Listen up: America’s top 10 outdoor concert venues

Outdoor arenas, beach-side stages, amphitheaters under the stars – the sounds of summer are everywhere, you just have to buy a ticket. So where do you go to hear the best music and see the best concerts? Next time you want a little groove in your summer night, take a trip to one of the top outdoor music venues in America and enjoy the sounds of summer.

Nikon at Jones Beach Theater, Wantagh, New York.
The primary summer stop for every major act in the New York Metropolitan area. Everyone from Phish to Rush has rocked the beach. The stage is surrounded by the open water of New York‘s Great South Bay. Boats often cruise close for a listen.

The Greek Theatre, Berkeley, California. The “home field” of the good ol’ Grateful Dead is in California. Stunning acoustics, the mellowest, intimate crowds and that unique University vibe – it’s on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley. Home to the annual Berkeley Jazz Festival.

The Gorge Amphitheater, George, Washington. Perfectly situated over the Columbia River, The Gorge Amphitheater in Washington is widely regarded as the most inviting outdoor venue in the country. Scenery, sound and weather are routinely picture perfect. Pearl Jam recorded their monstrous box set here.

Buckeye Lake Music Center, Hebron, Ohio. Thanks to a steep open-air “mountainside”, a rainy night turns this Oregon Ohio concert venue into a true mudslide/madhouse. Spacious camping and tailgating scenes outside make this venue a total summer free-for-all.Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga, New York. Security is mellow here and the scene outside is always friendly. The venue itself features a well covered and expansive pavilion with open lawn seating behind it. Frequenters include James Taylor, Carly Simon and Carole King.

Summerstage, Central Park, New York City. “Hot town, summer in the city…” A truly intimate outdoor venue, if there is such a thing. Tucked away in a corner of the park on the Upper East Side, surrounded by trees and wonderful breezes is Summerstage in New York City. Once the gig ends, you can spill out into the streets of the greatest city in the world to keep the party going.

Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, Maryland. Wide open green spaces, surrounded on all sides by breezy trees and forest of the most pristine variety. The venue itself is small but has great acoustics. For sonic reference, dig The Jerry Garcia Band’s recorded and released performance.

Alpine Valley Music Theater, East Troy, Wisconsin
. Wisconsin in the summertime equals bright sun, low humidity, and clean air, which makes for an awesome evening under the stars at Alpine Valley. Every major rock act you can think of swings through during the summer, including Dave Matthews, who has long considered it his favorite place to play.

Red Rocks Amphitheater, Morrison, Colorado. The mecca of American outdoor music, this venue is embedded in multi-hued mountains and stone monoliths, surrounded by breathtaking views of..well…the red rocks of Colorado. It’s acoustically perfect and a majestic experience. U2’s legendary documented performance still sets the standard.

Drew Moss is a contributor.