KQED Guides

The Most Inviting Outdoor Drinking Spots in the Bay

Tiffany Abuan

Lake Chalet in Oakland

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.

1. ZEITGEIST

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.

Southern Pacific Brewing Company

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 in the city of course means the best bars with outdoor seating). Here you can get house brewed beers for a ridiculously 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.

3. JUPITER

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. 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 on a blanket in the Sonoma Plaza Park, and watch people go in and out of

Flickr: Michael Hickey

the stores on the square while you make up stories about your lives.  All you need is a bottle, a bottle opener, a blanket and someone good to giggle with.

6. 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.

- By Lizzy Acker

  • http://www.facebook.com/edd.ringlein Edd Ringlein

    May I add to your list:
    http://www.lagunitas.com/taproom/index.html
    one of the best in the bay area?

  • beerguy

    Buffalo Bill’s Brewery 1082 B St Hayward, CA 94541

    May be the oldest brewpub in the U.S. Great food too.

    The Bistro 1001 B St Hayward, CA 94541
    Incredible selection of beer

  • KM

    So Pacific Brewing Company under new ownership–now Hopmonk.

    Fab new winery courtyard VJB in Glen Ellen right off the highway. Wood-fired pizza, gelato, deli, wine, Italian opera!

  • Chris

    Sam’s in Tiburon is pretty good by itself, but it you’re on a boat, it’s one of the best (and few) options.

  • jayinoak

    As much as I wish it wasn’t true…the food at Oakland’s Lake Chalet is underwhelming as can be the service. I’d suggest any of the newer restaurants in Jack London Square. Bocanova or Forge are levels better overall than the Chalet and both have outdoor patio areas to enjoy on a nice day.

  • bigskybabs

    I love Picante’s patio in Berkeley, especially when they have the patio cantina running for Cinco de Mayo, etc. It boasts no view, but is a nicely enclosed garden oasis in an otherwise urban area.

  • AnnieS

    Given we all live a only a mile or 3 from some beautiful natural water/coastline, this list sucks. This is the best? Jupiter’s pub garden? There must be something else out there.