Cultural Experience | San Francisco

Tips to Get Inside the Outside Lands

Get the scoop on the raddest music festival in California.

We are in the midst of music festival season with my personal favorite right around the corner.  Outside Lands has taken place every August since 2008 in Golden Gate Park in the heart of San Francisco.  It is three days filled with pure San Fran bliss.  The park itself is made up of lush green grass and trees.  It is easy to find yourself lost in what seems like a forest.  There are different pathways and separate “lands” all decorated with lights and signs.  What separates OSL from festivals like Coachella is that there is such a broad age group.  I have seen grandparents and 6 year old children walking around the park.  The vibe is a bit more laid back and more about the music and food rather than fast paced and geared toward only the younger crowd.  I would describe it as being the most “genuine” music festival.  People are actually there to hear the music and enjoy their time rather than other places where might be easier to find a group that is there for the social, style, or drug/alcohol aspect.

Outside Lands is unique and a must see.  This guide will explain how to fully enjoy every aspect of Outside Lands:

Outside Lands, Music Festival, San Francisco

Outside Lands Sign

1. There is so much more to see beyond the bands.  Let us begin with the food.  The food that most would imagine to be at a music festival is far off when it comes to this San Francisco Festival.  The food is half the fun!  From Chocolands to Beerlands and Winelands, amazing places from all around the Bay Area are there serving up their best treats.  Do not shy away from the calories during this weekend.  You’ll be burning them off while jumping and running from stage to stage.  Indulge in the Nojo spicy chicken wings and Homeroom garlic mac and cheese.

2. Don’t Miss the Comedy During the Festival.  Check out The Barbary between your favorite bands and get a laugh in.  Bring a snack and listen to some of the funniest comedians crack their jokes.  It is a great way to pass the time and keeps you highly entertained.

3.  Do not plan on bringing a car and parking it anywhere near the park.  Unless you would rather spend hours trying to find an open curb rather than staring at your favorite artists, you need to use public transportation, a cab, or your legs.  If you are staying outside of the city you can always pay a small fee to use the Bart which gets you into San Fran in no time.  If you are in the city, it is definitely worth it to get on the bus or catch a cab to drop you off in front of the park.

4.  OSL STYLE.  This is mainly for the chicks.  Ladies, this is not Coachella.  San Francisco weather is mostly cloudy and chilly, but has the potential to be warm  sometimes.  You’ll see beanies and sweaters and crop tops with shorts. My first day in I wore a purple brandy dress (the classic dress that shows the back) with a light sweater over it and brought along a heavier jacket for later.  Believe it or not, I got pretty warm that day.  The next day I wore a long sleeved crop top and a skirt with combat boots which seemed to feel perfect.  That was a really hot day so I never even put on my jacket.  The night time is when it gets cold, and you may not even notice it until you start walking out and find yourself away form the crowded audience.  When planning outfits I would look at Urban Outfitters, Revolve, or  Although, the hippie vibe will force you to want to wear more flowy outfits, stay away from long skirts or pants because the moist grass will make for a rough day.  However, when it comes to accessories, pile them on!  I had a pair of huge Lucky Brand peace sign earrings on the entire weekend and tons of rings and bangles.  You can check out for a good selection at low prices.  When it comes to purses, the more secure the better.  I suggest a cross over type satchel.  This way it is harder for someone to grab it without you knowing.  And this does happen.

Outside Lands, Music Festival, What to wear, Fashion, San Fran

Day One Outfit

Outside Lands, Music Festival, Fashion

Plenty of Various Outfit examples! Notice the Sweaters!

OSL, Outside Lands, Style, San Fran

Day Two Outfits

5.  Late Night: What many people may not know is that although OSL ends at 10pm every night, the party never stops in the city.  The bands usually go to smaller venues to perform right after the festival.  If what you want is maximum face time with a particular band or singer, spend the money and grab the tickets.  So far this year, Death Cab for Cutie, Gold Panda, Typhoon, and many others have already announced their late night shows.

6. Put your phone down. Take those videos and pictures because you are going to want to relive every second once you get home.  However, do not let that get in the way of enjoying the performances.  The phrase, “Pics or didn’t happen” does not apply here.  This is your time to listen to the music and take in the fact that you are staring at probably one of your all time favorite musicians.  That is why you bought those tickets.


Red Hot Chilli Peppers, OSL, Festival

During the Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ Set

Paul McCartney, OSL, Festival, San Fran

Paul McCartney’ Set (amazing)

7. Front Row. If there is a band that you are absolutely crazy about and is the reason you bought those tickets, do not take your time getting to their stage.  If you want a good front row peak, you have got to be there a good amount of time before their act starts.  Especially if they are well known.  For smaller bands that play at stages like the Panhandle or Sutro you can usually get a good spot, but Lands End and Twin Peaks are the stages that are usually packed the whole day.  However, no matter where you are in the crowd, you are going to hear some great music!  So, don’t get too aggressive when it comes to pushing to the front.

Daughter, OSL, San Fran

Front Row to hear Daughter (favorite band, totally worth it)

If you have yet to snatch those OSL tickets, go for it.  This year’s highlights (in my opinion) are The Killers, The Arctic Monkeys, Tycho, Death Cab for Cutie, Vance Joy, Atmosphere, and SO many more! It will be a weekend for the books.  If you need a little push, check out this video made last year…..


Gian Ryan

UC Santa Barbara | 10 stories

Hi there! I'm Gian. I am currently a sophomore at UC Santa Barbara studying political science. In my teenage years I have been around the states and Europe to places like France, Spain, and England. I have visited Morocco and Lebanon. I am studying abroad in Florence, Italy in the coming fall. I'll be spending my summer in Los Angeles writing some fun and informative articles about traveling in college! Can't wait to get started.

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