Best of Broward / Palm Beach

Ten Best Outdoor Music Venues in Broward and Palm Beach

One of the great virtues of calling South Florida home is that we can be outside year-round. Sure, the summer months are tough with the heat, mosquitoes, and torrential downpours, but those are mere nuisances compared to winter up north.  And so we frolic in the outdoors as much as we can. We hit the beach in February. Our Christmas Eve dinners are outdoor barbecues. Most especially we love to dance under the starlit sky.

South Florida is littered with outdoor stages. From the steamy summertime to the balmy winter, you can find a jam somewhere under the stars. Here's the top ten list of outdoor music venues in Broward and Palm Beach counties.10. Sunfest
This outdoor music festival would make it higher on the list if it lasted longer than five days. For the last 33 years, downtown West Palm Beach has closed down its streets the first week of May for some of the greatest bands in popular music. Settled along the waterfront the last few years have been everyone from G-Eazy to Meghan Trainor to the Pixies.
9. Gulfstream Park
Even if you find horseracing barbaric, there is outdoor entertainment you'll like at Champions Plaza at Gulfstream Park. Tuesday nights from 7 to 10 p.m., Benji Rafaeli sings in more than ten languages, including English, French, Hebrew, Yiddish, and Russian. Each Saturday night from 8 to 11 p.m. brings a different band. Sunday nights from 6 to 9 p.m. belong to Travis Bridges' blend of soul and jazz.
8. Center Stage at Seminole Hard Rock
While Hard Rock Live brings in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame big boys like ZZ Top and Diana Ross, outside on Center Stage you can catch local bands playing both originals and cover songs. You won't need a ticket, and you won't be hampered by drink selection because a ton of Hard Rock's bars are within hearing distance. 
7. Fort Lauderdale Beach Hub
Friday nights from March to November, the corner of Las Olas Boulevard and A1A belongs to Friday Night Sound Waves. The program features bands of all genres, from Latin to rock to jazz, along with cover bands paying tribute to artists as varied as Elton John and the Blues Brothers. Perhaps the strongest draw is the backdrop of Fort Lauderdale Beach.
6. America's Backyard
Right on the strip in Downtown Fort Lauderdale, America's Backyard bills itself as "nothing short of a huge pool party, where the pool is swimming with bartenders and the deep end overflows with sparkling alcohol." Live bands, DJs, and rappers all have caused crowds to sweat deliriously in the biggest backyard in town.
5. Pompano Beach Amphitheater
This 3,000-seat venue is intimate enough that there really isn't a bad vantage point. This is a true open-air space, so if the weather does get bad, there's nowhere to hide from the rain. But you can afford a rain poncho on what you saved from the venue's free parking.
4. Mizner Park Amphitheater
Mizner Park is probably the closest thing to an architectural marvel on this list. This Boca Raton amphitheater has hosted the comedy duo Flight of the Conchords, '80s acts like Cyndi Lauper and A Flock of Seagulls, and the annual Sunshine Music & Blues Festival. 
3. Perfect Vodka Amphitheatre
Now that The Stadium Formerly Known As Joe Robbie is building a retractable roof,  this is the largest outdoor music venue in South Florida. With 8,000 permanent seats under cover and 12,000 bodies able to squirm onto the grass lawn, it brings in all the big acts. This year alone saw titans like Steely Dan, the Dixie Chicks, Brad Paisley,  the Dave Matthews Band, Gwen Stefani, and Snoop Dogg.  
2. ArtsPark at Young Circle
Young Circle is more than just a roundabout that slows your drive down Federal Highway. It's also a brilliant site for outdoor concerts. The gently sloping hill allows a sightline of the musicians even if you get there late and have to sit in the back. While most concerts coincide with a food truck gathering, you are also in walking distance of your favorite bars and restaurants on Hollywood Boulevard. 
1. Sunset Cove Amphitheater
As you drive west from Boca Raton toward Sunset Cove, you can be forgiven for thinking you are entering a wilderness. Situated on a lake that makes for great sunset views, Sunset Cove never feels full even when it flirts with its 6,000-person capacity. The sound quality is generally topnotch whether the musical act's genre is reggae, rock, or country.
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David Rolland is a freelance writer for New Times Broward-Palm Beach and Miami New Times. His novel, The End of the Century, published by Jitney Books, is available at many fine booksellers.
Contact: David Rolland