The Best Outdoor Dining in Every State
A great restaurant offers more than just amazing food — it provides a stunning setting and inviting ambiance where you can unwind. And what better place to dine and relax than a beautiful patio. From enjoying beautiful views over oceans or lakes to charming open air hideaways in the middle of the city, these are some of the best restaurant patios in America where you can eat or drink away the evening.
Jeff Rindskopf also contributed to this story.
Join friends and neighbors at this true local haunt in Birmingham’s Crestwood neighborhood. True to its name, The Filling Station used to be a gas station and keeps the casual vibe both indoors and out. The patio hosts live music on Wednesdays, and dog owners can bring Fido every Thursday for Paws on the Patio. Pizza is the star of the menu.
When it’s nice enough for outdoor dining in Alaska, patrons flock to 49th State Brewing Company to kick back on the rooftop patio that affords views of the Alaska Range and Cook Inlet. The selection of in-house beers is extensive, and the menu includes local favorites such as Alaska Wild King Salmon and even an Alaskan-raised Yak burger.
This special-occasion restaurant at the L’Auberge de Sedona is home of one of the most picturesque patios you’ll ever lay eyes on. Diners at Cress on Oak Creek can enjoy a locally sourced prix-fixe menu under a lush green tree canopy as Oak Creek tumbles over rocks nearby. Dining inside? Huge windows keep the scenery on full display.
Lauded as “one of the coolest patios in Little Rock,” Hill Station’s dog-friendly patio has tons of space for outdoor dining at picnic tables and colorful four-tops under twinkling lights and shady trees. There are even toys to occupy the kids, heaters for cold weather, and TVs to catch the game. Customers say the burgers can’t be beat.
Rolling hills of vineyards span out in all directions from Leoness Cellars, a Temecula winery with indoor tastings and Mediterranean-style outdoor dining on weekends. Diners can listen to live music or stroll through the vines to a cavernous barrel room while waiting for food. Some highlights include the oysters Rockefeller and truffle fries.
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A rooftop food truck sits just north of downtown Denver, offering skyline views beside an old-school neon sign from when the restaurant space was a mortuary. There are irresistible fusion concoctions such as Korean barbecue and Colorado lamb kabob. Visit Linger for the evening skies and cheap cocktails during its weekday happy hours from 4 to 6:30 p.m.
Related: Food Trucks Worth Following
The expansive patio at River Waterfront Restaurant and Bar overlooks the tree-lined Connecticut River. If there’s a chill in the air, don’t worry: River boasts that it has almost 1 million BTUs of infrared heat ready to blast from 22 outdoor heaters. The wide-ranging menu features steaks, seafood, and pasta, or you can opt for cocktails and brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.
It’s hard to beat the ocean views from the Big Chill Beach Club, located on the sand in Delaware Seashore State Park. There’s a concession stand for those who want to stay closer to the waves, plus a sandpit area with Adirondacks and cornhole. Head upstairs and enjoy the sun on the elevated deck, where you can dig into crab cakes, shrimp wraps, and other coastal favorites.
Related: The Best Beaches on the East Coast
Massive, elegant Sequoia offers its patrons white table cloths, $150 seafood towers, and dazzling views of the Potomac River and Kennedy Center. About 1,000 guests can eat here after a recent renovation, according to Eater DC, with more than half of them on the massive outdoor patio. Saturday’s all-you-can-eat Tapas Brunch, with endless small plates and cocktails, is always a highlight.
Related: The Best Brunch in Every State
There’s more to do than sit at the lush outdoor patio of Miami Beach’s Broken Shaker at the Freehand hotel, where diners can also enjoy the pool, hammock, ping pong table, or bocce court while sampling artichoke fries, cheap beers, and drink specials.
Canoe’s peaceful setting on the Chattahoochee River is almost legendary for anyone who wants to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. The large patio overlooks manicured gardens, and visitors can take a stroll or relax with a drink by the water. A concert series on Wednesday evenings adds to the ambience. Highlights on the large menu include old standards and more inventive dishes like peppercorn-crusted kangaroo.
The sand between your toes at Huggo’s On the Rocks isn’t the actual beach — just a balcony built over the Pacific waves crashing against volcanic tide pools along the Big Island’s Kona coast. Musicians play to casual crowds at the bar and tables nearly every night. On the menu, don’t miss the guava mojitos or the many sandwiches and entrees made with grass-fed, island-grown beef.
At Bella Aquila, al fresco dining comes with a romantic vibe that makes this riverfront restaurant on the Boise River an ideal date-night destination. Outside, huge trees and babbling waterfalls make the atmosphere hard to beat if the weather cooperates. The menu is filled with Italian favorites including lasagna and seafood risotto.
Every seat at River Roast, indoors and out, affords a view of the Chicago River and the high rises on its banks. From here diners order cocktail infusions, Midwestern microbrews, and meat dishes that are smoked and carved tableside. On Sundays, there is a brunch menu complemented by live blues.
Auberge, in the charming Brick Street Inn, has a patio that overlooks the equally charming streetscape of historic Zionsville. The restaurant’s Live Music on the Bricks series brings musicians to perform two or three times a week while diners savor French-inspired cuisine like ratatouille or steak frites.
This approachable haunt with New American food and plenty of craft brews has an impressive rooftop patio with string lights, heaters, and fire pits, and views of Iowa River Landing. Expect tacos, burgers, salads, and plenty of snacks ready to be paired with a local ale or IPA.
The Wichita outpost of this regional chain is more than a place to unwind with food and a beer — it’s a full-blown entertainment complex. Play pickleball, shuffleboard, or bocce ball; challenge friends to a casual round of cornhole or other lawn games; or simply kick back and enjoy a burger or some ribs. A packed event calendar includes live music, trivia, and pickleball clinics.
An unassuming strip mall is home to this upscale restaurant and one of the city’s best patios. Pass through the French doors to find a brick-and-stone oasis with a large pergola and plenty of greenery. On Friday and Saturday nights, listen to jazz, blues, and other live music while you dine on signature dishes like phyllo-wrapped fried shrimp served with coconut-corn risotto and a sweet and spicy glaze.
For an outdoor meal in New Orleans with unbeatable ambience, try Café Amelie, a French Quarter carriage house with an immaculate courtyard patio of iron furniture and bubbling fountains. Creole specialties abound on each of its menus, but the weekend brunch boasts some of Amelie’s best, such as the crawfish linguine and chicken and waffles.
No list of America’s best outdoor dining would be complete without an iconic Maine lobster shack. Appropriately named, The Lobster Shack has a tankful of shellfish boiled fresh to order for whole servings or as lobster rolls, both of which can be enjoyed in its lighthouse-adjacent seaside picnic area.
This family-owned beer hall is as famous for its award-winning Munster cheese and crab soup as for its cold German brews. Whether for Oktoberfest or weekend musical performances, the tree-lined and light-strewn patio of Old Stein Inn is a lively place to drink and eat hearty old world specialties with modern mid-Atlantic twists including spätzles of seafood or braised pork shank.
Though Boston and Cape Cod undoubtedly have endless charming options for outdoor dining, western Massachusetts has one of the most unique. The Alvah Stone, housed in an old bookmill, has a roomy patio hidden among the flowers and trees. Even better? It overlooks a waterfall on the Sawmill River. The menu includes steak, salmon, salads, and hearty sandwiches served on focaccia.
Guests dine on a deck right over the lake at The Pink Pony, one of Mackinac Island’s most popular and eclectic restaurants. The restaurant also hosts live music and other entertainment under the signature pink umbrellas of its patio. Don’t leave without trying some of its locally caught specialties; the island-famous smoked whitefish dip is a must.
A tiki bar in a climate that could definitely use some tropical atmosphere, Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge is known for its colorful cocktails and off-color humor. On a nice day, sip Mai Tais and split hand-tossed pizzas with Thai or Hawaiian toppings from the riverside patio, overlooking the Mississippi River.
Perched atop the First National Bank building in Vicksburg, 10 South offers commanding views of the Yazoo River as it flows into the mighty Mississippi. Watch the historic riverboats while you enjoy the breeze and fuel up with local dishes like fried green tomatoes, gumbo, catfish, or shrimp and grits.
Check when the sun sets and head to Baxter’s to enjoy the lights dimming over lush Lake Ozark from the restaurant’s covered patio. Daily happy hours bring special pricing on cocktails and discounts on seafood and traditional American fare such as Maryland crab cakes and chicken wings.
The Raven’s motto: “Life is better by the lake.” Step out on the heated patio and you’ll see why: The view of Flathead Lake and the mountains beyond is pristine. Summer is filled with live music and special menus, and the Caribbean-inspired food will transport you to somewhere just a little warmer than Montana.
Watch the world go by in Omaha’s historic Old Market district, where plenty of shops, galleries, and restaurants line the cobblestone streets. Twisted Fork’s covered patio overlooks busy Howard Street, providing just the right ambience for casual, cowboy-inspired comfort food like pot pie, pork chops, and meatloaf.
This Lake Tahoe restaurant is so close to the California state line that diners could skip rocks across it from the shaded alpine-style patio. A golf pub and part of the Edgewood Hotel, Brooks’ Bar & Deck is one of the best places around to watch the sun sink over the lake, or to imbibe a few local IPAs followed by some street tacos.
Located on the grounds of the early-20th century Castle in the Clouds’ Lucknow mansion, this restaurant’s terrace seating offers panoramic, mountaintop views of the surrounding Ossipee Mountains and glittering nearby lakes. Carriage House’s interior is just fine, but wait for an outdoor table — from there, you can enjoy tasty comfort food-themed dishes that include sandwiches, tacos, soups, salads, and starters.
Under an hour outside New York City, Stone House at Stirling Ridge is a rustic, elegant farm-to-table restaurant. Head here in the summer for the dazzling outdoor patio with its twinkling lights, pergolas, and fire pits. When it cools down, the stone walls, warm chandeliers, fireplaces, and towering collection of fine wine keep things cozy inside.
Los Ranchos de Albuquerque
Guests at this creekside inn and eatery can play bocce and stroll the farm in search of animals such as its rare albino peacock before eating, provided you can score a reservation. The menu at Los Poblanos is chock full of seasonal dishes made from onsite ingredients, including artisanal cheese plates, spring vegetable salads, and achiote grilled ribeye.
It’s far from the cheapest pizza found in Brooklyn, but Roberta’s fluffy personal pies are among the borough’s best for unique topping combinations. Try the Cheesus Christ, made with mozzarella, taleggio, parmigiano, black pepper, and cream. The pizzeria is marked by a bright red entrance and offers guests an industrial yet welcoming patio with garden botanicals and views of the surrounding buildings. Reservations encouraged.
Head to Asheville’s noted Grove Park Inn on a nice evening to enjoy Mother Nature’s colorful show at Sunset Terrace. The view of the mountains is lovely even if the sunset is less than spectacular, and the mouth-watering menu features steak, fish, and other elevated favorites.
One of Fargo’s biggest patios beckons at Pub West, where outdoor heaters and fire pits can keep diners toasty even when chilly weather rears its ugly head. The menu of comfort food will also keep bellies happy and warm, with everything from pasta to burgers to bar favorites like wings.
This longtime upscale favorite has a charming patio befitting of its location in Columbus’ old-world German Village. Diners can dig into tapas, hearty paella, and other Spanish favorites in an intimate courtyard overflowing with greenery. An after-dinner stroll awaits at the equally picturesque Schiller Park next door.
Can’t decide on what to eat? Head to The Collective in OKC, and you won’t have to. It hosts nine kitchens with more on the way, and they serve everything from fried tacos to cheesesteaks to poke bowls. Whatever you choose, enjoy it on the 95-person rooftop patio, where you can appreciate the city skyline.
Bridgewater Bistro is a former cannery in the far northwest of Oregon, in the shadow of a bridge crossing the Columbia River as it widens into the ocean. Sitting on the patio docks on a sunny day, diners can hear jazz and swing music select evenings in summer while enjoying wines by the glass and seared salmon, calamari, or Willapa Bay oysters.
Manayunk, home to Philadelphia’s largest al fresco dining area, overlooks the wooded banks of the Schuylkill River and regularly hosts events taking advantage of its prime location — including live bands and kayak tours. Diners can come any time to try diverse comfort food including burgers, pizza, and Manayunk’s own microbrews.
Guests arrive by car or by boat at the dockside Boat House in Tiverton, famous for its al fresco dining on the Sakonnet River as well as its focus on fresh, local dishes. Reservations are often necessary to sip high-end cocktails and dine on seafood such as pan-seared scallops, grilled swordfish, and lobster mac and cheese. Reservations encouraged.
The Charleston area is rife with charming patios, but it’s hard to beat the view of bustling Shem Creek from Saltwater Cowboys’ huge waterside deck. The restaurant hosts live musicians just about every day when the weather is nice, and the menu is filled with both Southern seafood favorites and barbecue. Bring your pooch — there’s even an entire menu of dog treats.
Inside or out, you can’t lose at Firehouse Brewing, housed in a firehouse from 1915. Inside, the memorabilia (including the original fire pole) makes for a truly unique ambience. Outside, a huge firefighter mural overlooks the street-side brick patio, and there’s a bandshell with twinkling lights where local musicians jam while you eat comfort food including burgers, sandwiches, and barbecue.
The mere thought of barbecue might be enough to lure you, but the beer garden at Martin’s in downtown Nashville is the ideal place to chow down on a nice day. You’ll find colorful picnic tables for making new friends, a stage for the many live music acts that cycle through, and games to pass the time before or after your meal.
Related: Bucket List Barbecue in Every State
San Antonio’s oldest Mexican restaurant may still be its best, particularly for its private patio dining complete with overhanging trees, fountain and stone fireplace. Reservations at La Fonda on Main are required, but the menu remains deliciously unpretentious, built around Tex-Mex classics such as chicken enchiladas and interior Mexican specialties such as shredded duck tacos.
Salt Lake City
How’s an al fresco meal in a canyon sound? That’s what diners can enjoy at Log Haven, a fine-dining restaurant tucked away in Wasatch National Forest. Housed in a historic log mansion, the restaurant is lovely inside, too, but the real attraction is the lush scenery outdoors. The food is top-notch, too, and Log Haven has nabbed plenty of notable awards for its menu, wine list, and unique setting.
Hen of the Wood is a farm-to-table restaurant in a 19th century grain mill with an idyllic patio overlooking a babbling granite creek — exactly what you’d hope for in Vermont. The menu makes it easy to split small plates such as the calamari and ham-wrapped rabbit loin, or opt for something larger such as the fried rabbit or duck breast for two.
The outdoor-dining scene at Blue Mountain Brewery is worth a drive, but so is the scenery in the serene Blue Ridge foothills. A wide grassy lawn, pergolas, twinkling lights, and yard games await, and leashed pets are welcome, too. The menu is full of burgers, pizzas, and plenty of brews that taste even better in the fresh air.
A few miles northwest of downtown Seattle, Ray’s Café and Boathouse has two levels of indoor and outdoor dining, offering a peaceful view of Puget Sound, stunning sunsets and, on a clear day, the Olympic Mountains on the other side. Both restaurants have food and drink specials during daily happy hours, but the café on the second level is more casual and generally cheaper.
Take a break from an action-packed day of rafting, climbing, or riding by grabbing a meal at this casual joint, tucked away in one of West Virginia’s most popular areas for outdoor recreation. The expansive back deck overlooks the New River Gorge, and the restaurant regularly hosts live music to make the Mexican comfort food that much more delicious.
For Wisconsinites, the Caribbean might be closer than expected. San Pedro Cafe is charming enough on the inside, housed in a bank building from 1872. But head out back and you’ll find a cozy two-tiered patio filled with flowers, twinkling lights, and a water feature. The menu is full of island favorites like jerk chicken wraps, ceviche, posole, and fish tacos.
The garden area of the Gannett Grill is shaded by a 100-year-old blue spruce and the menu focuses on burgers made with locally raised grass-fed beef, hand-tossed pizzas, and hearty sandwiches. Try the Houlihan, with braised pork, house-smoked paprika sauce, and grilled peppers and onions on ciabatta.