Credit: Travis McCoy

11 of the Best Venues for Live Music Along the California Coast

Sip and Dance the Day Away at These Ultra-Cool Concert Venues

From Los Angeles to Monterey, California is home to some of the most legendary and iconic music venues in the world. From outdoor amphitheaters to cozy breweries and bars, live music can be found all up and down the California coast. Though some play host to bigger stars than others, there is an undeniable magic to be felt while moving and grooving to your favorite tunes with your crew. The only thing that makes a concert better is a cold can of Flying Embers’ hard kombucha, seltzer or canned cocktail! That said, get ready to sip and sing along at the 11 best venues for live music along the California coast. 

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Ventura Music Hall 

Between its retro style and intimate setting, the Ventura Music Hall is one of the best places for live tunes in this charming beach town. On Sept. 29, Flying Embers and the Embers Foundation hosted a free concert with Donavon Frankenreiter and Never Ending Fall in order to bring the community together in support of Ventura County firefighters. “When they told me that proceeds would be going to the local firefighters and their families, I really wanted to be a part of this,” says Frankenreiter. “I actually played here at the Ventura Music Hall when they first opened and there were still bowling lanes, so it’s great being able to come back here and see it all redone.” The indoor venue has great acoustics, and other upcoming shows to look forward to include Courtney Barnett on Nov. 5 and Sammy Johnson on Nov. 10. In addition to the Flying Embers Strawberry Guava Margarita, you can also sip on a Pineapple Sunset, Guava Citra or Orange Passion Mimosa Hard Kombucha while dancing the night away. 

Location: Ventura


Rincon Brewery

Best Live Music Venues California
Credit: Travis McCoy

Looking to enjoy some live tunes with an ice-cold drink in hand? Rincon Brewery in Ventura is a laid-back venue that hosts live music weekly. The brewery typically hosts local bands and performers, but even Donavon Frankenreiter himself gave an acoustic performance on Sept. 29 before the Embers Foundation show, so you never know who might show up! The dog-friendly patio has the best vibes, and their Friday night shows get pretty packed. Show up early to snag an outdoor table and order a Flying Embers margarita or mojito along with some fried pickles and sliders.

Location: Ventura


Aviator Nation Dreamland

Best Live Music Venues California
Credit: Cameron Driskill

Transport yourself to the Golden Age of music at the 1970s-inspired Aviator Nation Dreamland in Malibu. Live shows can be enjoyed throughout the week, but since there is no set schedule, it’s best to check the event list on their website before you head out. In addition to performances from local bands and artists, you can also drop by for open mic nights and comedy nights. The stage looks straight out of a ‘70s shag bar, and you can even enjoy a full food and beverage menu, complete with ahi tuna tacos and Wagyu smash sliders.

Location: Malibu


Santa Barbara Bowl

When it comes to outdoor venues, the Santa Barbara Bowl is a dream come true. You’ll find epic views of the Pacific Ocean from the top of the amphitheater, making it the perfect place to snap a pre-show pic at sunset. Though the Santa Barbara Bowl has been around since 1938, it has since undergone a $40 million renovation, and the view of the stage is incredibly clear no matter where you sit. Since temperatures begin to drop in November, there are only a few shows left of the year. Catch Hozier’s beautiful performance on Oct. 28 or end the season with Kenny Loggins and say goodbye at his farewell tour. 

Location: Santa Barbara


The Penmar

With only a few more Summer Sessions left for the season, The Penmar in Venice should be at the top of your live music list this fall. The final show will be on Friday, Nov. 3, so be sure to grab your group and bring your coziest picnic blankets. Once you pick your perfect spot on the lawn, head to the concession stand for some delicious barbacoa tacos and a Flying Embers Lime Margarita. Tickets are only $11, but you’ll definitely want to buy them ahead of time. Also, do your best to get there as early as possible so you can snag a spot close to the stage. 

Location: Venice


The Kia Forum

From Harry Styles to Sam Smith, The Kia Forum has hosted some of Hollywood’s biggest stars over the last year and has been bringing in top acts for over half a century. Since this is an indoor venue, shows run all year long, and December is welcoming timeless legends like Stevie Nicks, Bruce Springsteen and Aerosmith. With a capacity of over 17,000, expect lively vibes and huge crowds. There are several concession stands that sell food and drink, and as far as concession food goes, the personal pizzas are incredibly tasty. Plus, if you’re lucky enough to snag lower bowl seats, the views are unbeatable.

Location: Inglewood 


Fremont Theater

Best Live Music Venues California
Credit: Fremont Theater

From Dean Lewis to Casey Frey, the Fremont Theater is San Luis Obispo’s premier venue for all things music and entertainment. Located in downtown SLO, the Fremont Theater has been around since 1941. The bright, neon-lit exterior possesses a timeless charm, and there are plenty of art deco accents in every corner. The painted ceiling and walls create a unique atmosphere inside, while the classic red, padded theater seats ensure that you can sit or stand during most shows. The movie theater-style concession stands serve beer and wine along with buttery popcorn, personal pizzas and candy.

Location: San Luis Obispo 


Vina Robles Amphitheatre

Best Live Music Venues California
Credit: Acacia Productions

Looking to enjoy some live tunes in wine country? The Vina Robles Amphitheater is a staple for music lovers. The beautiful outdoor venue offers premium seating throughout, ensuring that a clear view of the stage is always available. Iconic cover band Rumors of Fleetwood Mac recently graced the stage, and there are a few more exciting acts to follow before the season ends. Carly Pearce is set to perform on Nov. 1, while Daryl Hall will follow the next day. Though you cannot bring in your own picnic baskets or beverages, Vina Robles Amphitheater has plenty of dining and drinking options. Savor a local glass of Vina Robles Estate wine as the sun sets behind the stage. 

Location: Paso Robles


Hollywood Bowl

Since it opened in 1922, the Hollywood Bowl has been one of the most iconic music venues in Los Angeles. Though the Summer Season is most popular, the Hollywood Bowl still has a handful of highly anticipated shows on the calendar. Iconic rock band Kiss will be performing on Nov. 3, and Hozier will be following on the day after. If you’re ready to get in the holiday spirit, be sure to attend Mariah Carey’s “Merry Christmas One and All” show on Nov. 17. The Hollywood Bowl is also known for having some of the best food and drink options. Come hungry for some street tacos and a bottle of wine from the market before kicking back in your seat to enjoy the show. 

Location: Hollywood 


The Libbey Bowl

Located in the charming and quiet town of Ojai, The Libby Bowl brings a whole new meaning to music under the stars. The small but beautiful amphitheater is surrounded by wildlife and trees in Libby Park, making you feel more connected to nature while you immerse yourself in the sounds of local performers and orchestras. Though the season ended on Oct. 22,  you still have a couple more chances to experience The Libby Bowl in 2023. The Ojai Pops Fall Concert Series will take place on Nov. 5!

Location: Ojai



Golden State Theatre

Whether you’re a Monterey local or simply hoping to escape the hustle and bustle of San Francisco, Golden State Theatre is always worth a visit. The classic interior is met with medieval Spanish accents and traditional red theater seats, making you feel as though you’ve stepped back in time for the evening. In addition to beloved comedian guests like Jerry Seinfeld, Golden State Theater has also played host to musicians like The Beach Boys. In addition to the full bar, the venue sells chips and other snacks, but there are also plenty of solid restaurants within walking distance for a little pre-show dinner.

Location: Monterey

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Allie Lebos graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2017 with a BA in Communication. While in school she was a staff writer at The Daily Nexus for nearly two years. Since graduating she has written for The Palisades Magazine, as well as Hidden Hills Magazine. Currently living in Santa Monica, Allie loves to indulge in good food, hot yoga, and daily walks along the beach; writing articles on travel, special events, as well as features on local businesses and individuals.

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