Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre could be the most beautiful venue on planet Earth.
One of the unexpected pleasures of living amid breathtaking scenery is that it makes an awesome backdrop for concerts. With top national acts and the gates open to bringing food and alcohol, music au naturel has become the best part of the summer entertainment scene.
Red Butte Garden Amphitheater
Tucked in a canyon adjacent to a mountainside arboretum, this could be the most beautiful place on planet Earth for a summer concert. (Ask David Byrne, Al Greene or Bonnie Raitt, all who said as much after walking on stage.) The amphitheater goes full-on spectacular as the sun sets crimson and alpenglow bathes the mountains above. Red Butteers pack blankets, snacks, sunhats and a couple bottles of wine to settle in for artists that have ranged from Bob Dylan to Mavis Staples.
This summer, David Byrne will be back, along with She & Him, Jackson Browne and The Shins. Tour the arboretum for free before the show. 300 Wakara Way, SLC, 801-585-0556, redbuttegarden.org
Twilight Concert Series
For an urban experience, stroll over to Pioneer Park (300 S. 300 West) Thursday nights for a high-energy music scene. Bands at Twilight (slcgov.com/arts) play to a younger, hipper audience with artists like Common and My Morning Jacket. Food, beer and hand-made crafts are available, and the park is surrounded with excellent restaurants for pre- and post-concert dining. Start the night with dinner at Tin Angel Cafe (365 W. 400 South, SLC, 801-328- 4155, thetinangel.com) or grab something from a food truck, like Chow Truck (chowtruck.com).
Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater
After the snow recedes, Deer Valley Resort's main slope blossoms as a fabulous outdoor concert scene with top artists and a lively crowd that blends summer tourists, Parkites and day-trippers from the valleys below. Concerts have included Joe Walsh and Earth, or chilled beef, artisan cheese, dessert and wine for a bit extra. 2250 Deer Valley Dr., Park City, 435-649-1000, deervalley.com
Right in the beating heart of downtown, you can find open-air music from country and bluegrass to hip-hop at what promoters like to call "Salt Lake's Living Room." If there isn't an evening concert scheduled, you'll usually find a movie, "lunch-bunch'' concerts or some sort of festival bubbling. 50 E. 200 South, SLC, 801-535-6110, thegallivancenter.com
Canyons and Snowbird Resorts
Canyons and Snowbird resorts offer laid-back outdoor concerts with nationally-known performers (Alejandro Escovedo isn't anything to sneeze at) that are also kid- and beer-friendly. The real draw: concerts are free. Canyons, Park City, 435-649-5400, canyonsresort.com; Snowbird, Little Cottonwood Canyon, 801-933-2222, snowbird.com
Stars Under the Stars
Here's a taste of what will be offered Utah alfresco.
DEER VALLEY/ST. REGIS
Big Stars, Bright Nights
July 4: Los Lobos. Los Lonely Boys and Alejandro Escovedo
July 15: Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers, Railroad Earth
August 17: Lyle Lovett and his Large Band
August 24: Jewel
July 5: Old Crow Medicine Show
July 14: Brandi Carlile
July 15: David Byrne & St. Vincent
July 17: Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion Radio Romance Tour
July 25: Dwight Yoakam
July 30: Merle Haggand
August 7: Steve Miller Band
August 20: John Prine
August 27: George Thorogood and the Destroyers and Buddy Guy
July 25: Flaming Lips
Aug. 8: Erykah Badu