When the weather permits (which is nearly year-round in L.A.), there's nothing better than catching your favorite production on an open-air stage. Each outdoor theater venue in Los Angeles has a unique character, be it the Getty Villa's al fresco amphitheater inspired by ancient Greek and Roman design or the historic Will Geer's Theatricum Botanicum nestled inside Topanga Canyon. Whether you're looking to plan a fun date or day with the family, L.A. boasts some of the best traditional—and untraditional (hello, Old Zoo)—stages around. For Shakespearean classics to folk plays and everything in between, here's your guide to the best outdoor theater in Los Angeles.
Best outdoor theater in L.A.
For more than forty years, Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum has been drawing theatre aficionados to its storied, open-air stage for engaging plays in a magical setting. The 299-seat amphitheater in Topanga Canyon hosts audiences of all ages for everything from Shakespearean classics to folk plays and more. This season, catch highlights such as William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and the stage adaptation of George Orwell’s Animal Farm.
This seasonal theater company produces ten weeks of admission-free performances at more than 20 ocean-adjacent venues across Los Angeles and Orange County. Last year alone, the company drew over 20,000 people to its open-air settings. This summer’s top production is a performance on Macbeth at Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes—arguably one of Shakespeare by the Sea’s most breathtaking locations. There’s no better backdrop than the Pacific Ocean.
While most well-known for its breathtaking gardens and exhibitions, the Getty Villa is also home to several open-air productions which take place at the property’s grand Barbara and Lawrence FleishmanTheater. In keeping with the museum’s first-century Roman-style architecture, the 500-seat classical theater is modeled after venues of ancient Greece and Rome. Each September, the theatre welcomes a series of productions, which in the past have included Euripides’ Hippolytus and Plautus’s Tug of War. Visit the Getty Villa’s online calendar for the full production schedule this season.
Each summer, Shakespeare fanatics watch their favorite works come to life at the historic Old Zoo in Griffith Park. Independent Shakespeare Co. puts on a series of lively productions each week, inviting audiences to take a seat on the grass (read: bring a picnic blanket) and enjoy performances like this season’s headliners: “Measure For Measure” and “The Two Gentlemen Of Verona.” Insider tip: Before the show starts, grab a bite from the concessions tent, which features sweet treats from The Village Bakery & Café, homemade kettle corn and more.
Looking for more theaters options?
Move over Broadway, Los Angeles has some of the best theaters and performing arts centers in the nation. Whether you're looking for intimate and avant garde or sweeping orchestral maneuvers and lively musicals, there's a wide range of venues and shows at each performing arts center to suit every taste. So pair a show with dinner at a romantic restaurant for the ultimate date night, or take your kids out for a family-friendly affair—whatever you do, add seeing a show at one of these places onto your things to do list. Recommended: The best museums in Los Angeles