The Hollywood Bowl is as well known for its picturesque setting as it is for the amazing acoustics, which showcase a diverse range of artists, from classical to jazz, rock and pop. Named “Best Major Outdoor Concert Venue” eight years in a row, the Bowl is a 1920’s amphitheater, nestled in the Hollywood Hills, and is loved by both locals and visitors alike. The venue attracts concert goers of all ages and backgrounds, and when done right, concerts at the Bowl can be a great opportunity to introduce the whole family to a live music experience. While not all musical performances are suitable for children of a younger age, there are usually several acts playing each season which would make for a great, family-friendly experience. Here are several tips and tricks for enjoying a concert at the Hollywood Bowl with the entire family.
Choosing which concert to take the family to see at the Hollywood Bowl is the first important step in planning out your visit. Consider an artist that the entire family is familiar with, even if it is “adult” music. The summer concert series is also a great time for a family-friendly visit, as the Bowl offers concerts featuring a whole host of artists, with a central theme. This is a fun and entertaining way to introduce younger children especially, who may not know a wide variety of music but will enjoy the ever-changing roster of artists throughout the night. Some nights the Bowl features a fireworks spectacular along with the concert, which are always captivating for audience members of all ages.
Keep in mind that children under two years old do not need a ticket to enter, but those over two will require a seat. Keep your child’s disposition and temperament in mind when considering an evening at the Bowl. While there’s always the opportunity to walk around to burn off energy, concert venue etiquette asks that children should be able to at least sit quietly while viewing the show.
One of the most beloved aspects of the Hollywood Bowl is the ability to bring your own food and beverages into the venue. While box seats with fold-out tables make for a comfortable venue dining experience, the majority of the seats are situated in rows, as a standard concert format. If you’re bringing the family, plan to arrive a bit early, before the concert starts, and take advantage of the numerous picnic areas the Bowl offers throughout its facilities. There are grassy hills, tables, and concrete planters that are all suitable for sitting and enjoying a casual meal together. There are also numerous picnic tables available outside, before you enter the venue, which are lovely and well maintained.
If you’re planning to eat inside the venue in one of the designated picnic areas, make sure to bring a blanket to lie down, which you can always use later if the weather turns a bit chilly. If you didn’t have time to plan ahead, food is available inside the venue at several stands, but it is always an exciting and unique culinary experience if you can throw together a meal ahead of time. Packing desserts and treats is always a great option for children who may get a bit restless during the concert, or you can plan on picking up dessert while at the Bowl. This gives children the opportunity to get up and stretch their legs a bit.
There are several options for getting to the Bowl, and for parking once you’re there. There are several Park & Ride locations throughout L.A. County, offering buses that pick you up and drive you back and forth to the concert. This is a good option if you have older children; however it makes for a long evening with the younger ones. If you drive your own car, there is stacked parking available right outside the Bowl for $17-$35, or you can park a bit further away in standard parking lots, and take advantage of the Bowl Shuttle, which will take you straight to the entrance.
No matter how you get to the Bowl or where you park, make sure the whole family is wearing comfortable shoes. The venue is expansive and often steep, as it’s situated on a hilltop, so lots of walking will be involved. If you have younger children who tire easily, consider bringing a compact stroller, which you can store in the Operations office during the concert.
Besides comfortable shoes, you want to make sure the whole family is also dressed for an enjoyable night of comfort. There is no dress code at the Bowl, so come as you are, and dress the kids in clothes that they can stretch and move in, as well as stay warm in. Since concerts run until at least 10 p.m., dress younger children in clothes they can even sleep comfortably in, in case they fall asleep during the concert, or on the way home.
While nights at the Bowl can get chilly, dress in layers that are easy to remove and carry, and consider bringing a lap blanket. Another must is the cushion rental for $1, which makes for a more comfortable and enjoyable concert experience. Simply rent once you’re there, and leave it in your seat at the end of the show.
A family trip to the Bowl is a memorable event for everyone. Make sure to snap a family photo in front of the huge marquee or the iconic arena at dusk. This is a great memento to have for childhood memory books. Theater policy prohibits professional camera equipment with detachable lenses, but a great photo on a smartphone or GoPro is easy to snap and save.
The concert venue seats over 17,000 people, so it goes without saying that performers may be difficult to see during the concert. While the two huge screens flanking the amphitheater help, consider bringing along a small pair of binoculars, if you have them. This will give kids a chance to see the artists a bit more up-close and personal, and also serve as a bit of a distraction during restless periods.
For very young children and those sensitive to sound, don’t forget a pair of headphones, to help make for a happier concert experience for all.
If your children are of the age where a full concert experience makes you a bit nervous, but you still want to introduce them to the Bowl, consider the Summer Sounds program, a four-week series offered during the peak of summer. Featuring live music and art workshops from cultures around the world, Summer Sound concerts offer kids the opportunity to be introduced to lively dance and music from enthusiastic and engaging hosts and musical acts.
It’s never too early, or late, to start making lasting musical memories with the entire family. Visit the Hollywood Bowl website to obtain tickets and concert information.