and the loge sections were added specifically for Tom Jones. The historic venue gets its name from American businesswoman and philanthropist Marjorie Merriweather Post.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Maryland Travel Guide


7 OF 13

Starlight Theatre

WHERE: Kansas City, Missouri

One of the few self-producing outdoor theaters left in the U.S., the Starlight Theatre stands out from the rest with its unique background and combination of Broadway and concert productions. Official plans to build the Starlight kicked off in 1925 when a visit from Romania’s Queen Marie created a need for an outdoor performance locale. Construction finally began in 1949 and the theater opened (but wasn’t entirely finished) with a historical revue in 1950 for the city’s centennial. The Starlight Theatre has enjoyed visits from many famous names. President Harry Truman made a brief appearance on the stage (during a production of Mr. President), and Jerry Lewis funded a temporary stage extension (which later became permanent) in 1958. The space, which seats close to 8,000, has hosted touring Broadway companies, comedians, and musical guests such as Angela Lansbury, Kristin Chenoweth, Earth, Wind & Fire, and Tony Bennett.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Kansas City Travel Guide

8 OF 13

Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater

WHERE: Wantagh, New York

When Hurricane Sandy hit New York in 2012, Jones Beach Theater suffered extensive flooding and structural damage. Fortunately, it reopened seven months later and has since re-emerged as one of the top outdoor concert venues in the U.S. The popular Long Island performance space first opened in 1952 and hosted musicals before shifting focus to concerts. Depeche Mode, Kesha, Jimmy Buffet, Aerosmith, Muse, One Direction, and Pitbull are among past headliners at this scenic 15,000-capacity Zachs Bay spot. Formerly called Tommy Hilfiger at Jones Beach Theater and then Nikon at Jones Beach Theater, Northwell Health was awarded the naming rights in 2017. While its moniker may have changed several times throughout the years, adoration from concert-goers has remained constant.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s New York Travel Guide

9 OF 13

William Randolph Hearst Greek Theatre

WHERE: Berkeley, California

UC Berkeley’s William Randolph Hearst Greek Theatre first launched in 1903, with a student production of The Birds. Since then, the amphitheater has hosted a number of chart-topping artists and theater performances including a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream featuring Olivia De Haviland. The Greek Theatre is also the site of UC Berkeley graduation ceremonies where many notable names have given commencement addresses (including President Theodore Roosevelt), and the school’s annual Big Game Bonfire Rally before the UC Berkeley and Stanford football match. The amphitheater, which was given to the university by its namesake, seats 5,900 and features Greek-style columns and architecture. It was also the inspiration for the 2010 comedy Get Him to the Greek starring Jonah Hill and Russell Brand.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s The Bay Area Travel Guide

10 OF 13

Alpine Valley Music Theatre

WHERE: East Troy, Wisconsin

Located almost equidistant from Madison, Milwaukee, Rockford, and Chicago, the Alpine Valley Music Theatre is an iconic stage that has hosted Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, Rolling Stones, The Who, Def Leppard, Metallica, and many more great performers. Want to be a part of rock and roll history? This is perhaps the best outdoor concert venue to visit. In the 80s, the Grateful Dead played this sprawling location around 20 times and Deadheads from far and wide loyally came along for the groovy ride. Alpine Valley Music Theatre can hold an impressive 35,300 people in pavilion seats and on expansive lawn space.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Wisconsin Travel Guide

11 OF 13

The Pavilion at Ravinia

WHERE: Highland Park, Illinois

While the Jay Pritzker Pavilion is the architecturally-forward centerpiece of Chicago’s Millennium Park, The Pavilion at Ravinia north of the city in Highland Park is open-air but covered, thus protecting attendees from the elements. Pack a picnic and perch at The Lawn before moving over to the 3,350-seat pavilion where you’ll soak up sweet sounds during Ravinia’s summer-long concert series. Erykah Badu, Stevie Nicks, Sting, Lionel Richie, and heaps more have performed. You can also enjoy all the phonically soothing arias, adagios, and crescendos that your heart desires courtesy of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra which boasts a 118-year history with Ravinia.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Illinois Travel Guide

12 OF 13

Moody Amphitheater

WHERE: Austin, Texas

Among the terrific list of Austin outdoor concert venues, Moody Amphitheater shines bright. Since it debuted in Austin’s 11-acre Waterloo Park in 2021, it’s been gloriously jampacked with notable musicians from every genre under the sun. There have been pop acts (Shawn Mendes, 5 Seconds of Summer), indie darlings (Olivia Rodrigo, Beach House), R&B heavyweights (Kehlani, H.E.R.), Latin superstars (Sebastian Yatra), and hometown heroes like Gary Clark Jr. Moody Amphitheater are capable of accommodating 5,000 adoring fans in this beautifully landscaped park.


13 OF 13

KettleHouse Amphitheater

WHERE: Bonner, Montana

Soak in a show at KettleHouse Amphitheater which has become a fan-favorite stage since opening to the public in 2017. This permanent outdoor space has seen the likes of Norah Jones, Incubus, Sheryl Crow, and the Goo Goo Dolls. Located on the banks of the Blackfoot River just outside Missoula, the fresh air, top-notch acoustics, and epic canyon backdrop make this 4,250-capacity venue a great experience whether or not your favorite act is on the line-up. A collaboration with KettleHouse Brewing also means that attendees will never go without a nice cold brew to accompany the excellent views.