10Best: Outdoor Concert Venues you Shouldn't Miss!

  • See the Lost Colony in the Waterside Theater on Roanoke Sound

    Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, Outer Banks, NC

    The Outer Banks, the sand-swept playground off of the coast of North Carolina, is also home to America’s longest running dramatic musical. The Lost Colony is based on the history/mystery of the first settlers that landed on Roanoke Island before the founding of Jamestown. Performed in an open-air waterfront theater set at the edge of Roanoke Sound, the family-friendly stage is three times larger than most Broadway venues.  Through Aug. 22.

    Photo courtesy of Outer Banks Visitors Bureau

  • Local wine and the Sonoma setting is a highlight at the Broadway series in Jack London State Park

    Jack London State Park, Sonoma County, CA

    The next time you’re wining through the Sonoma countryside, consider an evening of Broadway music under the stars at Jack London State Park, located nine miles out of the city of Sonoma and about 50 miles north of San Francisco. The stage is set in the middle of the park’s sprawling vineyards, and the music unfolds against a stunning mountainous backdrop.  The fun starts with picnics on the great lawn, and yes, there is local wine and food for sale.  Through Sept. 6.

    Photo courtesy of Sherry Lambert

  • The only way to get to this mountaintop venue is aboard the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad

    Mountain Rails Live, Fir Mountain, CO

    This amphitheater is beyond green. For the sixth season, Mountain Rails Live offers a summer concert series staged in a solar-powered venue at the top of LaVeta Pass 9,400 feet up in the Southern Rockies. Accessible only aboard the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad, which leaves from Alamosa, two and a half hours south of Colorado Springs, the music features the likes of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Trout Fishing in America and Juice Newton.  After the show, everybody winds up in the club car for adult beverages and the scenic ride home. Through Sept. 14.

    Photo courtesy of Rio Grande Scenic Railroad

  • Texas, a big show to fit a big state takes place in the Palo Duro Canyon through August

    Pioneer Amphitheater, Palo Duro Canyon State Park, TX

    Leave it to Texas to stage a show in the Palo Duro Canyon, second only to the Grand Canyon in size and wonder.  This summer marks the 49th season for Texas, a family-friendly musical drama that tells the rock ‘em sock ‘em story of the settling of the Texas Panhandle in the 1800s. Performed each summer in the Pioneer Amphitheater, the big wow here is the breathtaking 600-foot canyon wall backdrop and, on a clear night, the Milky Way overhead. Through Aug. 31.

    Photo courtesy of Visit Amarillo

  • Green Lake creates a scenic backdrop for the Kresge Auditorium at Interlochen Center for the Arts

    Kresge Auditorium, Interlochen, MI

    Located at Interlochen Center for the Arts, just south of Traverse City, Kresge Auditorium is an outdoor 4,000 seat amphitheater set in the woods along the shore of Green Lake. The venue at this renowned arts academy has hosted summertime performances by classical music greats like Itzhak Perlman, Van Cliburn, and The Boston Pops, and pop notables including Aretha Franklin and Willie Nelson. Through Aug. 20. 

    Photo courtesy of Interlochen Center for the Arts

  • The hills are alive with music and other entertainment during Wintergreen Summer Music Festival

    Wintergreen Resort, Wintergreen, VA

    The Wintergreen Summer Music Festival kicks off July 7, a jam packed schedule of 229 events and performances in 28 days taking place in the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains.  This year’s theme is Amazon:  The Rhythms and Colors of South America, with classical concerts, world music and cultural programs all in the mix. Through Aug. 3.

    Photo courtesy of Wintergreen Resort

  • Packer Fans from Outer Space is one of the productions onstage in Peninsula State Park in Door County, WI

    The American Folklore Theatre, Door County WI

    Located in a lush Peninsula State Park, this top shelf summer of original musical theater draws upwards of 40,000 fans to see shows like Packer Fans from Outer Space - the world's first sci-fi football show and Guys on Ice, a bromance between a couple of guys ice fishing.  The popular series, which heads indoors come fall, will be renamed Northern Sky Theater next year. Through Aug. 23.

    Photo courtesy of Door County Visitor Bureau

  • Arias with mountain views bring curtain calls at the Santa Fe Opera

    Santa Fe Opera, Santa Fe, NM

    A night at the famed opera tops the Santa Fe bucket list for visitors and locals alike. See classics like Bizet’s Carmen and Beethoven’s Fidelio in an acoustically perfect covered outdoor venue with panorama views of the Jemez Mountains to the west and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the east.  Don’t miss taking a backstage tour while you’re in town, offered most weekday mornings at 9.  Through Aug. 23

    Photo courtesy of Santa Fe Convention & Visitors Bureau

  • Drama is always onstage at Red Rocks Park, just west of Denver

    Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Morrison, CO

    Even the brightest stars should worry about this spectacular venue upstaging them. Opened in 1941, the Amphitheater is built into natural formations of red sandstone in Red Rocks Park, 15 miles west of Denver. As if the geology alone wasn't dazzling enough, typically clear skies deliver jaw-dropping stargazing.  This year’s roster includes Keith Urban, The Avett Brothers, Tom Petty and Josh Groban with the Colorado Symphony.  Through Oct. 2.

    Photo courtesy of Visit Denver

  • Jones Beach draws a star-studded array of acts every summer

    Jones Beach, NY

    Huge acts like Jimmy Buffett, Nine Inch Nails and Jeff Beck rock out at this lively Long Island beach, so popular that it has its own named venue, the Nikon at Jones Beach Theater.  Situated at water’s edge, the combination of big name entertainment, the sunset and chill beach vibe makes Jones Beach one of the best things about New York. Through Sept. 4.

    Photo courtesy of I Love New York

  • The passion play has played out against the Ozarks since 1968

    Great Passion Play, Eureka Springs AK

    Performed since 1968 in the beautiful Ozark Mountains in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, the last week of Christ’s life is rendered in a large-scale dramatic production by 170 actors  in a multi-level amphitheater setting. The live animals are a nice touch.  Through October.

    Photo courtesy of Great Passion Play

  • Skiers are replaced with music lovers at Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater come summertime

    Deer Valley Resort Park City, UT

    Once the snow melts and the skiers go home, Deer Valley turns up the lights on its Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater, home to the Deer Valley Music Festival.  Against a backdrop of the stunning Wasatch the festival runs from late June to the middle of August pairing the Utah Symphony with acts like the Indigo Girls, Mandy Patinkin and Steve Martin. Through Aug. 9.

    Photo courtesy of Deer Valley Resort

  • Garden delights include live music at lovely Longwood Gardens outside of Philly in Kennett Square

    Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, PA

    This garden jewel, originally part of the Pierre S. du Pont estate, is an eye-popping array of gardens and greenhouses sprawled over more than 1000 acres. Although there are fountain light shows and fireworks throughout the year, the summer concert series brings jazz, organ music, classical concerts, dance and theater to the historic Open Air Theatre, nestled in a frame of clipped arborvitae and towering trees since 1914. Through Sept. 13.

    Photo courtesy of L. Albee

  • Frank Gehry's inspired design creates a world class venue in Chicago's Millennium Park

    Millennium Park, Chicago, IL

    Celebrating its 10th birthday this year, Millennium Park is home to the Grant Park Music Festival, held in the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion. The festival draws top classical musicians from around the world to join the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus on the shores of Lake Michigan. Dating back to the Great Depression, the Grant Park Music Festival is free and runs through Aug. 16.

    Photo courtesy of ┬ęCity of Chicago

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