The Hollywood Bowl is one of the most iconic amphitheaters in Los Angeles. 2022 marks the 100th anniversary of the bowl. While the bandshell structure that covers the stage can resemble a bowl, the name actually refers to the shape of the concave hillside that the amphitheater is carved into. There are some Angelenos who don’t visit the bowl because they don’t want to deal with the traffic and parking. My hope is that through this blog post and accompanying podcast episode you will be inspired to make the Hollywood Bowl part of your summer traditions.
This post contains affiliate links. That means if you click on a link and buy something, I will earn a small commission from the advertiser at no additional cost to you.
I discussed the Hollywood Bowl for an episode of the LA Dreaming Podcast. My guest was my Mom, Bonnie Mink, with whom I have enjoyed a few different events at the bowl. We share experiences and tips to help get you the most out of your visit.
The Hollywood Bowl
There are so many things that make the Hollywood Bowl a special venue. Not only has it been named one of the top ten live music venues in the country, but it is also a public park. Before the pandemic, you could visit the bowl during the day and enjoy a picnic while listening to the rehearsal of the LA philharmonic. For now, as I understand you can visit on Saturday mornings if you would like to climb the stairs for a workout. If you would like to call to see if they are opening up any rehearsals to the public you can use 323 850 2000.
I love that from this venue you can see the Hollywood sign depending on where you are sitting/standing. If you have time before your visit it can be fun to drive to the Hollywood Bowl overlook on Mullholland Drive. If you are coming for a bowl be sure to grab photos of the sign at the bottom of the hill before you enter the venue, after the show, it will be too crowded for a photo.
One of the best-hidden gems here is the Hollywood Bowl Museum which is free to visit. Inside the museum, you can see vintage photos, sound equipment, memorabilia, artifacts about the history of the bowl, and the performances that took place there. The museum also includes the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame which includes honorees like Frank Sinatra, George Harrison, Stevie Wonder & Brian Wilson. I am hoping that the museum will open up for the 2022 season. When the museum is closed visitors can walk through “the bowl walk” which features historical photos of the bowl.
Hollywood Bowl Tickets
I love the variety of events that take place here. In addition to being the summer home for the LA philharmonic, you can see great artists in concert, watch movies while the orchestra plays along, and attend a Sound of Music sing-along as well as other special events. Before you purchase tickets to events it is good to know what type of seat is the best choice for you. You can choose between the pool circle, box seats, super seats, and bench seats. If you are attending an event with fireworks you might not want to be in a box and you’ll need to move further back to get a better view of the display.
I have been here for concerts to see bands like Fleetwood Mac, and I’ve attended a sing-along for both Grease and the Sound of Music. You can read about my experience at the Sound of Music sing-along here.
Sometimes you can find good deals on Goldstar for Hollywood Bowl events.
View this post on Instagram
For the fourth, I went to a firework show which included music from the LA Philharmonic as well as a concert with Kool & Gang, what a great way to spend the fourth.
View this post on Instagram
And another annual event that is incredible to experience is Maestro of the Movies with John Williams.
Pool Circle Seats
These seats are named the pool circle seats due to the fact that until 1972 there was a pool in that area. For some events folding chairs are brought to this area, for others they are turned into boxes.
Garden Boxes & Terrace Boxes
Each box has four to six collapsible chairs. Please note that unless you have a large enough group you will be sharing a box with strangers. Every box will get a table to enjoy a picnic on before the event. During the show, the table will be removed so that the chairs can be rearranged so everyone gets a good view.
These seats are individual padded seats with a seatback. The super seats are what many would argue to be the most comfortable seats at the bowl.
I have only sat in the bench seats so far as the boxes and super seats sell out very quickly. While the bench seating isn’t the best, the prices cannot be beaten. Considering how great the events at this venue are, the prices are fairly reasonable (before all the Ticketmaster fees). If you want to make the bench seats better you can bring your own cushions or rent them on site for $1. Pro-tip, get a cushion for your bottom and your back.
Hollywood Bowl Parking
Parking at the Hollywood Bowl is a mistake that you won’t make more than once, but I want to encourage you to never do it, to begin with. It is stacked parking which means that unless you’re first in the row you have to wait for all the cars ahead of you to leave. This can lead to a long and unpleasant wait. Even the parking lots across the street are jammed packed and don’t make for a pleasant experience. Luckily, you do have a lot of options.
You can take the metro to Hollywood & Highland and then pay a few dollars to ride a shuttle from the mall to the bowl. You can park at H&H and walk to the bowl, or take the shuttle as well. I’ve even gotten free street parking by Hollywood High School and walked from there but it is a long walk.
My favorite way to get to & from the bowl is the park and ride shuttles. The shuttles have a variety of pick-up spots all over town and for $7 roundtrip will take you from a designated parking lot directly to the entrance. If you want a picture by the Hollywood Bowl sign you might have to backtrack down the hill depending on where your shuttle drops you off at. Be sure to pay attention to the number of your shuttle so you don’t miss it after the show. You can also use a rideshare service but the park and ride cost cannot be beaten.
Hollywood Bowl Tips
For LA Philharmonic events you can not only bring your own food, but you can bring drinks with you as well. A lot of people love getting to bring their own wine. For other events please be sure to check the website for an updated list of what will be allowed as certain food & drinks are not allowed at the non-philharmonic events.
There are size restrictions for coolers & picnic baskets. Normally, it has to be 15×15 or smaller, I have one with wheels that I got on Amazon that I loved. It didn’t fit under the bench seats as easily as I hoped but we made it work. If I was in a box I would absolutely have a picnic from my seat. If you’re in super seats or bench seats you might want to use the tables at any of the 14 picnic locations on site.
I love my picnic cooler that I’m pictured with which you can find here on Amazon.
Bring jackets & blankets as it gets cold once the sun goes down.
Keep an eye out for ways to win tickets through local radion stations like 104.3 myfm, Kost 103.5, and KIIS 102.7.
Aisle seats as well as seats on the left side tend to make for the easiest exit.