Funhacking the Hollywood Bowl

THE GOODS:  It’s summer in LA, and of course that means evening concerts at the Hollywood Bowl.  What’s the best way to make the most of your visit?

In addition to being a great concert venue where you can catch legendary acts, the Bowl offers great picnicking areas where you can gather a group of friends pre-concert and relax with some food and drinks before heading in to the show.  Here are some of my key tips for funhacking your visit, to get the most enjoyment out of your Hollywood Bowl concert experience from beginning to end!

Hollywood Bowl box office (image courtesy of

Buying tickets:  If you are able, I HIGHLY recommend visiting the Hollywood Bowl box office in person and buying your tickets, 12-6pm everyday but Monday.  Not only can this save you lots of money on infuriating Ticketmaster fees, which can add 20-30% to the total cost of your concert tickets, it’s also much easier to buy groups of tickets by speaking directly with a ticket agent on site.  Another option is to visit the box office when you’re already there attending another show. But get to the ticket window quick as they close 30 minutes before showtime.

Seat selection:  The best place to sit in any of the Super Seats sections (F through X) is in row 1.  Always choose this row if you can! Aside from having no other people in front of you, you will typically be seated behind a wall that you can use as an additional picnic tabletop surface for your food and drinks. Super convenient!

Look at all that extra space we have for our plates and our drinks!


Getting there without losing your mind:  whether you’re coming from near or far, if you’re not able to use the Metro Red Line, just take advantage of the Park-n-Ride or the Bowl  shuttles for minimal headaches. Anyone who likes stack parking and traffic jams, raise your hand! (crickets…) Using one of these convenient buses allows you quick access both in and out of the mess on Highland Ave pre- and post-show.  Park & Ride buses pick up and drop off from more far-flung locations (like Torrance, Chatsworth, Arcadia, and East LA), while the Bowl Shuttle allows you to park your car near the Bowl (LA Zoo is a convenient location) but not get stuck with the parking situation at the Bowl itself.  For both options, you can prepurchase tickets online or pay cash when you board the bus.  Secret tip: you can also buy tickets for the Park & Ride or the Bowl Shuttle at the box office, saving on fees!


The Torrance Park & Ride bus.

Get your picnic on: Bring a cooler and your favorite snacks, and once you get to the Bowl from your bus dropoff, walk to one of the numerous Picnic Areas located near the main entrance and settle down for a pre-show glass of wine and some catching up with friends. My personal favorite is Picnic Area 3, at the top of a flight of stairs with plentiful seating and lots of shady trees to rest under.  Get to your picnic area EARLY as they fill up fast!  If you can’t find a picnic area with a table, be inventive – plenty of people just plop down a blanket and spread out their treats in the grass alongside the main walkway. I’ve noticed that the Bowl now has additional bench seating in the walkways leading up to the various levels, also an option.  When your picnic’s over, bring your remaining snacks and wine into the Bowl, they allow it! (But pay special attention to whether your show is a Lease Event (e.g. any non-LA Philharmonic produced shows).  Lease events DO NOT allow any outside alcohol!

Picnic Area 3

Picnic Area 3

At your seats:  Hopefully you will be enjoying your seats in Row 1 with extra picnic legroom and wine-holding capacities.  You’ll probably be on your feet dancing if you’re at one of the KCRW shows, but otherwise, those wooden bench seats can be extremely uncomfortable after a while!  You can rent cushions for $1 from the Bowl.  Sometimes they run out though, so I will pack in my own. I bring one of these outdoor blankets that fold into a tote, it makes a great seat cushion and it can be used for a picnic blanket if there’s no seats in the picnic area!

The Hollywood Bowl also created this handy guide for first-time visitors. Armed with this guide and the tips above, you should have a stellar summer concert season!

Hollywood Bowl
2301 North Highland Avenue
Hollywood, CA 90068
(323) 850-2000


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