Nothing says good weather like finally – finally – being able to eat and drink outside. I mean, I did see people brunching it up on a patio in Milwaukee in January, but it was freezing.

Crazy Wisconsinites aside, seating in a patio is a simple thing, really. But sometimes it’s the simple things in life that are the most enjoyable.

With patio season nearly upon us, I wanted to highlight some of my favorite places to sip on a cocktail, beer, or whatever it may be, that will let you take in some fresh air with your drink.

Forager Brewing Co.

This nationally recognized brewpub (barrel-aged stouts like Magnus and Nillerzzzzz are no joke) calls its patio an “urban garden.” An apt description. Not only is there greenery everywhere, but plenty of vegetables and even centennial hops can be found growing in the hideaway. It’s big enough that even when it begins to fill up for music shows, you feel like you have some breathing room. But it’s just cozy enough to feel intimate and welcoming.

Grand Rounds Brewing Co.

Historic Third Street is pretty buzzworthy. A friend from the Cities was quite impressed with it as we sat in the newly revamped Grand Rounds patio space. It showed her that Rochester does have a fun scene to dive into. It can be a hectic stretch, but the new seating is perfectly situated for you to enjoy a pint. The Grand Rounds logo bike racks are also a nice touch.

Hefe Rojo

This patio is an alley that feels a little magical (like Diagon), but with a more Day of the Dead-ish vibe than a wizard-y one. What makes it a fun one to sit in is that you still get the energy from people traveling down the busy sidewalk, but there’s still relative privacy afforded by three walls and a canopy of banners strewn across the two buildings you’re nestled between.

Whistle Binkies on the Lake

Maybe it comes down to the sentimental value (I had just gotten hired for a new job after a layoff when I first sat here), but Binkies on the Lake is one of my favorite places to have a beer. It may be quite simple just sitting above a miniature lake, but the beer really sets the place apart. There’s nothing like buying Binkies out of its Double Dry Hop Pseudo Sue, then settling in for a long visit. We sat there for hours reveling in the new good feelings, our bottles resting in a wine chiller.

Chester’s Kitchen + Bar

Enjoying a cocktail here means a rainbow of colorful flowers, the constant ambient noise from Peace Fountain, and a seat in a partially secluded, but lively section of downtown. Plus, it’s the one patio where I seem to run into plenty of chatty visitors. That usually has to do with the proximity to Mayo Clinic, which means you’ll encounter visitors eager to find out more about Rochester.

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