California summer nights are tailor-made for outdoor concerts. As long days turn into night, Mother Nature turns down the thermostat and balmy breezes
With conditions like that, could there be anything better to do on a summer evening than go to an outdoor concert? Of course not. Use this guide to decide where to go. What you put in your picnic basket is up to you.
Besides the outdoor concerts, California is the home of lots of big music festivals which also happen in the summer. To get the inside scoop on when they happen, where and how to attend, use the guide to California's most travel-worthy music festivals.
Ford Amphitheater, Los Angeles
The Ford features musical groups as diverse as the population of the county that owns it.
It's a smaller venue than the Hollywood Bowl across the freeway, with reasonable ticket prices. Tickets are even less for the kids, making the price tag for a family of four less than a night at the movies with sodas and popcorn.
Greek Theatre, Berkeley
The Berkeley Greek is one of the state's oldest outdoor concert venues, built in a 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.
Check out the guide to Berkeley Greek Theatre for tips, things you need to know and more way to enjoy your show.
Greek Theatre, Los Angeles
The LA Greek is a medium-sized venue that most Angelenos associate with rock concerts. Indeed it has 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 natural amphitheater, surrounded by trees in Griffith Park. The Greek is lots of fun, but you need to know how to get there and what to do about parking. All of that and more is in the Greek Theatre guide.
Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles
The Hollywood Bowl is all about picnics at twilight, laid-back ambiance, and the best performers you'll find anywhere. The long-running summer series includes classical music from the LA Philharmonic, along with jazz, blues, and other musical styles.
Especially if you have never been to the Bowl before (but even if you have), don't miss the tips and secrets in the practical guide to the Hollywood Bowl.
Humphrey's By the Bay Concerts, San Diego
Humphrey's is a small, attractive concert venue that sits next to a marina beside the San Diego Bay. Their summer lineup features international acts, and they attract big-name performers despite their small size.
If you go to Humphrey's unprepared, you could end up cold, grumpy and unhappy, but that doesn't have to happen if you use the tips in the Humprey's concert guide.
Mountain Winery, San Jose
In the Santa Cruz Mountains above Silicon Valley and the town of Saratoga, the former Paul Masson Winery building forms the backdrop for the stage at the Mountain Winery.
It's an intimate venue where that feels smaller than it is and you're never far from the stage or performers.
Because of its location, the Mountain Winery has some restrictions and policies you need to know about before you go. You'll find out about them and get some practical tips for your visit to the Mountain Winery guide.
Stern Grove Concerts, San Francisco
The only daytime concert in this lineup is in San Francisco, held in a park area ringed with redwood and eucalyptus trees. The performers are top-notch, and best of all, admission is free. Sunday afternoons in San Francisco don't get any better than this.
Free concerts of this quality require some planning ahead. You can avoid a lot of hassles and pitfalls by checking the Stern Grove website before you go.
Vina Robles Amphitheatre, Paso Robles
Central California's premier concert destination catches many of the same acts that appear at the better-known places in the state, in a venue that's the newest of any on this list.
To get some useful tips and find out what you need to know to enjoy it, visit the Vina Robles Amphitheatre website.