I’ve lived here for almost five years and there are things I still have yet to do. Los Angeles is huge and you really can never run out of things to do, no matter where you live. When I first moved here, I did a lot of touristy type stuff. I did the hike up to the Hollywood sign, sampled the nightlife, and of course, indulged in the obligatory viewing of the stars on Hollywood Boulevard. However, it wasn’t until last week that I finally saw a show at the Hollywood Bowl.

After seeing a concert at the Rose Bowl last summer (Coldplay was awesome, the traffic and travel was not) I pretty much swore off big venue shows. I went in with little knowledge of the area and did no research about best practices of seeing a show there. So, it was kind of on me. Which is why I decided to write this blog about how to have a great Hollywood Bowl experience.

This is strictly advice from my first and only time at the Hollywood Bowl. I threw in a few tidbits from some friends and family but if you’re a seasoned Hollywood Bowl-er, I’d love to hear about how you do it.

“Dos” for the Perfect Hollywood Bowl Experience

Do: Pack a Picnic

This is arguably one of the best things about the Bowl. Not only can you bring your own food, depending on which show you are seeing you can also bring your own wine and beer (most of the events presented by the LA Phil allow wine or beer bottles). You can bring a picnic blanket and pack your own food to eat either before the show in one of the picnic areas or in your seats.

Tip: Try not to eat during the show. Opening packages/cans/bottles can be super rude and distracting. Come early and eat/drink before the show starts. Or, you know, be cool about it.

Do: Bring a sweater/jacket/blanket

Even if we are in the midst of an epic heat wave, it will get a little chilly at night. The Bowl is up on a hill so there is a slight breeze as it gets dark. Be sure to bring either a light sweater, jacket, or if you want to get real cozy bring a blanket.

Do: Get seats on the end of the aisle

If you are one of those people who needs to get up a lot for whatever reason (small children or an excessively small bladder), get a seat on the edge of a row. If you can’t get aisle seats (they sell out fast), just try to get seats as close to one end as possible. I had no idea going in so I ended up right smack in the middle of my row. Not everyone is going to give you a hard time about it but my neighbors were kind of grumpy.

Another perk of an aisle seat is that you won’t have to wait as long to leave.

Tip: There is a short intermission for most shows (15 minutes-ish). Most people will take this opportunity to use the bathroom. The lines are long but they move quickly.

Do: Check out the gift shop before the show

I actually didn’t get a chance to check out the gift shop. Regrets. It’s located right outside of the security gate and you are allowed to leave (just get a stamp so they will let you back in). If you come early, you should have some time to peruse before going through security. This is probably the best way, especially if you have kids. This way you can get all your shopping and such done before you settle into your seats.

The shop is open after some shows, so you can definitely go after if you would prefer. I would advise against it since there will be about 18,000 people trying to leave the Bowl to go home and you want to make the going home experience as seamless as possible.

“Don’ts” for a Perfect Tolerable Hollywood Bowl Experience

Don’t: Take an Uber home from the bowl

Long before I made plans to attend a show at the Hollywood Bowl, I heard stories about the traffic before and after shows. Much like Angelenos complain about the 405, you’ve probably overheard a conversation or two about getting to and from the Bowl.

I have a friend who lives right by the Bowl, and he said it’s a regular nightmare. I asked people who have been there before how they got to and from and most said they took the shuttle. Since I went on a Sunday night, I wanted to figure out the fastest and easiest way to get home. So, naturally, I thought of taking an Uber. Which actually worked out perfectly on the way there. On the way home, though? Terrible idea. If you take anything away from this blog post, remember to walk to and from the Hollywood and Highland station and take the red line to either Universal City Station or to North Hollywood Station. Never attempt to take any vehicle into the mess that is the Hollywood Bowl.

Tip: If you are super fancy and want to park in the Bowl parking lots, know that the parking is stacked. Oh and may the odds be ever in your favor.

Don’t: Wear heels or uncomfortable shoes

Going to the Hollywood Bowl is arguably one of the most fun places to go for a date in Los Angeles (among many, many others I assure you). However, you will want to choose your footwear very carefully. I would highly recommend wearing shoes that cover your feet with no heel. It’s all uphill walking and the bathrooms are pretty much at the bottom of the hill.

Tip: There is an escalator that you can ride if you’re not into “hiking.”

Don’t: Over pack

Much like any other stadium-type event, you will have to go through security. It’s pretty relaxed but they will make you open every bag you bring in and they will rifle through your stuff. They will ask  you to separate your electronics/keys/change to dispense in a dish. It’s pretty standard but the more prepared you are in advance, the quicker the line will move and the happier everyone will be.

Tip: Keep your phone/keys/change separate for quick and easy access. Don’t bring too much stuff if you can help it. Tote bags work better than backpacks in terms of accessibility.

I’m dying to know, how do you do the Hollywood Bowl? Share with us in the comments below.