The Hollywood Bowl is beautiful even when it’s empty (when there’s no performance, the iconic venue doubles as a county park). But when there’s a show—when picnic basket-toting concertgoers amble up the hill and fill amphiteater’s 18,000 seats—it’s simply magical.
The summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic since 1922, the Bowl is simply unlike any other concert venue in L.A.; seeing a show here isn’t just a performance, it’s an experience. The gates typically open two hours prior to showtime, when guests stream in and start to claim to the picnic areas. Yes, you can bring your own food, and even your own bottles of beer and wine for LA Phil-produced shows (as opposed to lease events, which aren’t BYOB friendly).
Being just about anywhere inside the Bowl feels electric, but of coursewhere you sit does still matter (the bulk of the venue is bench seating). If you’re able to splurge on the box seats (which can cost hundreds of dollars each), you’ll be treated to four foldable chairs with two tables that pop open for the ultimate pre-show picnic. On the opposite end, if you’re booking tickets early you might be able to nab $2 bench seats all the way in the back for some LA Phil. If you don’t want to drop a ton on seats but do still want a taste of a premium experience, consider booking a reservation at the Backyard, an open-air restaurant right next to one of the huge screens that flank the stage. Reserve an early time slot and you’re welcome to wine and dine right up until the start of the show.
There’s, of course, one notorious downside to seeing a show at the Bowl, but we don’t think that should stop you from coming here. Traffic can be horrendous given its canyon location (however early you think you should leave, leave even earlier), and the parking lots are all stacked, meaning you’re stuck unti any adjacent cars can get out. If you insist on parking on site, Lots C and D across the street are still stacked but sometimes somewhat less of a nightmare than Lot B. Otherwise, we strongly suggest either parking at Ovation Hollywood and taking the shuttle or walking (it’s about 20-plus minutes slightly uphill), or using the Bowl shuttle from the L.A. Zoo (there are park and ride buses to farther destinations around the city, but the zoo bus is by far the most efficient).