If you’ve never heard of Outside Lands, it’s time to tap into the 21st century. The Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival is a weekend-long musical event at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. The festival got its start in 2008, bringing more than 60 artists and groups to the Bay Area, and since then it has totally changed the definition of outdoor music events.

Outside Lands has always been a pioneer: It’s eco-friendly, with recycling and sustainability programs, farmers markets, and more. It hosted Golden Gate Park’s first-ever after-dark concert (Radiohead in 2008). And while it always has the heavy hitters, it’s also known to feature up-and-coming artists like Swedish pop band Little Dragon and LA locals Chicano Batman. Add incredible food, wine, beer, and cocktails—as well as local artists, comedy, and a little of the devil’s lettuce—and you’ve got a festival that has something for everyone…as long as you’re here to get weird.

What You Need to Know

When is Outside Lands Festival?

Outside Lands dates are Friday, August 9 to Sunday, August 11. The gates open at 11:00 a.m. each day, and the music starts at 12:00 p.m. and ends at 10:00 p.m. (except Sunday, when it ends at a very specific 9:35 p.m.).

Where is Outside Lands Festival?

Outside Lands takes place at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. The park is 1.5 square miles, so you might be wondering, where in Golden Gate Park is Outside Lands? The five stages will be set up between John F. Kennedy Drive to the north and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive to the south, with an eastern border at Crossover Drive and the main stage at Polo Field in the west.

How much are Outside Lands tickets?

Outside Lands tickets are $385 for a 3-day, general admission pass. VIP passes will run you $815, while a Golden Gate Pass is $1595 but gets you access to an included premium bar and elevated viewing area for the main stage. Just want to go for one day? Single-day tickets are $155 for GA, $355 for VIP, and $695 for Golden Gate Pass. (Note that these amounts don’t include fees.)

What should I bring to Outside Lands?

First things first: layers, blankets, and comfortable shoes top the list of things to bring to Outside Lands. Don’t let the fact that it’s California fool you. Daytime highs can top out at 60 degrees with lows in the 50s at night thanks to “Karl the Fog,” which is what locals call the cool breeze and fog typical of SF summers. Golden Gate Park is hilly, too (as is the rest of the city), and you’ll be doing lots of walking. In short, this ain’t Coachella—dress for comfort first, and prepare to get dirty.

Otherwise, there are a few rules that have changed recently. Here’s what you can and can’t bring in 2019.

Bring:
• Fanny pack or small purse, 6-inch by 8-inch max
• Drawstring bags, 13-inch by 16-inch max
• Clear backpacks and bags
• Two sealed water bottles, up to 1 liter each
• Empty Nalgene bottles or hydration packs under 2.5 liters
• Binoculars
• Blankets

Leave at home:
• Totems and flags (an unfortunate new rule as of 2018)
• Large inflatables
• Umbrellas
• Selfie sticks and GoPros
• Chairs, coolers, picnic baskets, and tents
• Illegal substances
• Alcohol
• Glass containers and cans
• Strollers and wagons

Who to See?

The Outside Lands lineup never disappoints, and 2019 is no exception. You already know you have to see headliners like Paul Simon, Childish Gambino, and Twenty-One Pilots. But Outside Lands festival is also a great place to see up-and-comers. Here are a few to watch:

PJ Morton: Yes, he’s in Maroon 5, but his solo act is one to watch, too.
Tierra Whack: What do you get when you blend R&B, rap, and killer freestyles? Philly-born phenom Tierra Whack.
Anderson.Paak & The Free Nationals: Rapper, songwriter, producer, instrumentalist, Grammy-Award-winner…you can’t miss Anderson.Paak.
DJ Koze: Bring your dancing shoes and get down to this unique dance music with a disco vibe.
Yaeji: Underground house music isn’t dead, and Brooklyn-based Yaeji proves it.
RL Grime: Get your shuffle on during the set of this LA-based trap and bass DJ.
Flying Lotus: This immersive, 3D live show will transport you to another world.

Don’t miss your favorite acts: pick up an Outside Lands map so you can make a plan.

What to Eat and Drink?

We told you this ain’t Coachella, and that goes for the food, too. Glorious gastronomy is one of the features that made this festival famous, and yes, some people come to Outside Lands in SF just for the food. There are Michelin-starred restaurants like Rich Table (porcini doughnuts) and Omakase (sushi). There’s Creole, German, and Filipino. There’s vegan and barbecue. There’s doughnuts, chicken and waffles…and bacon, bacon, and more bacon. With more than 80 restaurants set up, you’ll have plenty to choose from.

What about drinks? There are also 31 breweries, 46 wineries, and cocktails galore. Check out Beer Lands for local favorites like 21st Amendment Brewery and Anchor Brewing, as well as newcomer Woods Beer Co. Wine Lands features nearly 150 wines and 30 winemakers. One you’ve gotta try? No Fine Print, produced by the managers of Skrillex and Chance the Rapper. And the new and improved Cocktail Magic will be pouring five fresh recipes for 2019.

Getting There and Getting Around

Where is the closest airport?

San Francisco flights land at San Francisco International Airport (SFO), 13 miles south of the city center. The BART Rapid Rail is a quick and easy way to get into the city, and will cost you about $9.65 one-way. Take the AirTrain to the departures level of the International Terminal to purchase your ticket and head into the city.

How is the transportation?

Once you’ve dropped your stuff and settled in, it’s time to figure out how to get around the city—and most importantly, to and from Outside Lands Festival. Here are you options:

Shuttle pass: Avoid the crowds and ride share surge prices by buying a 3-day shuttle pass for $49.50. The shuttle leaves from Bill Graham Civic Auditorium near the Civic Center BART station. Get there by MUNI, Caltrain, or ride share and shuttle your way to the fest.
MUNI: Judah St. & 34th Ave. on the N light rail line drops you just under a half mile walk from the south entrance.
Two wheels: There will be a bicycle valet at the festival, so you won’t have to worry about your wheels. There’s also bicycle parking near the south entrance, near the box office, and along JFK Drive between Transverse and Stow Lake, so don’t forget your lock.
Ride share: Simply must arrive in a car? There will be a ride share area at 30th Ave. & Balboa St. near the main entrance and 36th Ave. between Irving St. and Judah St. near the south entrance.

Where to Stay?

“Where should I stay for Outside Lands?” isn’t as easy to answer as it seems. The City by the Bay has an amazing music scene and tons of interesting neighborhoods. Check out San Francisco hotels in these areas for the best audiophile attractions:

SoMa: Short for “South of Market,” this sprawling area is home to lively nightlife, craft breweries, and the famous Leela Improv. Stay near the Mid-Market area to be walking distance to the festival shuttle at Bill Graham Auditorium and to funky indie club Rickshaw Stop.
Fillmore: You can’t miss a show at The Fillmore while you’re in town, and a stay here puts you right near it. The Van Ness MUNI stop and Bill Graham Auditorium are also nearby for easy access.
The Mission: If eclectic is your middle name, the Mission is for you. Grab a craft cocktail, hit up late-night taquerias, and of course take in live music at The Chapel and Bottom of the Hill. Better yet, there are two BART stations in the area to take you to the shuttle at Bill Graham Auditorium.
The Tenderloin: Just south of Union Square, you’ll find tons of hotel options and access to the Powell Street BART station in this artsy, historic ’hood. Be sure to catch underground electronic DJs at MEZZANINE—you’ve never felt cooler.
Haight-Ashbury: Record stores like Amoeba Music and Rasputin Music call the Haight home, and you can practically hear the indie guitars at clubs like The Independent and Underground SF. Plus, you’re about as close as you can get to Golden Gate Park, with multiple MUNI stops.

Other Things to Do at Outside Lands Festival?

Classic Photo Ops

The Windmill at the main entrance is a must-have pic for your Instagram—but don’t forget about Ranger Dave. Wearing his nicest khakis and a monster mustache, Ranger Dave greets attendees and reminds them to always party safe.

Outsider Art

Speaking of the ’Gram, the art at Outside Lands was made for it. You’ll find it throughout the festival, from graffiti murals to sculptures. There’s even live mural painting where you can watch the art come to life.

Barbary Comedy Show

Don’t miss out on the legendary comedians that take the stage at the Barbary. You do need tickets to get in, and it can be competitive, so get to the reservation booth early. This year’s barrel of laughs will be provided by Mike Birbiglia, Dulce Sloan of “The Daily Show” fame, Jimmy O. Yang from “Silicon Valley,” and Tony Danza’s four-piece band (yes, you read that right).

GrassLands

Here’s another sentence that will make you do a double-take: This year’s festival will feature a “curated cannabis experience” to celebrate—and imbibe—the unofficial state plant of California. At its debut in 2018, this section had edible treats, “scent walls,” and the “Farm to Bong” competition, in which festival-goers carved smoking devices out of produce. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Whew, that was quite a journey through the land of Outside Lands in San Francisco. As you can tell, there is a ton to see and do at this quintessential California festival. But with the right plan—and comfy shoes—you can tackle it all at expert level.

 

Header image: Via PopTika/Shutterstock.com