Are you ready to get down and boogie with your little rock stars? San Diego is jam packed with free tunes via summer concerts all season long. Time to let the kids stay up late, relax with friends and family and enjoy a sunset and picnic while music fills the open air. Read on for our guide to the concerts in your neighborhood and then gather your tribe and create a new summertime ritual!

photo: Bro-Am

North County

Carlsbad TGIF Concerts in the Park
This popular series is held in four local parks, so there’s always something new to check out. In addition to the music, kids can create art with Family Open Studios and adults can buy tickets for opportunity drawings. There’s lots of on-site food for sale that promises to be tasty, convenient and affordable. Carlsbad always books some of the best musical talent around. This year, don’t miss Orgone on Aug. 10. You’ll dig dancing to the funky soul sounds of this band straight outta SoCal. Concerts at all sites begin at 6 p.m.

Stagecoach Park: June 22 29, July 6
Poinsettia Park: July 13 & 20
Calavera Hills Park: July 27 & Aug. 3
Alga Norte Park: Aug. 10 & 17

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Del Mar Foundation Summer Twilight Concerts
Enjoy a beautiful sunset right on the beach. Powerhouse Park: June 19, July 10, August 7 & 21. Concerts begin with an opening act at 6 p.m.

Encinitas Summer Concerts by the Sea
Rock out on the sand with classic rock cover bands like Fan Halen and the Pettybreakers. There will be hands-on activities for the kids and freebie surprises for all. Moonlight Beach, 1st & 3rd Sundays in July and August: July 1 & 15, Aug 5 & 19; 3 p.m.

Encinitas: Switchfoot Bro-am
The 14th Annual Switchfoot Bro-Am is the ultimate family-friendly music beach party. Check out an awesome surf competition and free concerts on the sand while raising money for local community and youth programs supporting music in schools and fighting hunger. Huge crowds love to celebrate the local vibe with our hometown alternative rock band heroes. Parking can be difficult. Click here for transportation alternatives. One day only: Moonlight Beach, June 30th; 7 a.m.- 5 p.m.

photo: Del Mar Summer Twilight Concerts

Escondido: San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum
San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum hosts concerts every other Friday throughout the summer. Hullabaloo, Lionel Baptiste, Israel Maldonado and Ruth and Emilia are on this year’s lineup. Wander the museum after hours from 5-8 p.m. on these special summer nights. Dance, wiggle and create crafts in the Outdoor Maker Studio. Dinner is available on-site from food trucks. There’s even beer and wine to purchase for adults. June 22, July 6 & 20, Aug. 3.; Music begins at 6 p.m.Admission: $8/person (infants under 12 months are free).

Leucadia: Summer Fun on the 101
This fun festival features 10 live bands for a day of celebrating music and musicians. Includes youth performers, hula hooping, kids art and a local battle of the bands. Come cheer on their talent. One day only: Leucadia Roadside Park, Sat., June 23; noon-7:30 p.m.

Poway Summer Concert Series
All you need is love, a picnic (or cash for the food trucks) and chairs to enjoy Sunday concerts in Poway. Parking here is free for Poway residents. $10/car for all others. The lot typically fills up by 4 p.m. A convenient free shuttle is available from Poway High School. Concerts at both sites begin at 5:30 p.m.

Lake Poway: June 24, July 8 & 22, Aug. 5
Old Poway Park: July 15 & 29, Aug. 12

Oceanside
Oceanside’s free concerts have expanded this year and include Friday night music at three sites around town. Rancho del Oro Park -June 15 & July 20, Mance Buchanon Park- Aug. 10, South Oceanside Elementary Park- Sept. 14. All shows begin at 5 p.m.

photo: San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum

Scripps Ranch Symphony in the Park
Don’t stop believing in awesome summer fun! Kick off the summer festivities with DSB singing Journey classics. Hoyt Park: June 10, July 15, Aug. 12, Sept. 19; 6 p.m.

Solana Beach Concerts at the Cove
Fletcher Cove Park: Every Thursday, June 21 – August 23, 6 p.m. Don’t miss the fun when kids’ favorite Hullaballoo plays on July 5.

photo: Allied Gardens First Friday via Facebook

San Diego Central

Allied Gardens First Friday Concert Series
This series has become increasingly popular with residents each year. Stop by sponsor Ideal Plumbing’s booth for a free hotdog and chips between songs. Allied Gardens Recreation Center: First Friday of the month, June-Oct.; 6 p.m.

Balboa Park Spreckels Organ Festival
Stay up late and bask in the unique beauty this Organ Pavilion brings when all lit up. We think Rocking Balboa: A Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin Tribute on Sept. 3rd sounds like an awesome way to wrap up summer! Spreckels Organ Pavilion: Mondays, June 25-Sept. 3; 7:30 p.m.

Balboa Park Twilight Series
There’s no excuse to miss out on the music with this series which runs three days each week from June-August. You’ll enjoy a great variety of local music to inspire little musicians including bluegrass, mambo and military bands. Check out a free ice cream social for the whole community on Aug. 7. Come early (5:50 p.m.) to nab your free cone! Spreckels Organ Pavilion: Tues., Weds. & Thurs.; 6:30-7:30 p.m.

photo: Arts District Liberty Station

Liberty Station Concerts
The ARTS DISTRICT Liberty Station hosts its super popular four concert series featuring local musicians and bands on the grassy North Promenade on the 4th Sunday of each month. Sundays, June 24 – September 23;  5 p.m.

Mission Hills Summer Concerts in the Park
Pioneer Park: Fridays, June 22-Aug 17; 6 p.m.

Pacific Beach Concerts on the Green
Take a picnic and bask in the glory of one of the best views of San Diego Bay at sunset. Kate Sessions Park: Sundays, July 22- Aug. 12; 4-6:30 p.m.

Point Loma Summer Concerts
This popular venue has it all: different local restaurants selling food each week from tamales to tri-tip to Portuguese sausage, the local Lions Club selling drinks and cookies to raise money for their charitable work and of course, great music. We think “Who’s Bad,” a Michael Jackson tribute band playing on Aug 17 sounds like a lot of fun! This venue has a Junior Stage too. Cheer on a neighbor kid’s band. Free parking and shuttle service provided from All Souls’ Episcopal Church lot. No alcohol permitted. Pt. Loma Park: Fridays, July 20-Aug 17; 5:30-8:30 p.m

Seaport Village
This is one of the longest running music series of the summer. Come any Sundays this summer and you’ll find the tunes. East Plaza Gazebo: Sundays, June-Sept.; 1- 4 p.m.

University City Summer Concerts
UC proudly hosts local professional bands in this series held in Standley Park. Sundays, July 9- Aug 13; 5 p.m. and Fridays, Aug 18 & 25; 6 p.m.

University Heights Summer in the Park Concert Series
Grab dinner before or after the fun at one of the many surrounding restaurants. Trolley Barn Park: every Friday in July; 6 p.m.

photo: City of Santee

El Cajon Dinner & A Concert
No need to bring a picnic. Pick up an easy dinner at a surrounding restaurant in this newly revitalized area of downtown and enjoy music in one of the longest-running concert series of the summer. Talented bands play fun tunes ranging from country to classic rock to swing. Prescott Promenade, Main St.: Fridays, through Sept. 28; 6 p.m.

La Mesa Sundays at 6
This series takes place in the park’s amphitheater; no need to bring your chairs if you arrive early! Lots of room for kids to run on grassy knolls and a playground with great equipment. Harry Griffen Park: Sundays, June 10- July 15; 6 p.m. No concert July 4th week.

Lemon Grove Summer Concert Series
Why not start the summer off with an Elvis Tribute Band? The city will host 8 summer shows at Berry Street Park. Come enjoy the park’s newly completed amphitheater. Thursdays, June 28-Aug. 16; 6:30 p.m.

Santee & Barona Summer Concert Series
This series features special events such as Blues & BBQ on July 12 and Wingstock on Aug. 9. Savor food from local restaurants and microbrews in the beer garden. The playing fields, bouncy house and games make this a kid-friendly event each week. Town Center Community Park East: Thursdays, June 14 – August 23, (No concert July 5) ; 6:30- 8 p.m.

photo: Coronado Summer Concert Series

South Bay

Chula Vista Summer Sundays
Chula Vista shows it really knows how to celebrate family with its super fun concerts that appeal to all ages. Sample bites from mall restaurants, send the kids to do a different craft, each week, dance to the music and explore classic cars. There’s a different car club featured each week. Eastlake Village Walk: Sundays, June 17 -July 22; 5 p.m.

Coronado Ferry Landing Weekend Concert Series
Enjoy San Diego like a tourist. Take the ferry and bask in a beautiful afternoon at Coronado’s Ferry Landing. Grab a patch of grass or sit on nearby benches to hear a wide variety of bands. Click here to see our recommendations for ideas on family-friendly dining and activities while in Coronado. Ferry Landing: Sat. & Sun., May 26- July 29; 2-5 p.m.

Coronado Summer Concert Series
Coronado takes pride in featuring many local bands and award-winning music you won’t find anywhere else in the city. Bring a picnic and join in this long-loved musical family tradition. Spreckels Park, Gazebo Bandstand: Sun., May 27-Sept 2; 6 p.m.

photo: Cherie Gough

Know Before You Go

Here are a few tips to streamline your concert-going experience:

  • Low back seats are preferred so that everyone can see the show.
  • Shows last two hours unless otherwise noted.
  • Many venues have food vendors, so you don’t have to bring elaborate picnic fixings.
  • Be sure to keep glass containers at home.
  • Check the website to see if alcohol is allowed at the venue.
  • Most concert venues do not allow pets.
  • Check the website before you go to find more details about the concert line-up and particulars.

–Cherie Gough

Where’s your favorite summer concert in San Diego? Share in the comments!

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