It used to be that you would have to travel to big cities to catch shows by the likes of the Eagles or Bruno Mars. But these days, whether your taste lean toward heavy metal, banda, or classic rock, it’s now possible to catch a concert by your favorite band or singer everywhere from the desert to Gold Country.
And a concert makes the perfect centerpiece for a one-stop getaway during which you spend the weekend at a hotel and take advantage of the outstanding dining, lavish swimming pools, and soothing spas that California’s casino resorts offer. Organized by region, here’s a collection of some leading performance spaces that draw major national and international touring acts.
Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, Cabazon Band of Mission Indians
No matter your musical preferences, the hits just keep coming at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio. Consider that within one recent two-week span, you could have caught shows by Bonnie Raitt, Sheryl Crow, and Tanya Tucker at the 3,700-seat special events center.
Icons including Beatle drummer Ringo Starr and Diana Ross have thrilled Fantasy Springs audiences, and the international headliners range from the Norteño sounds of Grammy-nominated Los Huracanes del Norte to Cantopop singer-songwriter Vivian Chow.
The Show, Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians
Make no mistake: The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa is a concert theater, not just a gussied-up ballroom or conference center. That was the message when this $76 million, 2,028-seat theater in Rancho Mirage opened with a concert by Billy Joel in 2009. Complete with 12 luxury boxes and suites, The Show offers excellent sightlines from all four levels (no seat is more than 125 feet from the stage). Past headliners have included Willie Nelson and multiple appearances by comedian Gabriel Iglesias, while Jerry Seinfeld and Mexican singer Yuridia both sold out the theater early in 2023.
Spotlight 29 Casino, Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians of California
The band America hasn’t just been through the desert on a horse with no name, they’ve played on this desert stage that pulls in big names. The casino’s indoor, 2,200-seat Spotlight Showroom has welcomed hard-rocking Vince Neil of Mötley Crüe and Venezuelan superstar and Latin Grammy Lifetime Award honoree José Luis Rodriguez (El Puma). A five-minute walk away, the 12,000-seat outdoor 12,000-seat outdoor Coachella Crossroads multiplex hosts performers such as Blake Shelton, Toby Keith, Snoop Dogg, and Lil’ Wayne, when it’s not being used as a soccer complex.
Samala Showroom, Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians
Maybe it’s the Chumash Casino Resort’s incredible setting in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley. But music’s leading stars love to come to the Santa Barbara wine country and play shows in the resort’s Samala Showroom. Over the years, an eclectic musical who’s-who of artists—including Merle Haggard, Stevie Wonder, Santana, and Bonnie Raitt—have taken the stage here. And with boxing and mixed martial arts also on the docket, the Chumash Casino Resort is a haven for sports fans.
Cache Creek Casino Resort, Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation
A recent $180 million expansion and renovation transformed Cache Creek Casino Resort in Yolo County’s Capay Valley into a real showstopper. The improvements include a new 1,400-seat Event Center, which is equipped with the latest in sound, video, and lighting technology. The venue draws an impressive and diverse line-up of performers, including recent concerts by Theresa Caputo, Amy Schumer, and Train.
Hard Rock Live, Rancheria Estom Yumeka Maidu Tribe
When Maroon 5 launched into their number one hit “Moves Like Jagger” during the inaugural show at Hard Rock Live in June 2022, lead singer Adam Levine and the globe-dominating band put tiny Wheatland (population 3,787) on the world music map.
The $58 million, 2,500-seat venue at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento at Fire Mountain is an impressive addition to the California music scene. The seats are all within 140 feet of the stage and boxes along the sides of the mezzanine give an opera-box perspective on the show. And a VIP salon called The Porch, an elevated section directly to the side of the stage, is like watching the show with a backstage pass.
Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino, Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians
Maybe you’ve traveled to Gold Country for a little R&R and to take in the glorious, star-filled night skies of the Sierra foothills. On many of those nights you’ll find stars of a different kind at Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino. That’s because this resort in the tiny town of Coarsegold hosts an impressive line-up of concerts that spans the full range of musical genres. Shows here have showcased reggae rapper Shaggy, Rodger Hodgson from Supertramp, and Dwight Yoakam, who draws much of his musical inspiration from California’s Bakersfield Sound.
The Venue at Thunder Valley, United Auburn Indian Community
What could be more fitting than the Eagles inaugurating a California hotel and casino’s spectacular new concert theater with a show featuring a full performance of the landmark album Hotel California? That’s how the The Venue at Thunder Valley marked its debut in February 2023. The 4,500-seat entertainment center located at Thunder Valley Casino Resort in Lincoln also hosted shows by Bruno Mars and Santana during its first weeks of operation.
Rivaling California’s very best concert locations and offering a far more intimate music experience than the kinds of sports arenas that bands like The Eagles typically play, the $100 million venue has a grand lobby with a soaring video wall and majestic staircase. The sightlines are absolutely perfect, as are the acoustics, thanks to an advanced, top-of-the-line sound system.
Morongo Casino Resort & Spa, Morongo Band of Mission Indians
Just off Interstate 10, about 90 miles from Los Angeles and barely 20 minutes from Palm Springs, Morongo Casino Resort & Spa is the perfect place to chill out by day with a spa treatment and then get down at night during a concert by some of the top acts in music.
East L.A.’s favorite sons, Los Lobos, have rocked out here, and the likes of Boyz II Men, Country Music Association Award–winner Carly Pearce, and funk legends George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic have all recently dazzled Morongo audiences.
Pechanga Resort Casino, Pechanga Band of Indians
With two major indoor venues—the elegant 1,200 seat Pechanga Theater and the 3,000-seat Pechanga Summit—Pechanga Resort Casino has brought plenty of entertainment and nightlife to Temecula wine country. With performers spanning cultures around the globe, Pechanga is notable for the diversity of its entertainment lineup. During one recent span, concerts here included shows by such icons as R&B singer Patti Labelle and eight-time Grammy and Latin Grammy winner Pepe Aguilar, as well as by Hong Kong singer-songwriter/Cantopop queen Ivana Wong and the Korean vocal quartet Forestella.
Yaamava’ Theater, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians
The Red Hot Chili Peppers got things rocking when they became the first band to take the stage at this spectacular venue in the Yaamava’ Resort & Casino at San Manuel, about 60 miles from Los Angeles in the Inland Empire. The intimate Yaamava’ Theater, with seating capacities ranging from 2,500-3,000, boasts the latest in concert technology, including an L-Acoustics K Series sound system and three large video walls. Treat yourself to a VIP suite, complete with dedicated drink service, and catch a show by the likes of Joan Jett & The Blackhearts and top-selling regional Mexican group La Banda MS de Sergio Lizárraga.
Harrah’s Resort Southern California, Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians
The first venue to launch the sharp and powerful L-Acoustics K-2 sound system, the 2,200-seat Events Center at Harrah’s Resort Southern California brings in a big range of musicians and comedians to the town of Funner in San Diego’s North County. The stage here boasts a diverse roster of past headliners: Trevor Noah and Amy Schumer, Snoop Dogg, and The Killers have all played here, truly making Funner the funnest place to be on the night of a show.
Heritage Event Center, Sycuan Band of Kumeyaay Indians
This 1,200-seat performance space at the Sycuan Casino Resort opened in 2019 as part of a $260 million expansion and features state-of-the-art audio-visual technology. The center in East San Diego County draws concertgoers from all over Southern California thanks to a varied calendar of shows featuring leading comedians (Chris Tucker and Paul Rodriguez) and an eclectic selection of musical performers.
Double-platinum country artist Mitchell Tenpenny headlined a powerhouse show opened by Tyler Braden, while in 2022 Iraqi singer Mohammed Al Salem and Lebanese performers Nawal El Zoghbi and Joseph Attieh played a concert of contemporary Middle Eastern pop at the center.
Pala Casino Spa Resort, Pala Band of Mission Indians
With both indoor and outdoor concert venues, Pala Casino Spa Resort in San Diego’s North County off Interstate 15 features daily live music performances and as many as 40 events per month. It’s no wonder the resort bills itself as “Southern California’s entertainment capital.”
The outdoor 2,251-seat Starlight Theater is the stage for a summer concert series, and performers from Tony Bennett to Chris Young have played there. Recent shows at the indoor Events Center (there’s both reserved and general admission seating) have starred Kenny Loggins, LeAnn Rimes, Trace Adkins, and Kool & the Gang. And the resort’s Center Bar features high-energy bands that span country, funk, rock, and more.
Viejas Casino & Resort, Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians
For more than 25 years, music lovers have flocked to Viejas Casino & Resort in Alpine, a quaint mountain town in San Diego’s East County. The resort’s outdoor Concerts in the Park series is the perfect way to spend yet another one of San Diego County’s perfect summer nights—whether you’re into Blue Öyster Cult or multi-platinum country singer Jimmie Allen. And the resort’s intimate Oak Ballroom is the place to catch the likes of Motown legends The Four Tops or get moving on the dance floor during the resort’s regular Latino Nights.
San Francisco Bay Area
Graton Resort & Casino, Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria
Just 50 miles north of San Francisco in Sonoma County, the Graton Resort & Casino makes for an easy music-centric getaway. Check to see if a favorite band or singer is playing at The Event, the resort’s concert venue, then plan a weekend of wine tasting by day in the nearby Sonoma Valley and music by night.
There’s classic rock (Styx and Jefferson Starship), plenty of comedy (Jim Jefferies and Cedric the Entertainer), country tunes (Martina McBride and Trace Adkins), and frequent UFC and boxing action for fight fans.