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Discover this Summer’s Bustling Outdoor Dining Scene

Discover this Summer’s Bustling Outdoor Dining Scene

Everything is Waiting for You, Downtown! 

By and large, the pandemic has not done good things for the restaurant industry. Eateries have been shuttered across the country, while those that have survived find themselves struggling and short on staff. To make it, places had to radically adapt their business models and roll with an endless series of regulatory and financial punches. Take-out dining took off in a big way, as did outdoor seating. Now, these adaptations might be seen as one of the glimmers of positive change to emerge from such a dark period.

Many restaurants radically redesigned their spaces to allow folks to enjoy their food in the safety of the fresh air. For locations without a lot of space, sometimes this meant working with municipalities to coopt sections of streets, or it meant the erection of tents, or the merging of businesses. This summer, as the weather turns hot and we want to eat outside not just because of Covid-19 but to enjoy the sun, the sights and the smells, a whole new range of outdoor eating options has developed.

Take a look on a restaurant’s website to see what they’ve got going on outside. Chances are, they have some option that’s sure to be interesting and offer a welcome change of scenery.

For instance: I recently had dinner and a beer at Zero Gravity brewing in Burlington, VT; the brewery and the adjacent Great Northern restaurant have teamed up during the pandemic, and created a long, open-air patio that spans their shared building. Upon arriving we were shown to a table, and then we walked back to an order window. There, you could order off of Great Northern’s mouthwatering American-Mediterranean menu and get a frothy pint from Zero Gravity’s renowned beer list.

This Burlington spot really had the best of both the bar and restaurant summertime scenes: foodies, beer-lovers and bar-hoppers could all feel right at home. But even if your local eateries and watering holes haven’t combined to make super-venues for outdoor fun, you can easily make your own adventure amongst the street-side patios and picnic tables. Many breweries, distilleries and bars that don’t serve food are more than happy to let you much on your favorite take out from down the street as you sip their freshly poured concoctions. Or, you can do the reverse: many states and cities have legalized to-go booze (a provision which California has extended into Summer 2021) which means you can grab a hot meal and a cocktail from your favorite joint and find your own ideal seating.  

It used to be that pedestrian-friendly, outdoor-seating filled streets were a rarity in the US. Most people would think of the car-free cobblestone streets of Europe as the epicenter of such open-air establishments. This summer though, as the pandemic has made indoor dining a bit passé, more and more American streets are limiting the car traffic and giving free-er reign to walkers, diners and casual sippers. This can mean a whole new atmosphere around town, with music and fresh food wafting through the air, accompanied by the steady hum of long-awaited conversations, laughter-filled reunions, and the simple joy of folks seeing one another’s faces.

Be sure to check out your neighborhood and see what this summer’s nightlife has in store for you!

About The Author

Pete Wilson

Pete is a Vermont native with a lifelong love of being outside. Ever since he bushwhacked a ski trail through his parents’ property, he’s been hooked on getting into the woods--whether it’s on skis or snowshoes, or going out for a trail run or a long hike. He studied English at Carleton College, and now after four years in Minnesota is back in the Green Mountains exploring the endlessly beautiful and intriguing locales across the Northeast.

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