The Dos and Don'ts for a Perfect Outside Lands

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The coldest summer music festival in the world returns to San Francisco next weekend. Over 100,000 people will trample their way through Golden Gate Park’s polo fields for the 8th annual Outside Lands. And while the most important thing to do is wear the cutest outfit possible! enjoy the music, here’s a list of dos and don’ts to help you make the most of your weekend.

DO Wear Layers

Outside Lands is just like Coachella, if you replace blistering heat and shirtless bros with smothering fog and fully clothed tech bros. As is the case with any outdoor activity in San Francisco, it’s essential to wear layers. While you may get greeted by the sun upon arrival, odds are the fog will blanket the venue by 5pm, leaving hordes of confused out-of-towners wondering what month it is. Don’t be a confused tourist! Wear layers.

DON’T Party Too Hard and Miss Your Favorite Band

Many people like to party before they even get to Outside Lands. Others go too hard in the first few hours that they’re there. What all these people seem to forget is that the music doesn’t stop 'til around 10pm, so pace yourself, lest you black out during the headlining sets you paid good money to see.


DO Figure Out How You’re Getting Home

You can take Muni to Outside Lands and get there quickly, but good luck getting home. As thousands of haggard zombies make their way out of the park, mayhem ensues. Muni lines leaving the park will be packed, but here’s an idea: Take a less crowded bus toward the ocean instead. Eventually it will turn around and you’ll actually have a seat. Another option: Take the South exit out of the festival, even if you’re trying to go north. Lincoln always seems less crowded than Fulton, so try walking up to Judah to take the N, or if you’re lucky, score an Uber or Lyft (but watch out for ridiculous surge pricing).

DON'T Expect Perfection

Like most things in San Francisco, Outside Lands is far from perfect. But that’s okay, as long as you go in with the right expectations. In 2008, a train of fog nearly derailed Radiohead’s headlining set. And it’s pretty much a given that a few bands will arrive late, play truncated sets, or in some cases, not show up at all. The sound isn’t always great either, especially when you watch from the sides. But, if you plant yourself near a speaker, things should be alright.

DO Bring Water

You’re allowed to bring two factory-sealed water bottles (up to 1 liter each) through the gates. Save your money and spend it on better things, like…

Craft Beer!

Charging $10 for a Bud Light at a baseball game is larceny. Downing a nice craft beer while listening to great music is far more enjoyable. Over two dozen local breweries are represented at this year’s Beer Lands. You’ll pay as much for one beer as you would a six-pack from the store, but at least it’ll taste good.

DON’T Go With A Big Group

You will get lost. Hell, if you go with more than four people, you’ll likely get split up at some point during the day, only to realize your cellphones don’t really work, it’s suddenly 55 degrees out, and you left your jacket in Sarah’s backpack. It’s way more practical to go with a small group of close friends and meet up with people once you’re there, that way you can have a blast and not feel obligated to keep up with the pack.

DO Stumble Through McLaren Pass

Sort of in the middle of everything but also incredibly easy to miss, McLaren Pass is home to carnies, chocolate, and GastroMagic. The latter is an underrated stage where chefs and audience members interact in a bizarre medley of sights, smells, and food demos. Last year, Brenda’s French Soul Food offered free beignets to anyone who twerked. You can check out this year’s lineup here.

DON’T Bring A Selfie Stick

Just don’t. Technically they’re allowed, but that doesn’t mean you should have one.

DO Find The Shortest Porta Potty Lines

There are a lot of Porta Pottys at Outside Lands. There are also a lot of Porta Potty lines. Less trafficked bathroom spots include: The tree-covered Porta Pottys on your right, if you’re walking toward Twin Peaks Stage from Lands End Stage, and the ones tucked behind McLaren Pass if you’re headed toward Sutro Stage. Memorize all the tiny blue squares on this map. Your bladder will thank you later.

DON’T Endlessly Hop Between Stages

The dilemma: Two bands you’re dying to see are playing at the same time. Do you watch one for 20 minutes then walk over to the other stage to see the second artist finish? No, because walking between stages takes a while, and if Cara suddenly has to pee, or your best friend from middle school appears out of nowhere and starts petting you, it could take even longer. Outside Lands isn’t a contest. You’re not on Supermarket Sweep. So resist the urge to fill your proverbial shopping cart with as many bands as possible, and just relax and enjoy the show.