Wed. Dec 7th, 2022

Fans of live music and memorable venues should get ready to add another amphitheater to their bucketlists.

Opened in August of 2021, The Rady Shell in San Diego has quickly established itself as one of the country’s coolest concert venues thanks to its supreme design and location, unique private-public partnership, and celebrity chef driven food and beverage program.

A Mesmerizing Location and Unique Musical Performances

The location for the Rady Shell is a 3.7-acre public park called Jacobs Park, located adjacent to downtown San Diego along the bustling, waterfront Embarcadero.

Surrounded on all sides by water, the venue was developed, created, and funded by the San Diego Symphony, becoming the group’s first permanent outdoor venue in its history.

It showcases stunning scenery and coastal charm, with unabated views of San Diego Bay, Coronado, and the tall masts of sailboats swaying to the sea breeze in the nearby harbor.

The goal is to host about 100 shows a year, a mix of live music, movies, and other community events (see more below). This year’s lineup included everything from classical performances to nation-wide acts, like the Beach Boys, Sheryl Crow, Boyz II Men, Olivia Rodrigo, Leon Bridges, Norah Jones, and many others.

What makes the Rady Shell truly unique is that the Symphony performs along with many of the national acts, ensuring that the performances can’t be replicated and are like no other performed by the bands. Capacity for the venue fluctuates, going as high as 8,500 for large acts with an average seating of 4,700.

Community Park, Free Events, and “Movie Concerts”

Though the San Diego Symphony owns and operates the Rady Shell, the organization has made a commitment to maintain Jacobs Park as a community green space. That is, outside of ticketed events, the park remains open during daytime and evening hours for public use.

People can feel free to walk around and explore the venue, or use the green space for exercise. Typically, the Rady Shell organizes a free yoga class once a month, and in addition to live shows and events, the Rady Shell also hosts “movie concerts” in which the San Diego Symphony performs the live musical score for the film.

Past movie concerts have included Harry Potter, Toy Story, the Princess Bride, and Black Panther.

Open Sound Checks and Rehearsals

While many music venues are open to the public during certain hours (think running the stairs at Red Rocks), the Rady Shell sweetens the deal by keeping the venue open for sound checks and rehearsals as well.

Regardless of whether you have a ticket for the night’s show or not, you can show up sometime in the mid-morning and walk right to the front row to catch acts like the Beach Boys or Sheryl Crow running through rehearsal.

Celebrity Chef Food & Drink Program

Topping off the exclusive offerings at the Rady Shell is the food and drink program, known as the Shell Provisions. In back of the seating area, you’ll find a local food court with a range of vendors, including tacos from Lola55 and wood-fire pizza from BIGA, among others.

The Rady Shell also offers two other dinner options that are spearheaded by Celebrity Chef Richard Blais (Top Chef). If your ticket is in the Marina or San Diego Rows, you can arrive early to have a seated, served dinner. Other sections can pre-order a picnic box to enjoy prior to the show. More details are available at the Shell Provisions link above.

Nearby San Diego Attractions

The cherry on top of all the Rady Shell’s offerings is its proximity to downtown San Diego and its various attractions.

Visitors can find hotels nearby within walking distance, such as the Hilton Bayfront San Diego, as well as pre-show drink and dining options like Hudson & Nash, which serves dishes representing different parts of California.

Just a ten minute walk from the venue (or quicker by pedicab) is the infamous Gaslamp Quarter, riddled with bars and restaurants and sure to be open after the show, regardless of the day.

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