Updated: June 2, 2014
In the South, swampy summer weather means Mint Juleps on the veranda. Here in the Bay Area, we enjoy our drinks outdoors as soon as we glimpse the sun’s intermittent rays. Want to sip a G&T while feeling the warm sun on your face? Here are some great places to go.
Zeigeist falls under Outdoor Drinking in the Bay 101, the most well-known and oft-suggested place for an al fresco beverage. Want rows of picnic tables, burgers off a grill, pitchers of beer and the atmosphere of the Waffles-For-Dinner night at the cafeteria in your small liberal arts college in the woods? This is your place. Please note: if you are offended by any type of smoking, biker dudes, rubbing elbows with strangers or port-a-potties, I recommend moving on to the next place on the list.
2. SOUTHERN PACIFIC BREWING COMPANY
If you like the picnic tables, the pitchers and the burgers aspect of Zeitgeist, but also want to bring your babies and/or puppies along to chaperone while you drink, try Southern Pacific Brewing Company , also in the Mission (the best weather means the best bars with outdoor seating). Here you can get house-brewed beers for a reasonable price and one of the best burgers in the city while paying for the whole thing on your credit card (a rarity in this part of San Francisco)! The crowd here is a little older, calmer and better-dressed than the horde at Zeitgeist. However, the level of fun you will have is exactly the same.
A Berkeley perennial favorite, Jupiter is a sweet spot for sharing micro-brews with your friends out on a big patio. Besides the great food and the great beer, heat lamps keep you warm outside so you can drink in the fresh air even when the sun isn’t shining on full blast. And if you go on the right night? Live jazz!
4. LAKE CHALET
Enjoy your drink overlooking a body of water — and even literally out on a dock — at the Lake Chalet. While opinions on the food, service and prices wildly differ, even the most disenchanted Yelp reviewer can’t help but appreciate the view out over Lake Merritt from the renovated Municipal Boat House. Bonuses: affordable Happy Hour and GONDOLA RIDES on the lake! Call ahead to make a reservation.
5. THE TOURIST CLUB
Pack some snacks and some cash for beer and hike through the redwoods in Mill Valley to the Tourist Club. Make sure you have a map and that it’s open (the hours are very particular for non-members) and carve out a good amount of time for the walk in, some good chill time with a beer in the sunshine and a board game (provided!) and the walk back. A hike, a beer and some greenery on your eyeballs will cure anything you might be suffering from. Repeat as necessary.
6. SONOMA PLAZA PARK
Little known fact: You can drink alcohol legally in a public park — Sonoma Plaza Park, that is — after 11 a.m. until dark. Goes to show you don’t need to be a millionaire or even gainfully employed to enjoy some wine in wine country. Share a bottle of Two Buck Chuck and some crackers and cheese with your honey in the Sonoma Plaza Park. Watch people go in and out of the stores on the square while you make up stories about their lives. All you need is a bottle, a bottle opener, a blanket and someone good to giggle with.
- By Lizzy Acker