Red Rocks Ampitheatre

Red Rocks Ampitheatre (Photo by Adam Springer on Shutterstock)

If you’re an avid concert-goer, or even just someone who loves to jam out, there’s no denying that a great venue can greatly affect your experience. There are several factors to consider when it comes to creating concert memories you’ll never forget. Besides sound and acoustics being the obvious one, location and view, layout, and the history behind the venue can all contribute to your experience. In this article, we’re taking a road trip to discover the best concert venues in the U.S. From intimate indie spots to legendary arenas that have seen it all, get ready to explore the stages where all genres of music take center stage across the country.

Though you may not think so, sometimes the acoustics of a venue can greatly change the way sound is reflected and perceived to our ears. Even the smallest changes in bass affect how much people want to dance. Researchers in a study from McMaster University find that people dance almost 12 percent more when a very low frequency bass is playing. Throughout the concert, the researchers manipulated the very-low bass-playing speakers, turning them on and off every two minutes. They found the amount of movement was 11.8 percent greater when the speakers were on, showing that it is in fact — all about that bass.

If you’re doubting whether it will be worth it to spend money on a ticket, a new study finds that live music might be better for your mental health than doing yoga. Researchers found that those who spent just 20 minutes watching a live performance showed the highest gains in mood and well-being at 21 percent. Yogis, meanwhile, saw their mood improve by 10 percent during the same duration, while dog walkers experienced a seven percent boost in spirits.

Ready to rock? StudyFinds did the research for you, compiling a list of five of the best concert venues in the U.S. Though some of these venues certainly warrant a trip, if you happen to live near one of these venues be sure to check out their schedules for the upcoming concert season! What’s your favorite concert venue? Let us know in the comments below!

The List: Best Concert Venues, According to Music Experts

1. Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Red Rocks is well-known amongst most music aficionados as being the most beautiful concert venues. “Red Rocks is so special, in fact, that it won the Best Small Outdoor Venue award from industry magazine Pollstar so many times (11!) that the magazine just renamed the trophy the Red Rocks Award so that the venue could no longer be in the running — you can’t beat it,” raves Rolling Stone

Red Rocks Ampitheatre
Red Rocks Ampitheatre (Photo by Ryan Loughlin on Unsplash)

Every genre of music plays here, and fans are treated to a breathtaking outdoor view of sunset amongst the Denver boulders. The natural acoustics make for a unforgettable experience. “Named after the beautiful red sandstone rocks, this surreal venue is located between two gigantic sandstone boulders, creating natural, out of this world acoustics,” explains Music Gateway. “This venue is possibly the most unique venue in the US. It sits 6,450 feet above sea level with magnificent views of the Denver area. Performing bands or artists will feel as if they are performing in nature to almost 10,000 highly energetic fans.”

“As the world’s only naturally-occurring and acoustically perfect amphitheater, Red Rocks is one of the very best outdoor music venues in the U.S.,” writes Fodors. “Since its grand opening in the summer of 1941, the world’s greatest musicians have graced its stage which is made up of two 300-foot sandstone rocks. The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Jimi Hendrix, Radiohead, U2, Sting, Dolly Parton, and Diana Ross have all rocked the stage.”

2. Carnegie Hall

Carnegie Hall is the most prestigious venue in the U.S. for classical music and has a rich history of talent, having opened in the 1800s. “America’s most famous concert hall officially opened in 1891 with a concert conducted in part by Tchaikovsky. Famous works that have had their world premières here include Dvorak’s ‘New World Symphony’ and George Gershwin’s ‘An American in Paris‘,” explains ClassicFM.

Set in the middle of bustling Manhattan, Carnegie Hall is part of an artistic hub that developed around the two blocks of West 57th Street from Sixth Avenue west to Broadway during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. “A true institution in the realm of classical music, Carnegie Hall is revered for its exceptional acoustics and historical significance,” says Yahoo. “This iconic venue, with a seating capacity of around 2,800, has played host to countless legendary musicians, orchestras, and ensembles. The elegance and prestige of Carnegie Hall create a transcendent concert experience, where music enthusiasts can bask in the sheer brilliance of virtuosic performances.”

“It’s always hard to pick the best of anything, as what defines ‘quality’ isn’t exactly set in stone,” writes Musician Wave. “Yet, it’s more than fair to say that Carnegie Hall is, at the very least, one of the most emblematic music venues in history. Just like the Colosseum in Rome, this iconic concert hall sits at the heart of the American empire and has been a Manhattan milestone since the late 1800s.”

3. The Caverns

If you’re looking for one of the most unique concert venues, try listening to music in a cave. The Caverns was created almost entirely by nature, but was converted to its current state by Todd Mayo, head of PBS’s “Bluegrass Underground”. Teams of excavators and geologists cleared the existing cave and turned it into the amazing music venue it is today, making the acoustics and experience unmatched. “There is just something about an outdoor amphitheater that just makes music sound better,” says Music in Minnesota. “The Caverns in Tennessee is no exception.”

Even if none of your favorite artists are playing here, the venue itself is worth seeing on its own if you’re in the area since the site runs tours for the public. “If there’s a music venue that should also be called an experience, that’s The Caverns!” explains Musician Wave. “The prehistoric natural acoustics are yet another reason to explore one of the world’s most interesting concert halls. It’s not every day that one gets the chance to visit a music venue that’s existed for over 25,000 years.”

“The magnificent Caverns is a one-of-a-kind architectural marvel as well as one of the world’s naturally acoustically ideal underground venues, making it one of the best concert halls in the US,” writes The Travel. “This natural cave system in Grundy County, Tennessee, has hosted numerous famous artists both underground and outside in an open-air amphitheater. Even without a concert, the Caverns is a must-see attraction in Tennessee due to their historical significance and amazing ambiance.”

4. The Gorge Amphitheatre

The Gorge is known for its majestic sunsets that can be viewed above the Columbia River in Washington. “The Gorge Amphitheatre is another popular outdoor venue in the U.S. Known for its scenic location on a river, this amphitheater holds over 20,000 fans and has hosted concerts for artists of every genre,” explains Loudwire.

Fans can enjoy concerts or festivals here while being surrounded by nature, without worrying about an obstructed view or compromised sound. “Situated in the picturesque Columbia River Gorge, The Gorge Amphitheatre is renowned for its stunning views and impeccable sound quality,” says One37PM. “Its unique open-air design allows concertgoers to revel in nature while enjoying performances from their favorite artists. With a capacity of 20,000, this venue has become a mecca for music lovers in the Pacific Northwest.”

“Located more than 100 miles from both Seattle and Spokane, the Gorge in Washington is a destination venue in every sense. But with campgrounds located on site, getting there and staying there are a part of the experience,” writes Consequence. “Because, the best attribute that the Gorge has going for it is the scenic qualities. Breathtaking views of a literal gorge created by the Columbia River create a backdrop for the stage, with the amphitheater’s high-arching setup intact for everyone to take in the majestic scenery while enjoying the concert.”

5. The Hollywood Bowl

The Hollywood Bowl always has a busy season (especially in the summer!) with concerts and symphony performances, many of which are free and open to the public or allow you to bring your own picnic. “Considered to be one of the most popular venues in the US, The Hollywood Bowl opened in the 1920s,” says Music Gateway. “This live music venue in Los Angeles is a 17,500 seated venue. It has a signature iconic shell and stage that bands can perform under. The stage is located in front of the Hollywood Hills and the infamous Hollywood sign.”

Besides a slew of memorable musical talent, the venue even hosts a July 4th firework spectacular. “Unquestionably one of the top outdoor concert venues in the U.S., the Hollywood Bowl is a legendary performance space, public park, and picnic ground,” writes Fodors. “The Los Angeles Philharmonic performed its first Easter Sunrise Service back in 1921 and has continued to call this iconic venue home ever since.” 

Rolling Stone recounts history: “Since the 17,500-person capacity venue opened in 1922, artists have been making history there year after year: The Beatles played there in 1965 and 1965 and released the live album, The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl, using recordings they made there; the Doors do the same in 1968; Monty Python staged their last full revue there in 1982; Kanye West chose the venue as the perfect place to play his 808s & Heartbreak album in its entirety in 2015; Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers played what would be their final shows together there in 2017 before his death.”

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.

About Elsa Lee

Elsa is a freelance journalist, copywriter, and marketer based out of the Los Angeles area. She has been writing for 7 years.

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19 Comments

  1. Marjorie Wax says:

    You missed the best venue of all Wolftrap in Vienna, Virginia! In addition to being a national park it has some of the most diverse programming of any music venue.

  2. Kelly says:

    Love that you chose Red Rocks as your number one venue! I’ve been going to concerts there for almost 40 years now! Just saw All Time Low this year in May! It’s the perfect venue for a concert, a hike, or even a movie!

  3. bj smith says:

    Red rocks was terrible, the acoustics, weather and shity seats make it awful. For those who have never been it looks cool, but it sucks as a concert venue. Also the crowd is typically very ugly. I stopped going there this year.

  4. Los says:

    The Greek Theatre in Los Angeles is better than the 5 you listed.

  5. Rick says:

    Speaking as a person who grew up in Southern California, I’ll take the Greek over the Hollywood Bowl.

  6. JB says:

    The Caverns is NOT natural by any means. I wonder how much they paid to be in this? It was a crawl space that was dug out, and concrete poured. It’s not a natural cave. Cumberland Caverns IS a real cave with a concert venue. It’s not man made at all. Please educate yourself on these before making false statements, you need to correct the falsehoods in this piece.

  7. Jim K says:

    What about Pine Knob … ask a musician . It is a looked forward to stop during summer tours. Open in the 70’s it has continued to extend its technology to the favor of audience and talent alike. Great natural setting and was featured on the cover of Joni Mitchels Miles of Aisles album.

  8. Josh says:

    Where’s Alpine Valley?

  9. R. D. Porper says:

    The Pritzker Pavillion in Chicago’s Grant Park has a world class amplification system. Should be on any list of outdoor concert venues.

  10. Michael Padilla says:

    The Santa Barbara County Bowl is definitely a cut above The Hollywood Bowl!

    1. Terry says:

      As a lifelong professional musician, the real answer is the smaller the better… both for the musicians and the audience…

  11. Scarlet Begonias says:

    Colorado has a number of scenic outdoor venues, but IMHO Telluride Town Park has an unparalleled view, especially from the musicians’ vantage. Gorgeous!

    1. Constance Zollinger says:

      Bingo! I just got through saying the same!

  12. Connie Zollinger says:

    No in Colorado the best venue bar none is Telluride!
    50 years of Bluegrass
    29 years of Blues/Brews!
    You definitely missed more than a few!

  13. Margo says:

    If you’ve never experienced the Moon Crush venue in Destine FL you’ve missed out best concert venue ever. Everyone is VIP and total catered to. 4 day concert you get your same cove everyday no bumping shoulder to shoulder and losing your place close to your favorite bands. Food, drinks Merch, brought to your cove air-conditioned bathrooms for everyone.

  14. Kenny Ma says:

    Apparently you have never been to the Ryman Auditorium. You are a novice reporter

  15. Kathy says:

    Just saw Tereshkova Truck Band at Red Rocks Friday night – it was fantastic and a great venue!

    1. Jeffrey Lemke says:

      Tedeschi Trucks Band?

  16. Terry says:

    As a lifelong professional musician, the real answer is the smaller the better… both for the musicians and the audience…