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Best Places in LA for Outdoor Cocktails

October 18, 2021

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With weather that’s perfect for drinking outside nearly year-round, LA has a host of amazing spots for drinks with outdoor seating. Let’s look at some of the best.


The Venice Beach Boardwalk

There may be no better place for people-watching in The Big Orange than on the Venice Boardwalk. And there are a lot of outdoor spots to enjoy drinks while doing it! Just a few are:

  • The Venice Ale House has one of the area's biggest selection of craft beers.
  • The Waterfront has been hosting some of Venice's happiest happy hours on its patio since the mid-90s.
  • The Sidewalk Cafe is a sprawling open-air spot with specialty drinks like their Mississippi Mimosa and Tito's Venice Mule with vodka, lime juice, and ginger beer.
  • And make your way to the northern tip of the strip to the Venice Whaler, serving since 1944, a spot where famous folks going back to members of the Beach Boys and the Beatles have been known to knock back a few.


Further Seaside Sipping

  • Paradise Cove. While there are lots of places to enjoy cocktails by the beach, nearly none let you drink on the beach. Except for the Paradise Cove Beach Café, set on a private beach in Malibu that may be the perfect place for a piña colada at sunset.
  • The Malibu Pier. While you're up the coast, you can check out the eateries on the Malibu Pier, a historical structure dating to 1915 with two restaurants that each offer alfresco dining over the water. You'll find extensive wine lists and Instagram-perfect scenery at the iconic locale.
  • Big Dean’s. Back down in Santa Monica, enjoy a taste of Westside history at Big Dean’s Ocean Front Cafe, a no-nonsense bar that's been serving in the shadow of the Santa Monica Pier since the 1970s.


Downtown Rooftops

  • Cha Cha Cha. With magnificent views of the Downtown LA skyline from an Arts District perch, Cha Cha Cha offers an oasis-like experience with palm trees and a shaded bar that's lively with mezcal-lovers most days.
  • Upstairs at the Ace. Exuding the feel of a posh open-air home, Upstairs atop the Ace Hotel is a trendy urban getaway with two terraces and stunning views of Downtown LA. During the day it's perfect for poolside chilling and at night Upstairs becomes a scene with DJs and live music.
  • Broken Shaker. Color is key to the success of Broken Shaker at the Freehand Hotel, from its colorfully garnished cocktails to the bright shade umbrellas and vibrant touches throughout the palm-dotted space. Order a Supernova Lava Burst and enjoy the sunset amid skyscrapers.


Melrose Ave Outdoors

  • Gracias Madre's outdoor patio has long been a thing of legend for tequila highballs under open skies. And during COVID days the eatery extended its alfresco service to the sidewalk. Plus, you can get drinks for a deal during their daily happy hours and on Taco Tuesday!
  • Severance Wine Bar. Settle down at a sidewalk table to watch the street scene or enjoy some fine wine on one of the two patios. Champagne weekend brunches under the California sky are simply glorious.
  • Melrose Umbrella Co. During the coronavirus pandemic, this low-key cocktail bar had just limited sidewalk seating. But with their full reopening, the Melrose Umbrella Co. has a revamped courtyard with seating for nearly 40 patrons. Try one of their tiki-style concoctions like the King Kamehameha with a mix of rums and tropical fruits.


Iconic LA Venues

  • Hollywood Bowl. Spring for a box by the stage or go with back-bench seating. Either way, you can take advantage of the generous bring-your-own-booze policy at the Hollywood Bowl. Share some wine and enjoy music under the stars for a quintessential LA experience.
  • Santa Anita Park. Here's another landmark venue where you can have a cocktail by the action—at apron tables along the track. But the big partying and hearty imbibing with a raucous crowd at Santa Anita is with the folks on the green acres of the Infield (sorry, no BYOB here).
  • Getty Center. Beyond the stunning architecture, jaw-dropping views, and priceless works of art, the Getty Center impresses by offering beer and wine on its lush grounds. And go picnic-style if you like. While you can't bring your own booze, you can bring food and non-alcoholic drinks to enjoy on the central lawn.
  • Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens. Can you tip a few at the zoo? You bet! And we're not just talking about the popular Brew at the Zoo beer festival. There are lots of outdoor spots to enjoy cocktails at the 133-acre refuge, such as the Mahale Café, Zoo Grill, Reggie’s Bistro, and served from carts all across the complex.

For many, easing back and enjoying outdoor cocktails is one of the best things to do in Los Angeles. So, pull up a seat for a patio cocktail, and make some time to sip some outdoor wine in the California sunshine.

Written by William McCleary for Knockaround.

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