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Romance Under the Summer Stars: Your Guide to the USA’s Best Outdoor Orchestra Concerts

Summer has the power to make us spend entire days outdoors. We’ve been hiking, biking, and walking more than ever, and loving every minute of it. But the outdoor fun doesn’t have to end when the sun goes down. There’s nothing more romantic than a warm summer night—and this summer, we’re determined to thoroughly enjoy all of them.

This is why we’ve compiled this list of America’s best places to enjoy an outdoor summer symphony. Break out your picnic basket, a blanket, and a bottle of wine, and reconnect with someone special while listening to the classics and dancing the night away. Whether close to home or across the country, any of these concert series would make for a memorable centrepiece to a weekend getaway.

East

What: Boston Symphony Orchestra
Where: Tanglewood, MA
When: June 27–August 31
More Info: bso.org
Why go: For the beautiful Berkshires location and truly world-class musicians

What: Philadelphia Orchestra
Where: Philadelphia, PA
When: June 26–August 1
More Info: manncenter.org
Why go: Orchestral takes on unconventional musical works—this summer’s schedule features music from West Side Story and Star Trek.

What: Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra
Where: Providence, Narragansett, Bristol & Pawtucket
When: July 4–September 13
More Info: ri-philharmonic.org
Why go: For the chance to explore four pretty New England towns during the day and then settle in with some free music come evening.


 

Midwest

What: Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra
Where: Madison, WI
When: June 25–July 30
More Info: wcoconcerts.org
Why go: Concerts are held on the lawn of Wisconsin’s beautiful state capitol building, and a wine and cheese shop is conveniently located right next door for any last-minute picnic purchases. Plus, admission is free.

What: Grant Park Music Festival
Where: Chicago, IL
When: June 11–August 15
More Info: grantparkmusicfestival.com
Why go: This series is held in Millennium Park’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion, a spectacular open-air structure designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry and located in Chicago’s vibrant downtown. Free admission.

What: Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra
Where: Cedar Lake, Griffith, Crown Point, Hammond & Schererville
When: July 19–August 9
More Info: nwisymphony.org
Why go: It’s the perfect excuse to get out of the urban center of Chicago and into the pretty, lake-dotted Midwestern countryside. Free admission.


 

West

What: Portland Symphony
Where: Portland, OR
When: July 26–August 10
More Info: portlandfestivalsymphony.org
Why go: This concert series bounces between five Portland parks, including Cathedral Park, a scenic spot on the Willamette River below the cathedral-like arches of the St. John’s Bridge, built in 1931. Free admission.

What: San Francisco Symphony
Where: San Francisco, CA
When: July 2–August 1
More Info: sfsymphony.org
Why go: With a quirky line-up that features ABBA and Grease alongside Gershwin and Beethoven, this summer series doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s just what we’d expect from a symphony based in San Fran.

What: Sun Valley Summer Symphony
Where: Sun Valley, ID
When: July 28–August 19
More Info: svsummersymphony.org
Why go: With a concert scheduled nearly every day for a month, this series makes it easy to work some Tchaikovsky into your travel plans. And the green mountains and cool summer evenings of this Idaho ski town seal the deal.

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