Looking for an inexpensive family day trip this summer? Or a way to pack some pizazz into a picnic without dropping a lot of coin?
Well, we’ve got just the right tune for you.
Communities across the Bay Area – all within a 11/2-to-2-hour drive from the Modesto region – host free outdoor concert series that offer a chance to turn a simple picnic into a more rewarding affair. Some of the concerts include favorites who often have played Modesto area stages, including Tom Rigney and Flambeau, Y&T, Chris Cain and Johnny Cash tribute artist James Garner.
Most of the events take place in parks and are kid-friendly, and they offer a wide variety of culinary possibilities. Some outdoor shows practically beg for a traditional picnic lunch, such as the Stern Grove concert series in San Francisco. Performances are held Sunday afternoons beginning this Sunday and running into August in a lovely park, with plenty of room for a blanket and gourmet spread. Keep in mind, though, that the park can be foggy and cool, so a thermos of hot soup might also be a good idea.
Yerba Buena Gardens, which hosts a free music festival, is similarly green and spacious and inviting for a picnic. But you also happen to be in downtown San Francisco, so the surrounding culinary options for takeout or post-concert eating-in abound.
You also have tempting takeout food options at Todos Santos Plaza in Concord, which hosts two concert series as well as a farmers market; Los Gatos Town Plaza, which hosts a summer jazz series; and Point Richmond, which hosts a concert series that goes for a family-friendly dance-party vibe (complete with face-painting for kids). Ditto for Pleasanton, Pleasant Hill and Redwood City, all of which play host to free music.
Then there’s the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, where free evening concerts can top off a great day at the beach, with all the sinfully delicious food that entails.
Here’s a roundup of some of the Bay Area’s best free concert series happening during the warm weather months.
It’s a good idea to check the event or city’s website before you go to find out what you can and can’t bring into the venue. You should not assume, for example, that alcoholic beverages are allowed.
Stern Grove Festival
Jazz on the Plazz
Bands on the Beach
Music & Market Series
Yerba Buena Gardens Festival
Point Richmond Music’s Summer Concert Season
Los Gatos’ Music in the Park
Music on the Square
Concerts in the Park
Sunset by the Lake
Tuesday Night Blues
Music in the Park