- Adam Kincaid for the AJC
Outdoor music venues are a big part of the summer experience.
From spring's Shaky Knees (and Beats) to the autumn's social crescendo at Music Midtown, the shows of the summer are part of us all.
Here are the best outdoor music venues to catch your favorites throughout the year:
2200 Encore Parkway, Alpharetta
Verizon Wireless Amphitheater at Encore Park, or "Verizon," is the counterpoint to Lakewood Amphitheater. Situated as far north as Lakewood is south, Verizon is essentially the same venue, but a bite newer. From an amenities perspective, it's easily the nicest place to see a show outside the perimeter. But do you have permission to go wild at Verizon? No. You do not. Enjoy Van Morrison, though.
135 W. Wieuca Road NW, Atlanta
In the awkward sprawl of post-Buckhead, pre-Sandy Springs along Roswell Road is Chastain Park; Atlanta's largest park (believe it or not) is home to one of the city's oldest and most celebrated outdoor concert venues. Hosting more than 100 events each year, the amphitheater (which seats around 7,000) has been in business since the 1940's. The stone walls, picnic tabled pit, seats and lawn come together to create one of the more relaxed concert going environments in the city. Which is exactly the vibe you'll be looking for as you take your captain's hat to the yacht rocking smooth rock of Michael McDonald.
2002 Lakewood Ave. SE, Atlanta
Okay, so Aaron's Amphitheater at Lakewood, or "Lakewood" to the initiated, does not score terribly high on any realistic assessment, but the most endearing quality that gets this South of Atlanta venue on the list is: anything can happen there. Anything. For some, that wide open feeling — the social permission to cut loose and get wild— is the shedding of a burden. For some, it may be perceived as chaos in the highest order. The degree to which one tolerates anarchy may correlate with their appreciation for Lakewood.
Sure, there are better outdoor venues by any other measure. But there just isn't a better place to do a Snoop Dog and Wiz Khalifa show.
265 Park Ave. W NW, Atlanta
If Piedmont Park is the most celebrated green space, Chastain the largest, and Botanical Gardens the most beautiful, what is Centennial Olympic Park? Perhaps it is our center. With a fractured history as nuanced as the city itself, once the site of the Olympic crowds, then the sad home to one of America's earliest domestic terrorism bombings, and later the central ground at the core between dozens of downtown tourism's best offerings. Today, it's the park that hosts the shows we love like the OutKast reunion and Shaky Knees. Maybe we can think of Centennial as our centermost shared space.
1345 Piedmont Ave. NE, Atlanta
Talk about backdrop. It's a shame the Botanical Gardens doesn't bring many shows to their calendar focused at younger audiences, because there simply isn't a more beautiful place to listen to music than the city's lushest gardens. The acoustics and sight lines are fantastic and the skyline views tie the whole thing together. The lineup for most summers at the Botanical Gardens, though, trends towards the rock and folk of yesteryear, which is great if you're into that.
1071 Piedmont Ave., Atlanta
The best place to watch a concert in Atlanta is on the lawns of our public space crown jewel, Piedmont Park. Readily accessible by MARTA, the festival schedule at Piedmont Park runs nearly year-round. From free events like the Atlanta Jazz Festival to the big draws like Music Midtown, the park is just so very flexible. The scenic views and skylines are beyond remarkable, the location is central, the crowds manageable and the security....accepting of most concert going shenanigans within reason. In the years where Music Midtown was held elsewhere, it just wasn't the same.