For a chilled-out evening of food, friends and live music, load your car with camp chairs, then hightail it to Interlochen, the teeny northern burg that’s home to the world-renowned Interlochen Arts Center (800-681-5920, Tickets to see the summer festival shows sell fast—past performers have included Bob Dylan, B.B. King and the Beach Boys. There are still tickets left for tonight’s performance by the legendary Kenny Rogers.

Tailgaters should be sure to get to Interlochen early—at least an hour and a half before showtime—to secure a spot in the grassy lot on M-37 across from Interlochen’s main entrance. For tailgate grub, stop into Earth & Hearth (2515 M-137, 231-276-9105, and choose from cold-cut subs and homemade pasties.

Takeout gourmet pizza from Giovanni’s Roadhouse (9205 U.S. 31, Interlochen, 231-276-6244, is also a delectable bet—each pie serves two, so order a few and go continent surfing with a Greek, a Cordon Bleu, a rustic Italian and a good ole American BBQ Chicken pizza.

As show time nears, grab a blanket or an extra jacket—the breeze off nearby Green Lake can be snappy after sunset. Meander across the street and trek through the trees to find the entranceway to the campus’ commons area, nicknamed The Mall. Soak up the artistic vibe of this 1,200-acre campus, where summertime signals the start of Interlochen Arts Camp. Students from 50 states and 40 countries—all dressed in powder-blue shirts and navy knickers—congregate outside. You can hear sounds of violins and concert pianos filtering from the rustic practice rooms while the crowd spills into Kresge Auditorium, Interlochen’s gorgeous 3,943-seat venue where the big-name acts perform.

Remember: No trip to Interlochen is complete without ordering a cool concoction from the school’s tasty-twist ice cream stand, Melody Freeze—the best way to end your musical evening on a perfect note.

Fun fact: Several Interlochen alumni were honored at the 2008 Grammy Awards. Among them? Singer Norah Jones (guest vocalist on Album of the Year), the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson (Best Classical Vocal Performance) and Evan A. Price (violinist with the Turtle Island Quartet, winner of Best Classical Crossover Album).