There's something about eating and drinking outdoors that makes everything taste a little better, and the time of year we enjoy it most is fast approaching. Across the country, locals are returning to favorite spots as well as the ones they save for special occasions.
We've traveled (virtually) around the country looking for those outdoor bars and lounges that make their guests feel welcome, serve their favorite libations, feed them well, and create the atmosphere they're after. Some are fancy hotel rooftops and others are down-to-earth, casual bars. Many are set in historic parts of town like Atlanta's Nine Mile and The Outsider in Milwaukee, making them destinations for visitors exploring the cities.
Bar food has become a draw, and it's no longer just peanuts and pretzels. Wagyu beef, truffle fries, and caviar appear on a few menus, but never fear — tacos, burgers, and pizza are still there too. Live music and lawn games like bocce and cornhole add a party atmosphere, and views of city skylines and ocean waves create brilliant backdrops at several of these spots.
While your local happy place may not be on this list, we're hoping you'll be inspired to gather a few friends and head out to a favorite spot to welcome summer and celebrate getting together for some snacks, sips, and fresh air.
The Bungalow at the Fairmont Miramar, Santa Monica, CA
This Baja surf-style bistro is set on a brick garden patio, furnished with comfy sofas and casual chairs. Lanterns sway in the trees and ocean breezes encourage snuggling around fire pits. Specialty cocktails, sangria, beer, wine, and bottle specialties are served with tasty dishes by Fig, the hotel's acclaimed restaurant.
The Spare Room - Somewhere Else at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel: Hollywood, CA
This al fresco cocktail lounge is set behind the hotel's iconic David Hockney-designed pool among tall palms and lush plants. Cleverly named cocktails like "Highway to Bell" and "40-day Dream" accompany small plates that include grilled ciabatta, hamachi crudo, and wagyu meatballs. Take home a souvenir photo or logo sweatshirt, or play vintage games along with sips and bites.
L.P. Rooftop at E.P. and L.P., West Hollywood, CA
Views of the Hollywood Hills and Sunset Strip surround this glittering rooftop where a lively crowd gathers for cocktails, wine, beer, and happy hour specials. A selection of global snacks include carne asada skewers, ahi tuna tartare, burgers, tacos, and more. Guests come for an evening at L.P. or head up after enjoying the new modern American menu at E.P.
The Pool at The Sagamore Pendry, Baltimore, MD
Set at the end of Recreation Pier on the waterfront, this outdoor seasonal bar features views of the harbor, marina, and city skyline. It's an ideal spot for lounging, sipping cocktails, and dining poolside or tucked away in a private cabana. Order a "Sagamore Crush" or "Georgia Mule" on a warm evening along with antipasti or full dinner, or while away an afternoon with cocktails and light bites.
Deck 12 at YOTEL Boston: Boston, MA
This year-round indoor/outdoor venue offers views of the downtown Boston skyline and waterfront from its perch 12 floors above the seaport. The fresh air and panorama, along with a curated playlist, cocktails, and wine create a party atmosphere, especially after dark. Enjoy shareable plates and drinks under blue skies during the day or at night surrounded by city lights.
Beach Tree Bar & Lounge at the Four Seasons Hualalai: Hawaii, HI
Steps from the sand on a wooden deck furnished with casual seating, tables, and umbrellas, this oceanfront beach bar is a perfect spot to sip a tropical drink and relax to the sound of waves. The all-day menu includes ceviche, tacos, burgers, and pizzas served with beer, wine, and signature cocktails like "Tom's Pink Shirt" or the appropriately named "Paradise Spritz."
The Lost Square at The Alida: Savannah, GA
Panoramic views of the Savannah River and the city, along with relaxing atmosphere, plush seating, music, cocktails, and shareable plates combine for the perfect drinking spot. Invoking the city's history and its many picturesque squares, The Lost Square shows its playful side with cocktails named "Your Mom's Chest Hair'' and "Get in, Loser." Share a draft Paloma or Moscow Mule in a Pineapple Punch bowl for fun with friends.
Citrus Club at The Dewberry: Charleston, SC
Set on the highest rooftop in Charleston, this 8th floor terrace is the best place for spectacular views of the city and the Atlantic Ocean. It's no wonder Citrus Club tops the list of places to take first-time visitors to Charleston. Citrus-inspired cocktails are served with local foods like East Coast oysters on the half shell and blue crab dip. The friendly setting includes casual furniture and (of course) a citrus tree.
Cottonwood Pool Club at the Kimpton Cottonwood Hotel: Omaha, NE
This indoor-outdoor lounge on the pool deck features comfy seating — a great place to be whether you're there to swim, sun, or enjoy some refreshments. Cocktails, local craft beers, wine, and light bites are served poolside. Music on Saturdays, summer happy hours, and views of downtown Omaha add to the ambiance.
Nine Mile Station: Atlanta, GA
In Atlanta's historic Old Fourth Ward, this rooftop lounge and restaurant is known for its stunning skyline views as well as classic cocktails, shareable dishes, and a wide variety of craft beers. Located on the rooftop of Ponce City Market, the outdoor area is casual beer garden-style, with a popular weekend brunch, served along with welcoming southern hospitality.
Denim at The Joseph: Nashville, TN
Set on a rooftop 21 stories above Nashville, this poolside bar and restaurant features skyline and Cumberland River views, craft cocktails, and an all-day menu of Italian and American dishes created by Michelin-starred Chef Tony Mantuano. Sophisticated and inviting, the expansive deck, curated soundtrack, and lush living plant wall create the perfect backdrop for this indoor-outdoor lounge.
Rooftop Lounge at Bobby Hotel, Nashville, TN
High above Music City, this casual rooftop lounge is outfitted with a 1956 Scenicruiser tour bus, private cabanas, and games like ping pong and shuffleboard. Rocking music, beer, wine, cocktails, and snacks keep the party going under the stars. Bobby's Backyard is the place for a monthly series highlighting local artists the first Thursday of every month.
The Ocean Grill at The Setai: Miami Beach, FL
The open-air drinking and dining spot, formerly called The Pool and Beach Bar, still fits that description, and the elevated deck has been expanded to take in even more of its beachfront setting. Views of the Atlantic shore along with ocean breezes make this a great stop for a cocktail and light bite or a casual meal. A new woodfire grill enhances the Mediterranean-inspired menu.
Schooners Last Local Beach Club: Panama City Beach, FL
Steps from the sand and a few yards from the Gulf of Mexico on Florida's panhandle, Schooners is casual, fun, and always ready for a party, with a cannon blast at sunset every evening. Beachgoers head there for craft beers, cocktails, and frozen drinks accompanied by casual fare like gulf shrimp appetizers, sandwiches, fish tacos, and their version of a classic Cuban sandwich.
Timber Room at Madeline Hotel & Residences: Telluride, CO
This new indoor-outdoor bar and lounge features signature cocktails and an extensive champagne selection to sip along with elevated small plates meant for sharing. The outdoor pool and social terrace at Alpine Swim Club are set among sweeping mountain views where guests enjoy Alpine-inspired shareable bites and cocktails infused with local ingredients.
Q Rooftop at Quirk Hotel Charlottesville, Charlottesville, VA
This contemporary boutique hotel in the city's historic downtown features a casual all-day rooftop space offering city views, cocktails, local craft beers, and wines that include selections from Charlottesville wineries. Local produce, charcuterie, and cheeses continue the theme of highlighting the area's resource. Fire pits keep guests cozy when there's a chill in the air.
The Garden at Cherry Street Pier: Philadelphia
This open-air spot is set along the Delaware River with stunning views of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. Café tables, picnic benches, flowers, trees, and river views add to its appealing atmosphere. Cocktails, wines, and beers from local breweries are on the menu, perfect to accompany the specialty pretzel or jalapeño dip. Salads, sandwiches, and sweets are also available.
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Spyglass Rooftop Bar at Archer New York: New York City
From its perch atop the 22-story boutique hotel, guests at Spyglass Rooftop Bar get close-up views of the Empire State Building along with hand-crafted cocktail classics like Archer's Manhattan and summer favorite Aperol Spritz. Snacks and shareable plates include charred shishito peppers, mac 'n cheese croquettes, and rillettes and brie fondue. Dramatic scenes from the outdoor terrace, both day and night, make selfies and group photos irresistible.
Loeb Boathouse: Central Park: New York City
The only venue on the Central Park Lake, it's a picturesque place to relax with a cocktail at the Outside Bar and enjoy the view of the lake surrounded by the park's greenery. You might spot boats drifting by or even a gondolier entertaining his guests. Visit for brunch, lunch, dinner, or just a beverage beside the lake, one of Manhattan's most romantic spots.
Park and Field: Chicago
This casual-chic sports bar and restaurant features 6,000 square feet of outdoor space furnished with lawn chairs, fire pits, picnic tables, and a vintage camper bar. An extensive list of local brews, ciders, wines, slushies, and "craftails" includes the "Buzzer Beater" and "Spring Training," in keeping with the theme. Starters, salads, burgers, and sandwiches round out the menu.
Rita’s Cantina & Bar at JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn, Paradise Valley, AZ
Guests sip margaritas, tequilas, sangrias, and a selection of beers along with traditional Mexican dishes on the resort's expansive stone patio surrounded by mountain views and Sonoran desert landscaping. Al fresco breakfast, lunch, dinner, and happy hour specials are on the menu.
Sky Top at ADERO Scottsdale, AZ
With a daytime panorama of the surrounding mountain ranges and a blanket of stars at night, this modern outdoor cocktail lounge is a delightful spot for al fresco cocktails and dining. The specialty cocktail list includes the "Stargazer" and "The Old Astronomer," as well as gourmet small bites like the kaluga caviar, Hudson Valley foie gras potstickers, and short rib poutine.
Bavarian Bierhaus Biergarten: Milwaukee, WI
This biergarten in Old Heidelberg Park will transport you to Munich's Oktoberfest, with beers and ciders served in steins accompanied by Bavarian pretzels, wieners, bratwurst, and schnitzel. Savor a German feast at one of the 300 picnic tables throughout the Park or on the Bierhaus dining patio overlooking the park and soccer field.
The Outsider at the Kimpton Journeyman Hotel: Milwaukee, WI
This rooftop bar is set nine stories above the city's historic Third Ward, with open-air spaces, expansive views, umbrellas, shuffleboard, plush couches, and fire pits for chilly evenings. Craft beers on tap and a wide variety of wines, cocktails, and regional spirits are there for sipping along with shareable snacks like Ellsworth fried cheese curds, parmesan truffle fries, and short rib sliders.
Veranda Bar at Hotel Drover, Fort Worth, TX
Located next to The Backyard, a half-acre natural oasis along Marine Creek, Veranda Bar offers a custom-built bar and outdoor seating overlooking the creek, perfect for an al fresco Texas-inspired cocktail or light bite. Guests gather to enjoy live music, fire pits, cornhole games, and more.
Owl Bar, Sundance Mountain Resort, Sundance, UT
This rustic mountain spot features a restored 1890s bar that was moved from Thermopolis, Wyoming, and we're told that Butch Cassidy and his Hole-in-the-Wall Gang frequented the bar in its early days. Today, cocktails, beers, wine, and food attract guests to the expansive outdoor patio set among pine trees, fire pits, and live music on weekends.
Lady Bird at the Kimpton Banneker Hotel: Washington, D.C.
The rooftop bar at this new hotel, named for Benjamin Banneker, one of the country's major Black innovators, promises to become a D.C. hotspot. The bar's name recalls former First Lady Claudia Alta ("Lady Bird") Johnson, and its stunning location features unobstructed views of the White House and city below. Fire pits, DJs, and inviting lounge furniture complete the picture.