The Best Travel-Worthy Music Festivals You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Charles Thorp

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There are few summer activities with more potential for fun than an outdoor music festival. Warm weather, good beats, beautiful people — it’s a sure-fire recipe for a good time. The problem is when a really good festival comes around, word travels fast. That causes attendance to skyrocket year after year, leaving many of these events overcrowded. Suddenly, your blissful auditory escape has become a Mad Max-level fight for survival — throwing fists to score a food truck taco and collecting dewdrops off of discarded artist passes to quench your thirst.

Nobody said Coachella. Did you just think Coachella?

The good news is there are still a few gatherings that have managed to combine both immersive experiences and proper support facilities. Whether it’s because they’re well-kept secrets or just operated by pros, we don’t know. Nor do we care. The fact is that it’s unlikely they will remain this smoothly run forever, so you should probably check them out as soon as possible.

Not only have we listed them out for you here, but we’ve also set you up with some transportation and lodging advice. No excuses. This is the year to hit a lesser-known music fest.

Hangout Music Festival — Gulf Shores, Alabama

Dates: May 16 – 19, 2019

The Download: Hey, quick question. Do you happen to be a person who likes to hear epic guitar riffs while looking out onto a beautiful, turquoise sea? Yeah, we thought so. Hangout Music Fest has killer acts like Jimmy Eat World and Hozier and you listen to them all while you enjoy some beachside cocktails on the white-sand shores of the Gulf of Mexico.

It’s like all the best parts of spraaaaaaang breakkkkkk in one epic weekend.

The Arrangements: The closest airport is Pensacola International Airport, so there aren’t too many nonstop options, but the extra travel is worth it.

Boston Calling Festival — Boston, MA

Dates: May 24 – 26, 2019

The Download: This blast of a festival turns 10 this year and it’s celebrating with another amazing lineup featuring Travis Scott, Tame Impala, and Twenty One Pilots. There will also be a strong comedy presence lead by Michael Che, Jenny Slate, and Fred Armisen. Boston Calling is all around fun.

The Arrangements: Jetblue has reasonable and comfortable flights to Boston from most US cities. There are a number of great hotels in the area, but the writer of this article is a little biased towards The Charles Hotel… for obvious reasons.

Firefly Music Festival — Dover, DE

Dates: June 21 – 23, 2019

The Download: This festival is young, but it’s quickly becoming one of the best music events in the world. Held in the woods of Delaware, where you can catch a nap amongst the trees between sets, some of the biggest acts in popular music are playing this year, including Post Malone, Zedd, and Passion Pit.

The Arrangements: The closest airport is Philadelphia, from there you can either rent a car or there are shuttles available on the Firefly site. There are a lot of hotel options, but by far the coolest option is camping onsite. They have glamping experiences and pre-set tents available for those who just want to kick back.

Under The Big Sky Festival — Whitefish, Montana

Dates: July 13 – 24, 2019

The Download: The name says it all. Sip a beverage and listen to music under that big, vast, beautiful sky that Montana is famous for. This year, the Under The Big Sky Festival will bring out mainstays like Band Of Horses, Dwight Yoakam, and Jenny Lewis. Not to mention that an adventure in one of the most beautiful places in the world, Glacier National Park, is right down the road.

The Arrangements: Fly into Glacier Park International Airport and rent a car. You’re going to want to be able to drive around this enchanting American landscape.

Outside Lands Festival — San Francisco, CA

Dates: August 9 – 11, 2019

The Download: Nobody combines the enjoyment of music and food quite like the crew from Outside Lands does, and the Bay Area setting means nothing but the best eats. Picture yourself sipping a local beer or red wine while listening to Childish Gambino, The Lumineers, or blink-182, all with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Not only that but they have cool specialty programs like GastroMagic where comedians get paired up with chefs. This is what heaven looks like.

The Arrangements: Jetblue has reasonable and comfortable flights to San Francisco from most US cities. There are a number of amazing hotels to crash in the city, but for a relaxing and restoring stay consider Hotel Zetta.

Life Is Beautiful — Las Vegas, NV

Dates: September 20-22, 2019

The Download: Founded to revitalize this formerly dystopian downtown of a city, Life is Beautiful has quickly become one of the most compelling events of the year. The festival features the world’s biggest music acts alongside thought-leaders and culinary talents. It has the whole package. Expect to leave not only feeling fulfilled culturally but also inspired.

The Arrangements: There are a number of great flight options into Las Vegas’ McCarran Airport. The city is stocked with luxury hotels, but let us make a special recommendation for The Cosmopolitan, which has great food and unique nightlife.