This weekend is San Francisco’s major music festival, and one of the big ones around the U.S. Personally, Outside Lands is tied as my favorite and I absolutely loved attending last year. One of the great things about it compared to most festivals is you won’t melt in extreme heat. You also get a good feel of the city surrounding the festival, it is not a cookie cutter festival in any sense.
There are a couple of things in the days leading up to the festival that you can do and keep in mind that can help make it an even better experience. I’ve written about why you should go to a music festival and some other tips as well here, but wanted to highlight Outside Lands itself.
Listen To the Playlist All Week
One of the great things about festivals is finding new music to fall in love with. Last year, I was introduced to John Butler Trio and Nahko and Medicine For The People. This year there is a whole new list of great acts you might not know yet. If you aren’t already, start listening to the lineup today. Nowadays, you don’t even have to make your own playlist since you can find one already made in places like Spotify, here is a good one to check out. These playlists can also be a great way to bring back memories of the festival later.
Find Your Favorite Spot to Relax
Three-day festivals can be a long adventure for the best of us and a good way to survive is finding a place to relax while still enjoying the event. One of the great things about Golden Gate Park is the natural bowls created. Many of the stages have a good sized hill alongside side them. Find a good spot with a stage that you enjoy. Last year, I loved the Sutro stage and they had many of the acts I wanted to see.
Sometimes you want to see an act but you don’t need to be right up front, or you might be waiting for who you want to see. Finding a place to relax will help the whole weekend more enjoyable.
Explore the Food Inside & Out
San Francisco is full of amazing foods and Outside Lands is no exception. From dessert at Choco Lands to the savory food scattered around the park, you can definitely enjoy a little of everything San Francisco has to offer. Skip the standard festival food you can find elsewhere and instead stop at one of the local spots.
Last year, we loved El Huarache Loco, 4505 Meats, and of course Epic Cookies. From Quesadillas to BBQ to Macaroons they really offer everything.
Just around the Park there are some amazing places to try as well. Last year we started one morning with breakfast at Outer Lands (appropriate right) and one night did dinner over in the Outer Sunset. If you head out of the park for some food I suggest exploring that area or the Outer Richmond. They are a quick drive or walk from the festival but give you a chance to see more of the city itself. If you’re looking for ideas click here.
Enjoy the Local Wines & Beers
What other festival do you have a couple dozen wineries and breweries on hand? Okay, maybe Bottle Rock but not too many. I loved the chance to taste wines right at the venue, and the wine glass makes a great souvenir. The wine at Wine Lands and the beer at Beer Lands might be a little more expensive than at the general stands, but the extra $1-4 is well worth the increase in quality.
While indulging can be a lot of fun at festivals make sure you know your limits. You want to remember the festival and music, and you don’t want to ruin it for anyone else either. Also make sure to hydrate throughout the day, especially if you are drinking.
Bring Layers, Sunblock & a Blanket
Now if you visit San Francisco a lot you know this, but you would be surprised by the number of people walking around in shorts and t-shirts thinking that is all they would need. This might fly at Coachella, but as the sun sets or the fog rolls in you are going to want to bundle up. Packing for a San Francisco festival is a different beast.
Make sure to check the weather and bring layers that you can carry easily and remove when the sun does come out, but keep you warm in mornings and evenings. Remember just because it says 72 and sunny doesn’t mean it won’t still be chilly at parts of the day. And since the sun will come out, or even just shine through a thin layer of cloud, bring some sunblock. Day 2 really sucks if you have a sunburn.
Back to the cold I’d even suggest bringing a good jacket. Yes, in San Francisco you can pull out that Northface in August. I was so glad I’d been carrying it around all day and it wasn’t close to the coldest I’d witnessed during the summer in the city.
Also, throw a small blanket in your bag. Of course it is nicer to sit on, but unlike most festivals that are hot, at Outside Lands the grass stays pretty damp most of the day and who wants a wet bottom throughout the day. It is worth a little extra weight.
Have a Blast
Outside Lands has everything you can want out of a music festival. Great lineups, an interesting and easy to get around venue, delicious food and drink, a real feel of the city that hosts and to top it off, pretty nice weather.
I sadly won’t be joining the festival this year, but hope all of you attending have an amazing time, and if you aren’t attending this year take a good look at the 2016 show.
Are there any tips you suggest for Outside Lands or festivals in general that I’ve missed?