19. Kick Back and Enjoy the Party at an Outdoor Bar!
One of my absolute favorite things about living in Texas, and the greater Austin area in particular, is the huge selection of outdoor venues to hear live music…or just hang out! Back in Chicago, we didn’t have much of this. Chicago is a fantastic city BUT with cold weather for about 6 months of the year and real estate at a premium, most bars and restaurants don’t invest too much money into outdoor areas, understandably. There are some decent patio areas here and there…but that’s about it.
Down in Texas, it’s a whole different story! There is ALOT of land and bar/restaurant owners have learned how to put it to really clever use! Since I moved here, I’ve been fortunate enough to hang outside in some fantastic spots like The Moontower Saloon in South Austin…absolutely love this place! The outdoor area is YUGE and comfortable with tons of fire pits, picnic tables, and even sand volleyball courts! The whole thing is sheltered by a giant canopy of trees…lovely spot for a romantic date, actually. The bands are awesome and they play on a covered outdoor stage, of course. I had my first Pretzel Beer here and it was Amazeballs! And I’m not even a beer drinker!! I normally stick to talking about venues in the suburbs of Austin. But Moontower is so great-I had to include it!
That goes for Steiner Ranch Steakhouse as well. It’s this gorgeous restaurant that sits on a peak overlooking Lake Travis in Austin. It’s fancy on the inside but a more casual scene outside. I’ve been there several times for drinks and apps on the patio and that is definitely the place to be! They have great bands every weekend and you can just hang out in this beautiful space, listen to the music, have drinks and apps, and watch the sun set over the lake. There’s no cover (at least not when I’ve been there) and that goes for many of the places in this area…such a nice bonus and I think a big part of the thing that gets folks out to listen to live music all over this area! Kudos Austin!
Back over by Rt 35, there’s the adorable Cherrywood Coffeehouse, which is not technically a bar but does serve beer and wine. My band played there last Summer and I found the place to be charming! The outdoor area is spacious and shielded to the west by a tall building. So, you’re not baking in the sun while you look at the stage. Good planning! I should mention that Cherrywood and many of these other venues allow dogs, which adds warmth and lots of smiles to the whole scene.
Now, moving on up north to my neck of the woods, there’s Hanovers 2, which I talked about in another blog post. I haven’t been there for their outdoor volleyball yet but plan to check it out soon! If you’re in that Austin/Pflugerville/Round Rock border area, check out Maverick’s outdoor bar! Mav’s is a country dance hall but their outside bar is super fun and has all the outside toys, like beer pong, giant Jenga, etc. When I was there, the DJ played old school 90’s hip hop all night long. So much silly fun!
Just down the road is Wagner’s Backyard. Keep your eyes open for the entrance because it is tucked away behind some used car lots. Wagner’s is another place with a wonderful backyard space where you can see a band, play some games, or just relax and people watch. My girlfriends and I did some serious headbanging here one night not long ago. Isn’t that right, Vanessa Leon and Kelley Cielec Foster? ;P
In nearby Round Rock, we’ve got the Long Branch Saloon, the Brass Tap, and more right along the main drag. More bars are opening up all the time and I am looking forward to checking out Finleys, which is the new bar coming this Summer that will host the Round Rock Chicago Sports Watch Parties for folks who live up north…like me! A little bird told me they will have a sizeable outdoor space and I can’t wait to check it out with all my Chicago transplant pals!
If you’re more into wine, you should check out Wine Sensation, which is a lovely wine bar/restaurant just up the road in Round Rock. As elegant as they are on the inside, they have a surprisingly laid back outdoor setup with tons of room and plenty of ways to kick back and enjoy yourself…and they’re pet friendly too!
We end our tour in Georgetown, which has no shortage of pleasant spots to enjoy the outdoors! There’s Hardtails, which is sort of an upscale biker bar (Hey! The Austin area is weird, remember?) right along Rt. 35. They have a big yard and host concerts out back once a month. They also have live bands inside Thursday through Saturday. If you’re in the mood for a serene escape, try El Monumento! They serve modern Mexican cuisine in a lovely setting. There are lots of big windows in the bar and restaurant so you can gaze out on the patio garden…or just sit outside and soak up the relaxing atmosphere under the giant tree in the middle of the courtyard!
New on the scene is Rentsch Brewery, which recently re-opened right off the Northeast Inner Loop. They have doubled the brewery’s size and their all electric brewing system was built to take advantage of the city’s wind powered energy grid, making their production 100% renewable. Check out the beautiful new taproom and 5000 square foot beer garden!
Finally, don’t miss a stop at Uptown Social. This lively spot attracts a crowd with it’s unique patio experience on an expansive 4,000 square foot wrap-around terrace, offering a sweeping 360 degree views of Old Town Georgetown, the Historic Courthouse Square and the San Gabriel River.
New spots are popping up all over the area weekly so I will have to keep abreast of things and come back to update this post soon. But, suffice it to say, Austin and the surrounding area offers an amazing variety of venues where you can sit out and have some fun under the stars…and you know, they are Big and Bright…deep in the heart of Texas!