NYC’s Best Beer Gardens for All Your Outdoor Drinking Needs
There are plenty of places to drink outside in New York City. But if skirting the law and boozing in the park doesn't appeal to you, or you're not interested in paying unholy sums of money for a watered-down cocktail at a crowded, overhyped rooftop bar, make an outdoor beer garden your drinking destination.
As hard-working New Yorkers, we owe it to ourselves to spend our precious free time unburdened by the boundaries of four walls and a roof. That's why we've hit the pavement to find the best outdoor beer gardens in NYC, where you can expect good beer, minimal crowds, and palatable prices.
Locals were grieved when Prospect Heights’ beloved Hot Bird closed at the end of 2018, but they can get still their mechanic-shop-turned-bar fix a bit farther south. Greenwood Park’s layout is a summer lover’s dream, sporting 60 tap lines (at least 24 at a time are devoted to local brews like KCBC and Folksbier) and plentiful pitchers, all to be enjoyed in 13,000 square feet of patio and pub. If you’re looking to trade Park Slope for the beach, you can visit their seasonal outpost at the Coney Art Wall outdoor museum of street art.
Looking to drink a beer and catch some sun in Gowanus after a round of shuffleboard at Royal Palms or axe throwing at Kick Axe? Lavender Lake is the spot to beat. Named for the neighborhood’s eponymous Superfund site, its spacious back patio and relatively quiet surroundings make it a warm weather destination. The beer here goes above and beyond, with a rotating list of local drafts and a steady supply of canned options like Industrial Arts’ Wrench IPA and Threes Vliet (which just happens to be brewed a stone’s throw away). Snacks abound, too: The nachos, smashed burger, and hot pretzels are all on point.
If you’re familiar with the Mr. Saturday Night or Mr. Sunday parties, there’s a good chance you’ve already gotten down to DJ sets at Nowadays. And if you’re a beer geek, you probably know it as the pop-up tap room for the long-awaited Evil Twin Brewery. Until Evil Twin opens nearby, Nowadays is the go-to spot for exclusive to-go cans. Other local brews like Grimm, Other Half, and Interboro have long flowed from the taps here, too -- all best enjoyed in the verdant, comfortable outdoor space, any day of the week.
At first blush, The Springs might seem like one of those run-of-the-mill Instagram-bait bars that have become ubiquitous over the past few years. But beyond the flamingo wallpaper and Palm Springs-meets-Pee-Wee’s-Playhouse decor, there are legitimately great things happening here, particularly in terms of the beer selection. The suds are as ample as the patio space: Ten draft lines and more than thirty cans and bottles like Oxbow, Peekskill Brewing, Common Roots, and Bunker all grace the menu. The backyard is large enough that there’s a good chance you’ll actually be able to grab a seat without having to jostle for space.
German expats flock to this neighborhood mainstay for soccer games (you can hear cheers for blocks whenever the German national team scores a goal), some of the best German beer available stateside, and the occasional brew imported exclusively for Zum Schneider. The food menu also elevates typical beer-garden fare, so don't think twice about ordering that white sausage.
This gem has an outdoor space and enough distance from the subway to keep it from getting packed to capacity. It's also got a top-notch draft and bottled beer list, including brews from LIC Beer Project and Interboro Spirits & Ales. The cozy backyard is complete with a ring toss, seating in an old skiing gondola, and good, simple bar food to graze on. You can also catch electric slot car derbies and MarioKart tournaments.
The Financial District probably isn't the first place that comes to mind when considering where to drink outdoors, but Clinton Hall is the exception. Crafty draft selections like Allagash Curieux and Logsdon Seizoen sidle up alongside stein-fillers like Radeberger and Weihenstephaner, making for an advanced yet comfortable beer menu to sip through on outdoor picnic tables. Slake your short attention span with games like ping pong and giant versions of Connect Four, Jenga, and chess. The best time to come is on the weekend, when the post-work crowd has cleared out.
Spuyten Duyvil has seemingly boundless outdoor space and plenty of tables where you can soak up some sun. Throw in a bottle and draft beer list (both domestic and import) that stands out even among some of the city's best beer bars, and it achieves a proper next-level status. The backyard is also open until a relatively late 11:30pm each night, so there's no need to rush to beat sunset.
Since this is a German-leaning garden, Bierstrasse obviously has a solid selection of well-known German drafts (like Krombacher and Erdinger) for your stein-swinging enjoyment. It also has a stable of great American cans and bottles by breweries like Firestone Walker, Bells', and New York City's own KelSo. It's almost enough to make the Hudson feel like the Rhine.
Ask any of your friends the last time they spent an afternoon in Battery Park and there's a good chance they’ll tell you "never." But Table Green draws plenty of drinkers to the southern tip of Manhattan. The limited but serviceable selection of local beers is enhanced by attention to detail on the simple food menu (and a selection of wines on tap), not to mention one of the best views you can get below 14th Street. An extra long happy hour (Monday-Friday from 5pm to close) makes it a great place to take advantage of summer Fridays with co-workers, too.
This neighborhood staple has plenty of access to blue sky and an impressive selection on 19 rotating draft lines, featuring suds like Gun Hill Broadway Boogie, KCBC Dangerous Precedent, and Swiftwater IPA 19. You'll have to get there early if you want to secure a spot in the sun, but the open-air setup means that pretty much every seat will catch a breeze.
Threes produces some of the best beer in New York. And anyone who's had the chance to stop by the brewery itself knows there's even more to recommend it: food from The Meat Hook, excellent coffee from Ninth Street Espresso, and one of the neighborhood's most inviting outdoor beer gardens attached to the taproom. Still, the beer is the most important thing here -- and apart from Threes' own beers on draft, you can expect guest appearances from the likes of Suarez Family Brewery and Other Half.
A friend once described Washington Commons as "that eccentric kid from high school you could never stop being friends with," which is a pretty apt assessment. This Prospect Heights favorite is known for its friendly, informed bartenders, lively regulars, and impressive draft lineups from brewers like Kent Falls Brewing and Half Acre Beer Company -- which go down pretty easily on the back patio. It's a true winner in an area lacking in outdoor options, and it's decked out with plenty of picnic table space for small and large groups alike.
Radegast exemplifies the classic German Beer Garden. Its selection of draft beers is a familiar round-up of the bierhalle classics, rounded out with select classic Belgian and Bohemian bottles, and a sleeper hit selection of geographically appropriate wines. Since the outdoor space here under a retractable roof, and when it’s open the airy ambiance will entice you to stay all day.
Sign up here for our daily NYC email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun New York has to offer.