Outside Lands 2015 Survival Guide


Today I was sitting on my couch eating chips and saw a clip on ultra-marathoners and all I could think was, yeah this is pretty intense but it’s nothing compared to three days of drinking and listening to music in a park. This weekend thousands will pour into Golden Gate Park for fun in the sun (fog), booze, food in compostable containers and some of today’s top music artists. Outside Lands is the real deal and only the strong will make it all the way to Elton John‘s set Sunday.

Getting to and from the park

Getting to the park usually isn’t too bad, but the car drop-off areas are near the entrances on Fulton and Lincoln tend to slow to a crawl. The easiest way to go is by bike, there are like 70 acres of bike racks there. If you are near a bus line or Muni line that goes West to the park, it’s also usually a good way to go, as they add extra buses and trains to keep up with the high demand. Team up with friends if you are taking Uber or Lyft because the surge rates tend to be steep. Also check out Flywheel (Disclosure I work for Flywheel) and Sidecar, which don’t do surge prices. Parking near the park is very limited, but I have friends who have gotten lucky in the past if you are willing to do a long walk.

Getting home from the park is a totally different story. You could of course try public transportation, or if your phone isn’t dead and gets signal you can try calling a car. Personally I think one of the great parts of Outside Lands is walking through the park after the shows – thousands of people high on life (and other things) walking together. It is also easier to catch a ride once the crowd dies down. Grab a drink at a local Richmond, Sunset or Haight bar and decompress from the festival.

What to bring

Early weather reports put the weekend at a beautiful 70 degrees every day. But if there’s one thing we all know about the West side of SF it’s that the fog can roll in at any point. Make sure that you don’t get stuck wearing your crop top when the temp drops 20 degrees in 10 minutes. Layers people. Bring sunscreen. Not trying to be your mom here, but you can still get sunburnt in the fog, especially if you are as pasty-Irish as me.

You can also save yourself a few bucks by bringing in food. Every year I see people talking about going to the park early to bury booze, but I’ve yet to see someone pull it off. The most creative way to sneak in booze I’ve seen is some girls who wrapped tall boys in lettuce, tortillas and tinfoil to look like burritos.

If you have a portable phone charger you may want it to get home after the festival. The cell service is terrible and your phone will die quickly if it is searching for signal all day. Also the bathrooms can go downhill really quick so you may want to grab some hand sanitizer and TP. If you are going to pee in the bushes please don’t do it directly uphill from people sitting at the Twin Peaks stage. Peeing in the bushes is also a great way to get kicked out, keep that in mind.

How to Prepare

Have a game plan. Sometimes it’s better to see your second option if it’s at a closer stage. A lot of times you will miss out on acts just due to travel time between sets. Twin Peaks and the Lands End stages don’t seem very far from each other on Friday but by Sunday you will get tired of the trek. Learn about the acts beforehand. Both Pandora and 8Tracks have playlists going for Outside Lands, maybe you will find your new favorite act.

You will lose all of the friends you came with and probably one item of clothing each day. It will happen fast, within the first half hour of entering the festival. Try to pick a spot and time to meet up if you separate, it will happen.

Here is the festival map for this year.

Other Tips

When walking from the Sutro or Lands End stages toward Twin Peaks make sure you take the path through the woods at least once. There is an intimate stage up there where huge acts like Jack White have been known to play sets. Also check out the food options and Choco Lands for those with a sweet tooth.

There are usually some healthy food options by the Panhandle Stage and the hay bales are a great place to catch up with friends. Last year Sierra Nevada had a small stage near the Panhandle at Beer Camp with quick mini shows. It was a great chance to get up close and personal with acts like The Brothers Comatose.

Have any tips to share? Drop them in the comments. See you all this weekend.