Rabbits Black Guide to Outside Lands: San Francisco Edition

Published by Tiffany on

So you’re new to Outside Lands and you’re not sure how to navigate your way around the City. Even if you’re a San Francisco veteran, Outside Lands is a whole different beast. From grabbing the right bus and getting to Golden Gate Park efficiently, to continuing the party after 10 p.m., getting in and around San Francisco is not as straightforward as it usually is when Ranger Dave brings his acts to town. Rabbits Black has tips for you to avoid getting passed up by MUNI and escaping the tens of thousands of people pouring into the streets each night of Outside Lands.

Staying in San Francisco

If you don’t already have a place to crash or a hotel room, pickings may be slim in San Francisco. Unless you’re willing to shell out the big bucks, your best bet is to scour Airbnb for some shared rooms or available apartments. It’s short notice, but someone can probably accommodate you. And, when all else fails, there’s always Craigslist – you’d be surprised how many awesome friends you can make there.

If you’re flying into SFO, avoid the $45-60 cab fare to the City and hop on BART. Take the AirTrain rail to the BART transfer and hop on any train not headed to Millbrae. This will take you through Downtown San Francisco and over into the East Bay for less than $10.

Getting to Golden Gate Park

As Ranger Dave recommends every year, the best way to get to the Park is by foot, bike, or public transit. There are shuttle passes available that run directly from Civic Center to the Park, which will put you out $39 (plus the cost of getting to Civic Center). MUNI fares are $2.00 a ride, so the official shuttles come at somewhat of a premium.

As always, Outside Lands will be providing free bike valet, so take advantage of this if you’re on two wheels. If you need a place to rent a bike, try scamming Craigslist or check out one of the many vendors linked by Outside Lands.

If you’re planning on taking the bus, check out the MUNI maps to see which lines run closest to you and the park. The most common lines, which will drop you off within a few blocks of the Outside Lands entrance (it’s at 30th Avenue on the north side and 25th Avenue on the south side) are 1, 5, 28, 31, 71, and N-Judah. Remember, the busses will be heavily impacted by the Outside Lands crowd, so give yourself plenty of commute time. If you’re from LA, you’re already used to this concept, but the traffic is in the busses and not on the road.

As many Outside Lands attendees hail from LA, aka the land of little to no public transit, Rabbits Black has developed a game plan to help you (and as many of your fellow Outside Lands attendees) get to the park.

  • First and foremost: be a normal human being and interact with the bus driver and fellow passengers with manners. Be polite. Seriously. This means moving for commuting passengers to board and off-board, giving seats to your elders or those with a hard time standing, and not yelling at the bus drivers (there’s not much they can do to solve the shortage of busses).
  • Board the bus near the beginning of the bus line. The more bus stops the bus passes, the more festival-goers will cram on, and the fewer your chances of grabbing a highly coveted spot.
  • You’ll probably be separated from your group, so don’t hoard space to stay together. We’re all in the same game, so let’s get comfortable being in each other’s personal space for a bit while we try to get to the park safely.
  • Move to the back. All the way. And fill in as much space. Remember that personal space we discussed above? Forget it, and get to know your fellow bus rider.
  • Don’t stand on the bottom step of the back door as the doors are closing… because they won’t. Step up to the next step, and when the doors shut and the bus starts moving, you can step down again for a bit more space.

Although the official Outside Lands guide lists the major taxi providers in the City, chances are, you probably won’t be able to hail a cab from any 2 mile radius of the Park, which is pretty much half of the City. Fret not, dear reader. The world of on-demand personal driving is alive and thriving in San Francisco. For a pretty premium, you can hail an Uber town car. Be aware that surge pricing will be in effect, and last year, it cost about $120 to take a town car from the Park to the Mission, about a 5 mile ride. If you can grab a large car and cram a bunch of friends into one car to split the cost, it is probably worth it. Other options include Lyft, Flywheel, and Sidecar.

You’ve Landed: Outside Lands

You made it! You’re in the park, you cleared the lines, you have your schedule – now what? Rock to it.

If you’re planning on popping between many stages, keep in mind it can take up to 20 minutes to navigate through the crowd from Sutro to Twin Peaks. Check out the many wine, beer, and food vendors on your way, and remember that each stage has its own set of food and drinks to choose from. Lands End provides a nice straight line down to Panhandle on the way to Twin Peaks, while Sutro is a nice u-turn path from Lands End.

What sets Outside Lands apart from other world-renowned festivals is the sheer variety of awesome activities you can enjoy. More than almost any other festival, it behooves you to arrive early each day. Try listening to a new artist you haven’t heard before, and if they don’t tickle you, you can pop by the Barbary Tent for some solid laughs. If you’re overwhelmed by the stage crowds, we don’t blame you. Take a break at the Heineken dome for some of the best in new EMD artists, or just pop down with some food in the middle of the beautiful park and enjoy everything around you. The list of restaurateurs seems endless, and not one is a bad choice. The best part of the summer fog in the City is that you won’t be drained by the heat (other things, maybe, but not the heat).

The Music’s Over, But The Party’s Just Starting

You may have noticed that this year, all of the closers end at 9:55, which leaves you four hours before bars stop serving. If you’re not heading straight to a Night Show (which, really, you should), there are great bars to check out pretty much in every corner of the City. Chances are, you know how neighborhood-y the City is, and you’ll stick to something close to where you’re staying. You’ll still have a great time.

But if you’re looking for something new, perhaps on the way home, check out:

  • Underdog – 19th & Irving – great tacos, within walking distance of the Park on the south side exit. Grab a beer and some tacos while you wait for the bus line crowds to die out, and catch a later bus or cab once everyone has filtered through the area.
  • Magnolia’s – Haight & Masonic – this gastropub is packed to the brim on any given weekend, so you might have trouble grabbing a spot, but it can’t hurt trying. Hop on the 71 on Lincoln and 19th Avenue and head down to Haight Street where you can stop here and bar hop your way out.
  • Mad Dog In The Fog – Hight & Fillmore – ideally located in the Lower Haight, you can get here by hopping on the N-Judah line on the south side of the park and hopping off at Duboce & Church. If you’re weary of battling the crowds, you can back track to the higher 20’s or even 30th Avenue to get on the train to beat your fellow travelers to the bar. Like most neighborhoods, you’ll find plenty of bars in the surrounding Lower Haight.
  • Blackthorn – 10th & Irving – this Irish pub in the heart of the Inner Sunset is accessible by the same N-Judah train that will take you to the Lower Haight.
  • And, of course, bar-central Castro has more than its fair share of bars and clubs, and Valencia Street in the Mission will cater to the PBR-lover inside of you. This list could go on and on and on, but Yelp is your friend in the City.

Have fun, enjoy everything, and be safe. A lot can happen in this crazy and amazing 7×7 grid.


Bay Area manager of Rabbits Black. Originally from Southern California, now a decade-long resident of the Bay. You can find Tiffany frequenting the Bay's finest small venues and festivals. Contact Tiffany with any questions or requests you may have regarding Bay Area artist or event coverage.


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *