The 650’s Insider Guide to Outside Lands: closest bars, nearby ramen and where to park

Info for Peninsula concert goers on how to navigate the area around the festival, from the best dry glazed chicken wings to where to see the albino alligator.

Now in its 12th year, Outside Lands expects more than 200,000 attendees over three days this weekend in Golden Gate Park. (Photo by Charles Russo)

The Bay Area’s biggest music festival kicks off this weekend in the western reaches of Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Now in its twelfth year, the annual summer concert is bigger than ever, with a lengthy list of marquee music talent and amazing eats from a sizable cross section of the city’s top restaurants.

We’re not worried about you on the inside of the festival, so we’ll abstain from telling you which bands to see and what to eat (just make sure to try the deep fried mac and cheese balls). Instead, we’ve calibrated this guide for Peninsula residents to better navigate the festival, so you can get there, get fed, get drinks and stay warm. Take a look…

Clockwise from top left: M.I.A., still pissed the Beastie Boys got replaced by Tenacious D; Wolfmother’s Andrew Stockdale raises the energy level in 2010; not to be out done, Gogol Bordello’s Eugene Hütz elevates the action on the main stage earlier that same day. (Photos by Charles Russo)

Summer Music Festival…in Fogust? (What to Wear)

First things first: when it comes to the weather, Outside Lands is NOT Coachella. The section of San Francisco where the festival takes place is an unforgiving vortex of epic fog and cold ocean wind during the month of August (or, as the locals call it— “Fogust”). So don’t be deceived by the sunny weather elsewhere—whether that’s at your home in Palo Alto or just six blocks east of the festival. Yes, Outside Lands has had some sunny days in the past, but the Vegas odds are clearly in favor of dense cold weather (to the tune of about 1 sunny festival day for every 3 foggy ones).

So as a general rule, bring layers, especially a hooded sweatshirt.

Few and far between: 2009 was the rare year that was sunny and hot for two of the three days at Outside Lands. (Photo by Charles Russo)

In addition, be prepared to walk. The festival grounds spread out to the better part of a half mile from one end of the festival to the other (the Twin Peaks stage to the east and the Main Stage further west) which you are likely to traverse numerous times (with some of the attractions, such as ChocoLand, in more heavily wooded areas of the park.)

Long story short—leave the cute skimpy Coachella outfit home and dress like you’re going on an autumn hike.

From left: Matt Berninger of the National and Cat Power center stage. (Photos by Charles Russo)

Fury Road (How to Get There)

For a festival that takes place in a huge public park within a residential part of the city, Outside Lands can be strangely hard to get to: public transportation fills up quickly on any give route while ride shares can be tough (and very expensive) to get. As a result, even local residents have struggled with the best way to get the festival over the years.

—Driving: The main issue with driving to Outside Lands is parking. The city is pretty heavy-handed when it comes to ticketing and towing, and the fees are sizable (retrieving a towed car in SF starts at about $500 and then goes up in price every hour you don’t claim it).

The park itself is pretty much completely shut off to cars during the festival, so don’t even bother. The surrounding neighborhoods are your best bet. Parking residentially a few blocks south of the park (along Kirkham, Lawton, Moraga, Noriega etc…) still requires walking a ways to enter the festival but is not a bad option. Remember to read all street signs when you park and do not encroach on any driveways. (Outside Lands has local tow truck phone numbers posted on their site for trigger happy residents, so be aware.) As a general rule, parking is available to south relative to what time you arrive and how far you are willing to walk.

There really are no parking garages in the neighborhood around Golden Gate Park, though makeshift festival arrangements do pop up around the neighborhood.

Map of Golden Gate Park, with the Outside Lands Festival area highlighted in orange. The Fulton #5 bus line is highlighted in blue on the north side of the park, while the N Judah is to the south in red. There are far more options for food, drinks and whatever else you need on the south side of the Golden Gate Park. (Image via SF Municipal Transportation Agency)

—Caltrain and Public Transport: If you’re traveling up from the Peninsula, Caltrain is a great option for getting to the city, but unfortunately leaves you very far on the wrong side of town. The good news is that you’ll be the first to get on the buses and trains from downtown to the festival (which pack out quickly and often bypass waiting commuters along the way on account of being full). The city will be running a high volume of both the Fulton bus(#5) and the N Judah train, which will leave you very close to the edge of Golden Gate Park. (Of the two, the N Judah is a better option and leaves you in a neighborhood on the south side of the park full of restaurants, bars and grocery stores.)

—Bike: Yes, for many years biking has been the best option for quickly getting to Outside Lands, though the festival has increasingly formalized the process of locking your bike up in an official valet lot within the park, which can become a time consuming wait of its own. Overall, biking is still one of the speedier options, not only for arriving, but especially for departing.

—Walking: San Francisco is only 7 square miles, so depending on where you are, simply walking to Outside Lands is really one of the easiest and most festive options. In fact, there is a general migration of concert goers on foot that moves through the city from around Divisadero Avenue westward through the park.

—Getting home: Starting around 8pm each night, the roughly 70,000 daily concert goers begin to depart the festival. Buses are packed, Uber’s are impossible and everyone pretty much ends up walking west. It’s a great time to go see the light show at the Hall of Flowers or dip into one of the local bars (see below).

Portugal the Man, feeling it since 1966 (well, since 2009 on this one). (Photo by Charles Russo)

Welcome to Ramen Town (Where to Eat)

The neighborhood south of Golden Gate Park along Judah Avenue is not only full of a variety of restaurants, but includes some of the very best in the city. In case you need to grab a quick (or leisurely) bite before or after the festival, here are some of the most notable spots (all within walking distance of the concert):

—Izakaya Sozai: Arguably one of the best ramen joints in SF, featuring an amazingly eclectic menu of Japanese food. Be aware though, their small space fills up fast and it’s rare to not see a wait out front. (Still worth it though.) 1500 Irving St (at 16th), 415-742–5122

—San Tung: A bit of an institution when it comes to Chinese food in the neighborhood, famous for its dry glazed chicken wings. There is always a wait at San Tung, but if you’re savvy you can call in a couple of orders of wings and just keep it moving. 1031 Irving St (at 12th), 415-242–0828

— Park Gyros: Right on the edge of the park, grab a falafel wrap and go. (Their fries are really good too.) // 1201 9th Ave (at Lincoln), 415–731–0400

— Saiwaii Ramen: Top notch ramen joint with good sushi in a lively setting (and close walking distance to the festival). 2240 Irving St, (415) 665–7888

— Irving Subs: Great hole-in-the-wall sandwich joint with big meaty sandwiches and a great list of vegetarian options to match. Quick and easy. 1298 12th Avenue (at Irving), 415–566–3155

The Mars Volta, appropriately on the Twins Peak stage. (Photo by Charles Russo)

— Marnee Thai: Possibly the best Thai food in SF. Their deep fried crispy tofu is a must (even if tofu isn’t your thing). There are two locations within the Inner Sunset, but for the full experience — 23rd Street is the one to seek out. 2225 Irving St (at 23rd) 415–665–9500

—Snowbird Coffee: Top notch coffee for a long day of walking in the fog. (Try their Brevano, a cortado with wild honey!)1352 9th Ave (at Irving), 415-573–7740

—La Fonda: This side of town isn’t really known for its taquerias, so don’t expect La Fonda to match up to its Mission District cousins, but if you need a quick veggie burrito (or a chicken torta) before the festival, it’ll do the trick. 712 Irving St (at 8th Ave), 415-681–9205

—Toyose: The coolest late night restaurant in San Francisco is this Korean joint located in a garage by the ocean. Expect crowds. (Not within walking distance of the festival). 3814 Noriega St (at 45th), 415-731–0232

Andronico’s Market: A one-stop-shop supermarket within quick walking distance of the festival. They have an sizable selection of beer, wine and hard alcohol as well as great sandwiches in the deli and cheaply priced snacks. 1200 Irving St (at Funston—aka 13th Ave), 415-661–3220

From left: The Dead Weather’s Alison Mosshart ponders their amazingly appropriate Outside Lands band name, while Q-Tip plays the Tribe hits back in 2009. (Photos by Charles Russo)

Liquid Swords (Where to Drink/Buy Booze)

If you haven’t already buried your booze within Golden Gate Park, well, it’s just too late now. That said, there’s no shortage of corner markets between 9th and 23rd Avenue along Irving, if you’re in need of something portable.

When it comes to bars in the neighborhood, it’s all a bit sports bar-y around the Inner Sunset (especially 9th Ave), but still viable for pre-/post-festival libations:

—Durty Nelly’s: The closest bar to Outside Lands is this cozy Irish joint with a fireplace in the back. (Try not to upset the locals.) 2328 Irving St (at 24th) 415-664–2555

—Silver Spur: An old school dive that opens at 6am (you know, in case you arrive for the concert early). 1914 Irving St (at 20th), 415-564–4250

—Fireside Bar: Cool local bar with dim lighting, cozy couches and heavy pours (definitely our favorite spot for good drinks around 9th and Irving). 603 Irving St (at 8th) 415-731–6433

Jack White played a surprise show at Outside Lands in the woods, back in 2012. (Photo by Charles Russo)

—Little Shamrock: One of the oldest bars in SF, right on the park at 9th Ave. 807 Lincoln Way, (415) 661–0060

—Beach Chalet: At the western of the park overlooking the ocean, the Beach Chalet has a full bar with in-house brews and a sizable menu in a historic building. Can get very overblown and touristy on weekends, but still worthwhile if you navigate it right. Not open late. 1000 Great Hwy, (at the Western Edge of the Park between Fulton and Lincoln), 415-386–8439

—White Cap: If you have a bit mobility, White Cap is worth the quick drive out to the ocean for a well-crafted cocktail and far less ESPN atmosphere. 3608 Taraval (at 46th) 415-682–4215

—The Riptide: Classic old school surfer joint near the beach (and across from White Cap) that teeters between laid back and/or rowdy depending on when you catch it. 3639 Taraval (at 46th), 415-681–8433

The Dutch Windmill in Golden Gate Park while spring tulips are in full bloom. (Photo by Charles Russo)

Don’t Forget to visit the Buffalo! (or the Windmills)

All issues of crushing fog aside, Outside Lands occurs in one of the most scenic sections of Golden Gate Park. Take the time to check out some of the sights on your way to and from the festival.

—The Buffalo Paddock: Golden Gate Park is home to a small gang (or obstinancy, if you will) of American biston, located just to the Northwest of the festival along JFK (near about 39th Ave).

—Claude the Albino Alligator: The Academy of Sciences has no shortage of great attractions, but none as special as Claude, their 23 year-old albino alligator. Admission to the Academy is a bit pricey, but well worth it if you’ve never been. (Along the Music Concourse in Golden Gate Park, between JFK and MLK Drives near 9th Ave).

Post-festival light show at the Conservatory of Flowers. (Photo by Charles Russo)

— Conservatory of Flowers: Gorgeous at any time of year (and well worth the $5 admission to check out the tropical wonderland inside), the Conservatory is currently hosting one of the best spectacles in the city right now with their evening light show projected onto its exterior. Bring a blanket and just hangout. 100 John F Kennedy Dr (near Fulton and 2nd Ave).

—Golden Gate Park Windmills: Dating back to 1902, two full-size and very picturesque windmills face the ocean at the western end of the park, ideal for mixing it up on Instagram for the weekend. (At the end of the park along the Great Highway.)

Ween, with Ween fans. (Photos by Charles Russo)

Links and Info

Caltrain Schedule

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Schedule and Info

For more official festival info click here

Festival Hours:
Festival Gates Open — 11:00AM
Music Starts — 12:00PM
Music Ends — 10:00PM (9.40PM on Sunday)

Stay up to date with other coverage from The Six Fifty by subscribing to our weekly newsletter, featuring event listings, reviews and articles showcasing the best that the Peninsula has to offer. Sign up here!

More from The Six Fifty:

TheSixFifty logo

THE SIX FIFTY staff

Sometimes our work is a collaborative effort, hence the "staff" byline. The best of what to eat, see and do on the SF Peninsula.

You May Also Like

San Francisco Peninsula beach pollution has worsened, perplexing locals.

The mysterious case of the SF Peninsula’s poop-polluted beaches

Prohibition rum runners and deadly shipwrecks: Pescadero’s Pigeon Point Lighthouse turns 150

Growing up: How vertical plantscapes are bringing the outdoors inside

Films return to Menlo Park’s Guild Theatre with the Doc5 Festival