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A Parade Of Patios: The Best Outdoor Bar Spots In Michigan

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    Michiganders know how to make the most of each of the four seasons, and in the summer that often means a lot of time outside. Thanks to the Great Lakes and a thriving craft brewing industry, this usually involves a trip to the beach with a beer in hand. We do eventually have to return to work and other responsibilities, but come Happy Hour you’ll find us right back outside on a sunny bar patio.

    With our long, sometimes brutal winters, it’s no surprise that we celebrate the release of spring and summer-only seasonal beers as if they were state holidays. There are several great choices, but my warm-weather favorite is Short’s Soft Parade. Although it’s available year-round, the months when grocery stores and farmers’ markets start overflowing with fresh berries are when I daydream about Soft Parade’s refreshingly sweet, fruity flavor.

    For me, that flavor is best served in a cold pitcher on a hot day with a patio umbrella and a group of friends, and this is why Soft Parade is the perfect choice — because it can be shared with just about anyone. The tart blend of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries provides a familiar taste for wine and cocktail lovers, and at 15 IBU the taste is crisp and malty enough as to not offend those who “don’t get” IPAs. Meanwhile, Short’s Brewing Company‘s local-centric culture and Soft Parade’s 7.5% ABV appeal to my friends who take their craft beer very seriously.

    Summer is officially here, so whether you’re looking for the best outdoor drinking spot nearby or you’re interested in another great Michigan pastime — road tripping — these are the patios and beer gardens where you’ll find me enjoying the sunshine and a Soft Parade:

    Southeast Michigan

    Take a minute to relax with a burger and a beer in the sun without leaving Downtown Detroit, as Checker Bar is just a block from Campus Martius. Photo courtesy of Chick in the Mitt
    Take a minute to relax with a burger and a beer in the sun without leaving Downtown Detroit because Checker Bar is just a block from Campus Martius. Photo courtesy of Chick in the Mitt.

    Checker Bar
    124 Cadillac Square
    Downtown Detroit

     

    Brown Iron Brewhouse is worth the drive to Washington Township for one of the best patios in Metro Detroit. Photo courtesy of The Source
    Brown Iron Brewhouse is worth the drive to Washington Township for one of the best patios in Metro Detroit. Photo courtesy of The Source.

    Brown Iron Brewhouse
    57695 Van Dyke Ave.
    Washington Twp.

     

    Life's a party at the beach! Enjoy great food and views during the day and a hopping night life at Brownie's on the Lake. Photo courtesy of Detroit Metro Times
    Life’s a party at the beach! Enjoy great food and views during the day and a hopping night life at Brownie’s on the Lake. Photo courtesy of Detroit Metro Times.

    Brownie’s on the Lake
    24214 Jefferson Ave.
    St. Clair Shores

     

    The railroad-related name and decor are no coincidence, as Sidetrack sits beside the tracks in Depot Town of Yspilanti. Photo courtesy of Michigan Exposures
    The railroad-related name and decor are no coincidence, as Sidetrack sits beside the tracks in Depot Town of Yspilanti. Photo courtesy of Michigan Exposures.

    Sidetrack
    56 E. Cross St.
    Depot Town Ypsilanti

    Also worth mentioning:

    West Michigan

    The Score is a tropical vacation without leaving Grand Rapids. Photo courtesy of GR Pulse
    The Score is a tropical vacation without leaving Grand Rapids. Photo courtesy of GR Pulse.

    The Score
    5301 Northland Dr. NE
    Northview Grand Rapids

     

    Take in the calming scenery of Reeds Lake from the dockside patio at Rose's Restaurant in Grand Rapids. Photo courtesy of Experience GR
    Take in the calming scenery of Reeds Lake from the dockside patio at Rose’s Restaurant in Grand Rapids. Photo courtesy of Experience GR.

    Rose’s Restaurant
    550 Lakeside Dr. SE
    East Grand Rapids

     

    Old Dog Tavern's "Star Paper Co." facade will draw you in, but it's the relaxed beer garden and stage area that will make you want to stay. Photo courtesy of Old Dog Tavern
    Old Dog Tavern’s “Star Paper Co.” facade will draw you in, but it’s the relaxed beer garden and stage area that will make you want to stay. Photo courtesy of Old Dog Tavern.

    Old Dog Tavern
    402 E. Kalamazoo Ave.
    Kalamazoo

    Also worth mentioning:

    Mid Michigan

    The Peanut Barrel is an MSU student favorite and a cozy escape tucked between campus and Downtown East Lansing. Photo by Joel Heckaman
    The Peanut Barrel is a Michigan State University student favorite and a cozy escape tucked between campus and Downtown East Lansing. Photo by Joel Heckaman.

    The Peanut Barrel
    521 E. Grand River Ave.
    Downtown East Lansing

     

    Take a break from the beach at Lake Lansing with a spot on the rooftop patio at Blue Gill Grill in Haslett. Photo by Joel Heckaman
    Take a break from the beach at Lake Lansing with a spot on the rooftop patio at Blue Gill Grill in Haslett. Photo by Joel Heckaman.

    Blue Gill Grill
    1591 Lake Lansing Rd.
    Haslett

     

    REO Town in Lansing is starting to boom again, and you can get a front row seat on the spacious patio at REO Town Pub. Photo courtesy of REO Town Pub
    REO Town in Lansing is starting to boom again, and you can get a front row seat on the spacious patio at REO Town Pub. Photo courtesy of REO Town Pub.

    REO Town Pub
    1145 S. Washington Ave.
    REO Town Lansing

    Also worth mentioning:

    Northern Michigan / Upper Peninsula

    A beautiful drive through the Tunnel of Trees along M-119 is just the beginning, as Legs Inn has handmade wood carvings inside and a scenic view of Lake Michigan outside. Photo courtesy of Northern Swag
    A beautiful drive through the Tunnel of Trees along M-119 is just the beginning, as Legs Inn has handmade wood carvings inside and a scenic view of Lake Michigan outside. Photo courtesy of Northern Swag.

    Legs Inn
    6425 N. Lake Shore Dr.
    Cross Village

     

    Why not get a Soft Parade right from its source? Short's Brewing Company in Bellaire recently added a patio to take the live music and fun outdoors. Photo courtesy of Short's Brewing Company
    Why not get a Soft Parade right from its source? Short’s Brewing Company in Bellaire recently added a patio to take the live music and fun outdoors. Photo courtesy of Short’s Brewing Company

    Short’s Brewing Company
    121 N. Bridge St.
    Bellaire

     

    Located on the northern tip of Keweenaw Peninsula, The Fitz offers not only great food and views of Lake Superior but also one of the deepest craft beer menus in the state. Photo courtesy of The Fitz
    Located on the northern tip of Keweenaw Peninsula, The Fitz offers not only great food and views of Lake Superior but also one of the deepest craft beer menus in the state. Photo courtesy of The Fitz.

    Fitzgerald’s Restaurant (The Fitz)
    5033 Front St.
    Eagle River

     

    The patio of patios, The Little Fleet is an open-air bar in Traverse City that invites food trucks to serve their unique fares to hungry patrons. Photo courtesy of Roaming Harvest
    The patio of patios, The Little Fleet is an open-air bar in Traverse City that invites food trucks to serve their unique fares to hungry patrons. Photo courtesy of Roaming Harvest.

    The Little Fleet
    448 E. Front St.
    Traverse City

    Also worth mentioning:

    East Michigan

    Watch everything from jet skis to freighters passing by on the beautiful St. Clair River from the patio at Rix's on the Rocks in Port Huron. Photo courtesy of Merchant Circle
    Watch everything from jet skis to freighters passing by on the beautiful St. Clair River from the patio at Rix’s on the Rocks in Port Huron. Photo courtesy of Merchant Circle.

    Rix’s on the Rocks
    3136 Military St.
    Port Huron

     

    Catch up with friends, book an event, or just get away for a minute on the new Rooftop Terrace at the Flint Farmer's Market. Photo courtesy of Michigan Homes
    Catch up with friends, book an event, or just get away for a minute on the new Rooftop Terrace at the Flint Farmer’s Market. Photo courtesy of Michigan Homes.

    Flint Farmer’s Market
    300 E. 1st St.
    Downtown Flint

     

    You probably wouldn't guess that the best patio in the area would be at a Ramada, but prepare to be surprised by the hidden gem of Rainmakers in Saginaw. Photo courtesy of Rainmakers
    You probably wouldn’t guess that the best patio in the area would be at a Ramada, but prepare to be surprised by the hidden gem of Rainmakers in Saginaw. Photo courtesy of Rainmakers.

    Rainmaker’s
    3325 Davenport Ave.
    Saginaw

    Do you have a favorite bar patio that didn’t make the list? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll be sure to visit!

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