I learned two things very quickly when I visited Munich, Germany, last year: a liter of beer is heavy to lift, and the beer gardens are the place to be. A traditional Bavarian Biergarten is a cultural gathering place where people can socialize, have a bite to eat, and enjoy a few beers. Once I had visited the ones in Bavaria, I was hooked: I started a new quest to discover the best beer gardens that America had to offer.
Since the late 1990s, America has experienced a beer boom with the onslaught of craft beer, and with it came an expansion of American beer gardens. Filled with picnic tables or communal tables and games like cornhole, American beer gardens are modern, well-kept outdoor spaces where friends can gather and enjoy a great beer outside. Some feature traditional German beer, some focus on craft beer; some have an extensive bottle beer list and some only serve tap beers. They all have one thing in common: to continue the German beer garden tradition and bring people together.
We took a look at the best beer gardens that featured draft and bottled beers, served up craft and German brews, offered burgers and brats, and most importantly: had the greatest outdoor spaces.
Plan a road trip this summer using our handy map, with the best beer gardens already in place.
1. Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden
Queens, New York
Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden has been around since before Prohibition, making it one one of the oldest beer gardens in America. Established in 1910, this Czech and Slovak beer hall has been keeping beer garden tradition alive in Queens for over a century.
What began as a farm transformed into an outdoor drinking space with picnic tables and trees. In addition to traditional Belgian and German brews, Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden features a hard-to-find Czech beer tap list.
2. Frankford Hall
Frankford Hall is Philly's premier beer garden brought to you by Stephan Starr, the restauranteur that opened Buddakan and Morimoto. It mixes the best of German Biergarten atmosphere with American modern, contemporary architecture.
The tap list features many German offerings, as well as a few American craft beers. The food menu is authentic, featuring schnitzel and strudels.
3. garden district Beer Garden
What used to be Standard has transformed into garden district, a hopping beer garden with a backyard barbecue vibe.
With a food menu featuring pulled pork sandwiches and burgers, you can enjoy traditional German Hofbrau beers on tap as well as American craft beers.
4. Bay Street Biergarten
Charleston, South Carolina
Bay Street Biergarten combines the best elements of a traditional German beer garden with the flavor and history of the South. This "Bavarian-Inspired, Southern-Made" beer garden is located in the rebuilt Wilmington Railroad Depot, a location that was destroyed during the Civil War.
Enjoy a selection of local craft beer from their 30 taps, as well as imported bottles like the German Bitburger pilsner. Their food selection is truly fusion inspired, including fried alligator alongside traditional brats.
5. Easy Tiger
Easy Tiger is one of the best beer gardens around. Their outdoor space features a beautiful patio along the canal with ample seating and ping pong tables. Their 30 rotating taps feature American craft beers, as well as a limited selection of rare bottles like Sierra Nevada Barrel Aged Bigfoot barleywine.
While the beer selection doesn't feature traditional German ales, their food menu is filled with homemade Bavarian pretzels, signature cheese sauce, and sandwiches piled high with corned beef and pastrami.
6. Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens
San Diego, California
Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens is one of the most beautiful beer gardens in America. Adjacent to their 12,000-square-foot restaurant is a one-acre organic garden, complete with fire pits, flowering plants, olive trees, and a koi pond.
Wander the gardens with one of their 40 draft beers, which features Stone Brewing Co. and other California craft beer, or choose from the selection of 100 bottles of American and Belgian beer. In addition to their ample beer list, the food menu features locally sourced, organic options.
San Francisco, California
Zeitgeist is a Mission District favorite for San Francisco locals. Their large, outdoor space has the feel of a traditional beer garden, with long wooden tables sitting you next to strangers that become good friends by the end of the evening.
Their 64 taps mostly pour American craft beers from California and the Pacific Northwest, including the favorite Trumer Pils from Berkeley. Food selection includes hamburgers, home fries, and brats.
Prost!, which means "cheers" in German, is a lively beer garden in the Pacific Northwest.
Located on Mississippi Avenue in Portland, Oregon, Prost! boasts large communal tables and traditional pork sausage like bratwurst on the food menu. All of the beers on the beer list are from Germany, like Hofbrau, Bitburger, and Spaten.
9. Lowry Beer Garden
Lowry Beer Garden is an 8,000 square-foot space located in a renovated airplane hanger. Their Oktoberfest-style picnic tables can hold up to 350 guests, making this a huge gathering place in the center of Colorado's booming craft beer industry.
The rotating tap list mainly focuses on Colorado craft beer, such as New Belgium Brewing and Avery. The food menu features burgers and some not-so-traditional brats, like Elk Jalapeño Cheddar.
10. Sheffield's Beer & Wine Garden
Sheffield's Beer & Wine Garden is the place to be if you like beer and barbecue. You'll find pulled pork sandwiches that are smoked for 14 hours before they are shredded to order, huge slabs of ribs, and homemade chips with Cajun dipping sauce.
All delicious food is served alongside a huge selection of craft beers on tap, as well as Belgium bottled beer like the Duchesse de Bourgogne, a Flander's style sour ale from Brouwerij Verhaeghe.