Boom Island Park skyline, Minneapolis

Rooftop Bars, Pizza Farms & Other Ways to Dine Outside This Summer

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Minneapolis looms large over Boom Island Park 

Rooftop Bars, Pizza Farms & Other Ways to Dine Outside This Summer

By Caitlin Hannah

Here in Minnesota, we’ve always considered restaurant patios and rooftop bars an essential part of summer. Here are a few fun ways to take advantage of rising temps while visiting the many eateries, bars, breweries, distilleries and wineries that make our state a food & beverage find all year round.

Have a Fancy Picnic 

For maximum summer vibes, bring a couple takeaway containers to a nearby park and take your picnic game up a notch with your favorite restaurant’s signature dishes. Just pack a blanket, place your order for pickup, get your food and find a cozy picnic spot.

Boom Island Park is one of our favorites due to its spacious green space near downtown and the trend-setting local businesses that have made Northeast Minneapolis a destination in its own right. Nearby takeout options include heirloom corn tacos and tostadas from Oro by Nixta, wood-fired pizza from Young Joni, vegan sandwiches from The Herbivorous Butcher, and the something-for-everyone stands at North Loop Galley and Graze.  

Woman with pizza at Pleasant Grove Pizza Farm

Pleasant Grove Pizza Farm / @ingie.e

Head to the Farm...for Pizza

Pizza farms have always been popular hangouts during Minnesota’s warmer months. Pack your picnic blanket, beverages, utensils and napkins, and enjoy the beautiful weather on a farm while you wait for your delicious pie. 

These pizzas are as fresh as you can get and made with ingredients grown right in the fields. Each spot features a rotating menu that highlights whatever’s ripe at the moment. The pizzas are prepared in giant, wood-fired ovens and served piping hot for you to enjoy. While you wait for your dinner, stroll the grounds to see horses, chickens, pigs and other farm animals.

Try Red Barn Farm in Northfield, Pleasant Grove Pizza Farm in Waseca, or Two Pony Gardens in Long Lake.

Water Street Inn in Stillwater

Water Street Inn in Stillwater / Discover Stillwater

Dine in These Open Streets & Reimagined Parking Lots

Restaurants have put a big emphasis on their outdoor spaces over the past couple years, and many cities have expanded sidewalk patios into the street with traffic barriers to keep diners and staff safe. 

In downtown St. Cloud, a stretch of Fifth Avenue was completely reimagined as an outdoor dining area for spots like 7th West Taphouse, House of Pizza and more. 

Main Street in downtown Stillwater is brimming with outdoor dining areas, including plenty of newly expanded patios on sidewalk space. With the opening of its newest rooftop restaurant, Papa’s at the Water Street Inn, Stillwater now boasts 30 spots to dine outside.

Some restaurants have even reimagined their parking lots as outdoor patio spaces. These expanded areas are extensions of the restaurants with temporary awnings, event tents and even exclusive menu items. 

Hit Up Minnesota Breweries, Distilleries & Wineries for Patio Service or To-Go Drinks

Surly Brewing Company is one of Minnesota’s most well known breweries, and their beer garden is always a popular spot. The expansive outdoor area has plenty of space and fire pits for a true summer experience. 

Some other popular outdoor spots include Bad Weather Brewing in St. Paul, Omni Brewing in Maple Grove, Outstate Brewing in Fergus Falls, Little Thistle Brewing in Rochester or Voyageur Brewing Company in Grand Marais. If you’re looking for a spot for you to bring your dog, head to Finnegans Brew Co. or Indeed Brewing in Minneapolis. Or if beer isn’t your thing, try Milk & Honey Ciders in St. Joseph.

Distilleries are also ready to celebrate summer, bringing Minnesota-made spirits and handcrafted cocktails into the, ahem, mix. Norseman Distillery in Minneapolis has a massive outdoor space for in-person imbibing. Or if you prefer to toast at home, Copperwing Distillery and Dampfwerk Distilling in St. Louis Park offer artisanal bottles of nearly every spirit imaginable. Both businesses are located within steps of one another for easy pickup. 

Minnesota’s wineries have some of the most picturesque outdoor spaces for guests, with vast tasting areas that overlook lush vineyards and farmland. Schram Vineyards & Brewery in Waconia has 5 acres of outdoor seating including picnic tables and grassy areas to spread out on an outdoor blanket. Or raise a glass at Carlos Creek Winery in Alexandria, where ample grassy areas, pergolas and fire pits welcome wine enthusiasts. Other popular spots for outdoor sipping are Chankaska Winery in Kasota, Four Daughters Winery near Rochester and Cannon River Winery in Cannon Falls. 

Many businesses require a reservation to enjoy a table — check with each business before planning a visit.

Caitlin Hannah

Caitlin Hannah is Explore Minnesota's social media strategist and resident Disney expert. She grew up spending summer weekends at her family's lake cabin in Detroit Lakes, and brings that "up north" attitude to everything she does. When traveling around the state, she likes trying new restaurants and taprooms, or watching Minnesota hockey.