“If music be the food of love, play on…” William Shakespeare

Warm breezes, picnic suppers, great friends—and music…those are the ingredients for perfect summer nights. And in California, that’s exactly what we have in store for the next few months thanks to the amazing array of summer concerts happening at some of the best outdoor venues in the nation.

From San Francisco all the way down to Orange County, Californians are buying up summer concert series tickets for the Counting Crows, Martina McBride, The Wanted, Josh Groban and Queen Latifah—just a handful of the big names making the entertainment rounds.

To keep you in-the-know, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best summer concert series events across California that you should check out. From classical masterpieces to all-out rock n’ roll, you’ll find the music that moves you at one of these fantastic summer concerts.

 BAY AREA 

1. America’s Cup Concert Series, San Francisco
Location: America’s Cup Park: Piers 27 / 29
Show Dates: July 18 through October 2013
Artist Highlights: The Counting Crows, Weezer, 311, Jason Mraz and the San Francisco Symphony.
Tickets: Prices vary. Click here for details.

Every summer, people descend on San Francisco from all over the globe to witness the legendary America’s Cup sailing competition—the largest in the world. Because it’s such a tremendous draw for the city, San Francisco decided to build up the area surrounding the race to bolster the fun factor. One of the greatest results of that effort is the new music pavilion on Piers 27/29—which now hosts the America’s Cup Concert Series. The opening ceremony for the Cup kicked things off on July 4, and now it’s all about the music. The series starts on July 18 with The Counting Crows and The Wallflowers. Come on down to check out some great shows—but remember to bring a sweater…it may be California, but we can still get a chill in the air. 

2. Stern Grove Festival, San Francisco 

Location: Sigmund Stern Grove Park, 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard, San Francisco, CA
Show Dates: June 16 to August 18
Artist Highlights: Kronos Quartet, the San Francisco Ballet, Pink Martini, Bozz Scaggs
Tickets: Free (Donations welcome)

In true San Francisco Style, the Stern Grove Festival features an amazing array of cultural performers from the majesty of the San Francisco symphony to the soulful funk/jazz of Shuggie Otis. The concerts happen every Summer Sunday at 2 pm with no tickets required, but donations are welcome to help support the festival and its outreach programs. You may want to get to the festival area early to find a good spot to lay down your blankets (no larger than 8′ x 10′) or low lawn chairs—or you can be guaranteed a reserved picnic table by becoming a $100 and up-member of Friends of Stern Grove Festival. Bench seating is also available to seniors over age 65 on a first come first serve basis, so again, be sure to get to the grounds early!

NAPA VALLEY 

3. Robert Mondavi Winery Summer Concert Series, Napa Valley
Location: Robert Mondavi Winery: 7801 Saint Helena Highway, Napa, CA
Show Dates: July 6 through July 20
Artist Highlights: Martina McBride, Lifehouse, Huey Lewis and the News, Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers, ZZ Ward and Delta Rae.
Tickets: Prices vary. Click here for details.

Is there anything more Californian than a concert at a fabulous winery? For over 40 years, Northern California music lovers have headed down to Mondavi Winery for a great series of concerts that in the past have featured artists like Ella Fitzgerald, Natasha Bedingfield, Ziggy Marley and Tony Bennett. This year, which marks Robert Mondavi’s 100th birthday, the talent is just as exceptional with a lineup that includes Lifehouse, Huey Lewis and the News (on their “Sports” 30th Anniversary Tour) and the soulful ZZ Ward. Pack a picnic with General Admission tickets or purchase Dinner Seating tickets where you can enjoy a “family style” dinner prepared by the vineyard’s in-house chef and served at the edge of the To Kalon vineyard. There will also be concessions inside the venue including Ben & Jerry’s, BarBers Q, Napa Style and more culinary temptations.

4. The Mountain Winery Summer Concert Series

Location: Mountain Winery, 14831 Pierce Rd., Saratoga, CA
Show Dates: July 13 to October 6
Artist Highlights: Soul Asylum, David Byrne, Melissa Ethridge, Gladys Knight, Bonnie Raitt, Carly Rae Jepsen
Tickets: Prices vary per concert. Click here for details. VIP Packages and Concert Dining Packages are also available.

Take a drive to beautiful Saratoga for one of the truly great  Northern California concert series. Mountain Winery hosts a fantastic mix of classic and contemporary artists from Foreigner and Chicago to Carly Rae Jepsen and Matthew Sweet. Since the concerts take place in a gorgeous winery setting, you can also take advantage of the fabulous dining available with the “Concert Dining Package.” This package gives you the option of pre-concert dining at the exquisite  Chateau Deck or Winery Deck (your choice) and also premium concert seats with amazing views of the stage. Other ticket options include the Luxury Concert Suites (which have already sold out for 2013) and a number of VIP seating packages. Individual concert tickets are also available.

 LOS ANGELES 

5. Summer at the Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles
Location: Hollywood Bowl: 2301 N. Highland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA
Show Dates: All Summer Long
Artist Highlights: Josh Groban, Queen Latifah, Tony Bennett, Itzhak Perlman, Diana Ross.
Tickets: Prices vary. Click here for details.

In the middle of Hollywood is an oasis for music lovers—the fantastic Hollywood Bowl. Since 1922, this huge natural amphitheater has hosted some of the most amazing and legendary acts ever, from Judy Garland and Billie Holiday to Elton John and Simon & Garfunkle. And this year’s summer series lineup is destined to be another grand affair for Angelenos and their guests. Pick any week through September and you’ll have an amazing performance in store for you from artists including Queen Latifah, PHISH and Itzhak Perlman—plus, keep an eye out for performances that feature the Bowl’s spectacular fireworks displays. Last but not least, don’t forget to pack a picnic—or try out one of the great dining options onsite.

6. Twilight Concerts, Santa Monica
Location: Santa Monica Pier, 200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA
Show Dates: July 11 through September 12
Artist Highlights: Meshell Ndegeocello, No Age, The English Beat, Xavier Rudd.
Tickets: Free 

The 29th annual  Twilight Concerts is in full swing with another fantastic mix of artists. Every summer thursday, the Santa Monica Pier comes alive with some of the best contemporary and classic performers taking the stage for some pure California fun. So grab a few beach blankets and a sweater (could get chilly when the sun goes down) and get down to the Pier for free music. The shows run from 7 pm to 10 pm, but get there early because you want to stake out a good spot before the crowd settles in. As the Twilight motto says: Bands + Pier + Beach + Friends + Free = Awesome x5—so don’t miss out!

ORANGE COUNTY 

7. Summer Concert Series at the Pacific Amphitheater, Orange County
Location: Pacific Amphitheater
/OC Fair: 88 Fair Drive
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Show Dates: July 12 through August 11
Artist Highlights: The Go-Go’s, Alan Jackson, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, The Flaming Lips, Three Dog Night, ZZ Top.
Tickets: Prices vary. Click here for details.

Summer is definitely happening in the O.C. with the Summer Concert Series at the Pacific Amphitheater. Starting July 12, just about every genre of music will be hitting the stage; from the rocking girl power of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and the eclectic cool of The Flaming Lips to country legend Alan Jackson and the illustrious Roger Daltry—there will be something for every generation and every taste. Speaking of taste, if you’re hungry, there are plenty of food and drink options at the OC Fair, so get to the grounds early and indulge!

8. Annual Summer Concert Series at Hyatt Regency Newport Beach

Location: Hyatt Regency, 1107 Jamboree Rd., Newport Beach, CA
Show Dates: June 21 through October 18
Artist Highlights: Michael McDonald, Acoustic Alchemy, David Benoit, Chris Isaak, the Commodores
Tickets: Prices vary for Individual Shows, Jazz Passes, and Season Passes. Click here for details.

The Hyatt in Newport Beach is the place to go for fans of jazz, amazing vocalists, and old-school funk. From June until October, greats like Michael McDonald, Chris Isaak, Chris Botti, and the legendary Commodores will be taking the stage in the Hyatt’s intimate Back Bay Amphitheater. There will be seating provided, so you can leave your lawn chairs at home—but be sure to grab a sweater because the evenings tend to cool down in Newport. Aside from the great music, guests can also take advantage of the 5:30 pm dinner buffet happening in the hotel’s Shor American Seafood Grill restaurant for $40 per person or small plates and drinks are available in the Lobby Lounge before, during and after each show.

Will you be attending any Summer Concerts? Let us know about your favorite California Concert Series!

Lead image: Courtesy of Flickr