Music in the Sun: Outdoor Venues in the Bay Area

There are a handful of things that really mean ‘summers here’ to me. California has decent, sunny weather for a large part of the year, but summer, June – August is still something special. As a kid, it was trips to the local pool and the county fair; complete with cotton candy, ice cream, rides, farm animals, that meant it was summer. These days, besides the obvious that the kiddos are out of school, it is the abundance of opportunities to sit outside in the sun and listen to music, which really tells me that summer is here.

If outdoor concerts are something new to you, here are some great music venues to check out. Most are free, but some, like the shoreline amphitheater charge (prices vary depending on who’s performing). 


Sounds of the Shores (Redwood Shores): FREE.Three concerts are offered throughout the summer. Usually one each month, June-August; Hosted in Marlin Park, between the playground and the tennis courts. Bring your own lawn chairs, blankets, food and beverages (alcohol OK) for a chilled night beside the water. This is a kid and dog-friendly event. In recent years a food truck has parked nearby, for those not wanting to bring food with them. Bands featured are local and lively. Street parking is plentiful.

Music on the Square (Redwood City): FREE. Every Friday, June -September a party can be found in downtown Redwood City. Bring your dancing shoes, or get there early to stake out a place to sit. Restaurants a plenty surround the event, so no need to bring your own supplies, but you are, of course, welcome to. Street parking can be tricky, so that’s another reason to get there early or use one of the parking structures within a 5 minute walk from Courthouse Square. This event is even accessible via public transport – the Caltrain station is just a 5-10 minute walk away. Some awesome bands are on the list this year. Kids are welcome, but keep a close eye on them – these events get busy!

Concerts at the Rotary Pavilion (San Bruno): FREE. Every Friday night, August through September. Another great community event. Bring a blanket and some food, and enjoy some great local bands. One of the schools usually hosts a snack bar, with basic food like hotdogs or pizza as well as snacks and drinks. As an added bonus, Movies in the Park start after the concerts on all Friday nights in September. ‘Moana’ and ‘Sing’ are some of the films featured this year. Bring an extra jacket if you’re staying  for the movie, as San bruno can get chilly in the evenings.

Music: Dancing Shoes

Put on your dancing shoes!

Stern Grove Festival (San Francisco): FREE. Some true gems have performed here! If this is your first year in ‘The City’ put these concerts in your diary. You’ve got to arrive early to get a space on the lawn, but it’s worth it. Concerts start at 2pm, so bring some lunch (an extra sweater of course) and chill. This is a kid friendly event. Dogs, on leashes are allowed in limited areas. Stern Grove is NOT in Golden Gate Park, rather it is located on the corner of 19th Ave and Sloat Blvd. Parking is extremely limited. Use of public transport is encouraged.

Shoreline Amphitheatre (Mountain View): $-$$. The cheap seats are the best…We snagged lawn tickets on Groupon for two recent concerts and had a blast. Bring your own food, (no outside alcohol allowed), a blanket and a lawn chair. Typical ball game food is available, along with very pricey beers and cocktails. Parking is free and plentiful, but be prepared for a long wait to get out of the parking lots at the end of the night. Concerts run nearly year round. As with any outdoor event in the Bay Area, bring an extra sweater!


Music: Crowd and Performer

Mountain Winery (Saratoga): $-$$$ This venue is still on our summer to-do list. Concerts start in May and run through October. The venue looks amazing, and many friends have come back raving about the concerts held here. No matter your taste in music, you will find something to love here. Parking is available onsite for a fee. Food and drinks are a little more upscale than any of the other venues we’ve mentioned, so if you’re looking for a great date night or girls night out. Check out the Mountain Winery!

If music isn’t your thing, check out some American Sports.

There are loads of other venues out there, but these are top of our list. What are your favorites? We’d love to check out a few more before the summer is over.

About Michelle Laker

A California native; I spent 10 years living, studying, working, (and falling in love) in the United Kingdom. I returned to the Bay Area in 2011, with my British husband in tow. I am re-adjusting to life in the bay, feeling more like an expat than a local. I have spent my career working with international student & families. I love learning about other cultures, languages, and traditions. My desire to welcome newcomers, and help you make the most of your new life in the Bay Area comes from the unforgettable memories (and mistakes) I made during my time in the United Kingdom. If you've just arrived, and don't know where to start, email me ( I am happy to help!

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