6 chill US music festivals that are worth traveling for this summer


If you’re the sort of music fan who is happier watching the Coachella livestream on your couch than navigating the crowds, then you may be wondering how to enjoy the magic of live music without quite so many people.

Although behemoth music festivals ⁠can deliver marquee moments, it can be easy to get lost in their sheer size. Often, the best music experiences happen in intimate settings or unique locations ⁠– and the US has these in abundance. 

If you’re looking to plan a festival trip that will take you away from the chaos, here are some chill music festivals all over the USA. 

Festivalgoers party in foam at a music festival.
Hangout is the perfect beachside music festival © Matt Cowan / Getty Images for Hangout Music Festival

Hangout, Gulf Shores, Alabama 

May 17–19, 2024
Attendance: 40,000

Although Hangout comes in toward the larger side, the beachside oasis offers a late-spring-break vibe that can’t be overlooked. May in Alabama’s Gulf Shores usually brings temperate weather conditions and an unmatched setting for relaxing — and hearing some great music. 

Let your feet sink into the sand while taking in the scene and playing a pickup volleyball match. You can overlook the entire site from the Ferris wheel or while paragliding along the water. The poolside hang at the main stage requires a VIP ticket, while the Thursday-night kickoff party usually features some of the weekend’s biggest upcoming acts performing special preview sets. 

What’s the lineup? Headliners for 2024 include Lana Del Rey, Odesza and Zach Bryan, along with performances from the Chainsmokers, NLE Choppa and Reneé Rapp among many others performing across five stages.

Crowds of music lovers with their arms in the air as they enjoy a live performance on a sunny day in woodland
Party with your “Forest Family” in the woods at Rothbury’s Electric Forest Festival © Jeff Kravitz / Getty Images

Electric Forest, Rothbury, Michigan

June 20–23, 2024
Attendance: 40,000 campers

Every year, around 40,000 like-minded humans known as the “Forest Family” gather among the trees of Sherwood Forest in Rothbury, Michigan, to bask in the charged glow of Electric Forest.

This ethereal woodsy gathering promises an immersive experience: fans can suggest art activations, projects and collaborations during the festival. The Wish Machine allows attendees to earn their pass by doing charitable deeds. There’s even an official sticker design contest. 

What’s the lineup? Headliners include Everything Always: Dom Dolla and John Summit, Pretty Lights, Subtronics and Excision with “*2 incidents*” from the String Cheese Incident. Away from the stages, there are art installations, a silent disco and yoga classes.

People gather at a music festival stage in front of beautiful mountains.
Dress for all weather at Colorado’s Telluride Bluegrass Festival © Benko Photographics

Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Colorado 

June 20–23, 2024
Attendance: 50,000

Celebrating in the mountains of southwestern Colorado, one of the most scenic and storied festivals in America that offers a chance to “dance under the solstice sun and embrace your truest self.” 

What’s the lineup? Performers this year will include Sistastrings, Chris Thile and Billy Strings, the Po’ Ramblin’ Boys, the Fretliners, the Sensational Barnes Brothers, and many more. NightGrass after shows take place in venues throughout the town of Telluride. 

Levitate Festival, Marshfield, Massachusetts

July 5–7, 2024
Attendance: 20,000 

Founded initially as a surf and skate shop, Levitate has evolved over 20 years to host a full-fledged music festival in Massachusetts, now celebrating its 11th year. Camping is available if you want to settle in for the whole program.

Taking place at the historic Marshfield Fairgrounds, this grassroots fest is packed with more than 30 food trucks, live experimental art and vendors. Its relaxed and creative setting makes it an ideal choice for families. You can even go whale watching afterward. 

What’s the lineup? Headliners this year include Lake Street Dive, Mt Joy and Sublime, with performances from Tash Sultana, Dirty Heads, Oliver Anthony and many more.

A man crowd surfs at the Pitchfork Music Festival.
Chicago’s Pitchfork Music Festival always delivers a top lineup © Joshua Mellin / Lonely Planet 

Pitchfork Music Festival, Chicago, Illinois 

July 19–21, 2024
Attendance: 60,000

The Second City’s second festival, Pitchfork boasts tomorrow’s Lollapalooza headliners today, always delivering a unique lineup. This tightly curated festival has always found a way to deliver even as the booking circuit has become more competitive over the last decade.

Taking place in Union Park, just a few stops west on the El from Lollapalooza’s Grant Park, the festival hosts its own record fair, as well as the touring rock poster festival Flatstock, with dozens of designers vying for your wall space with a wide variety of screen prints. 

What’s the lineup? Headliners include Black Pumas, Carly Rae Jepsen, Jai Paul, Jessie Ware and Alanis Morissette, with performances from Grand Masterflash, De La Soul, and Chicago-based experimental hip-hop duo, Angry Blackmen.

A young girl dances in front of a crowd at the Newport Folk Festival.
Some of the acts at Newport Folk Festival remain secret until the weekend © Joshua Mellin / Lonely Planet 

Newport Folk Festival, Newport, Rhode Island 

July 26–28, 2024
Attendance: 10,000

Simply put, the Newport Folk Festival is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, something every festival-goer should endeavor to be a part of at least once. The legendary festival has been around since the 1950s and is now held in Fort Adams State Park in historic Newport, Rhode Island. Tickets generally sell out long before the lineup is announced, as they have this year, though you can join the waitlist.

What’s the lineup? With the folk family in charge, you can trust that the lineup is always incredible. For the last few years, the festival has used a slow-rolling lineup announcement, with artists self-confirming appearances, many remaining secret until the weekend. Acts that have been announced so far include Billy Bragg, Dropkick Murphys, and Killer Mike, with poetry readings by Joan Baez. One thing that’s for sure this year, and every year, is that you should have a drink of Del’s frozen lemonade and a nap in the grass.

This article was first published Apr 24, 2023 and updated May 17, 2024.



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