etc venue icon

5 Awesome Concert Venues off the Beaten Path (and Worth the Journey)

Adam M. Young | January 18, 2023
5 unique venues to see a concert.

Guest Post by Virginia Fay

A truly transcendent concert experience is just that — an experience that offers so much more than music alone. And for something like that, it’s worth going off the beaten path for a one-of-a-kind venue. Sometimes it’s an unexpected spot in the city center, or it might mean a road trip to a faraway destination. Read on for some hidden gems that are worth the drive.

Stone Mountain Arts Center — Brownfield, ME

Tucked into the foothills of the White Mountains in Maine, this timber-frame music hall gives new meaning to the word intimate. Wind down country roads until you come to the red clapboard building heralding your arrival to the Stone Mountain Arts Center. A concert here approaches a spiritual experience: The tall windows call church to mind, while fairy lights and the cozy size (only 200 seats) create a dream-like ambiance. Plus, you can dine in-house before a show, with rotating menu items like homemade pizza, shepherd’s pie and mac ‘n cheese.

Urban Artifact — Cincinnati, OH

Though it’s in a city, Urban Artifact is hardly your standard concert hall. Housed in an old church, it’s part live-music venue, part brewery — already a winning combination. You might overlook it from the street, as the facade is still that of historic St. Patrick’s church, complete with steeple and stained glass. But step inside, and you’ll find live bands nearly every night of the week and a taproom specializing in tart and wild ales.

The Gold Hill Inn — Gold Hill, CO

Originally settled as part of the gold rush, Gold Hill still offers little-known gems, like The Gold Hill Inn. A family-run restaurant, the venue has log cabin vibes that are accentuated by roaring fireplaces. The sleepy nature of the town belies the range of artists who perform, including an annual Christmas show by Gregory Alan Isakov (tickets go fast).

The Surf Ballroom — Clear Lake, IA

With deep roots in rock ‘n roll history, The Surf Ballroom remains a cultural icon. You won’t actually hear the pounding surf from this concert venue as the name suggests; rather, acts from country to big band to comedy take the stage surrounded by murals of swaying palm trees and ocean waves. The link between decor and name is clear: It was designed in 1934 to inspire the ambiance of an ocean beach club (no easy feat in Iowa). But, the lakeshore location and legacy of performers like Buddy Holly and Santana make this spot worth the drive.

Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace — Pioneertown, CA

Founded by a group of Hollywood investors who dreamed of creating a living moving set, Pioneertown was created as an 1870s frontier town. Today, Pappy & Harriet’s inhabits the cantina part of the one-time set, and serves organic meat and fish cooked to order on a mesquite grill before indie bands like City and Colour and Iron and Wine take the stage. There’s live music every night the venue is open, and many shows are free. Located in the Southern Californian desert, it’s easy to feel like you really have stepped out of time — and isn’t stepping into another world the best part of concerts?

Virginia Fay is travel blogger for Turo, a car sharing marketplace where local car owners provide travelers from all over the world the perfect vehicle for their next adventure.
Help Us Improve

We strive to provide error-free content but we're not perfect. If you notice an error or we left something important out of one of our posts, please let us know and we'll review for inclusion

If you have ideas for articles or categories we aren't currently providing, feel free to drop us a line.

Send Us Your Feedback

No Thanks