The sun’s (kind of) out which means one thing: al-fresco drinking, en masse. Luckily, Bristol has an absolute wealth of leafy spots and grassy places for you to sit back, relax and soak up some rays. So, whether you're an ale enthusiast or cider drinker, wine quaffer or lemonade connoisseur, we’ve got something in this list to inspire you this summer.
Nestled slap-bang in the middle of St Werburghs is The Farm, so named because of its location next to, you guessed it, St Werburghs' community farm. An oasis away from the bustle of Gloucester Road, it has the feel of a village country pub, with a sprawling grassy seating area, sheltered terrace and is surrounded on all sides by allotments and hazy tree-lined streets.
Order a (half) pint of Old Rosie and settle down on their lawn and enjoy the sound of cockerels and pigs snuffling around next door. They do a mean sharing platter made from locally-sourced ingredients, and boast a well-chosen selection of cider and ales, including the ubiquitous Bath Gem. You can’t miss it; it’s the one with a bright pastoral scene painted onto its front, and a tree with giant googly eyes in the garden.
The Victoria Park
A stone’s throw from the gorgeous Victoria Park rests a squat red-brick pub of the same name. A true testament to the rapid gentrification of the area, this popular drinking spot attracts a young, middle-class crowd with its cool, pared-back interior and classic "foodie" menu – think sourdough bread and fancy burgers.
Offering gorgeous views over the city, a great big garden and a wood-fired pizza oven, it’s dog friendly and even has a little area for the wee bairns to play in at the foot of the garden, so you can keep an eye on them as you bask in the sunshine with your cask ale.
The Victoria Park
The Grain Barge
The Grain Barge offers some of the best harbourside views in the city. A long bench to the side of this boat pub offers the perfect little sun trap. Pop your feet up on the railings and watch the Bristol sailing club practice over a pint. They have a good selection of bar snacks for you to choose from (olives, pistachios and thick cut crisps), as well as an ambitious menu.
Take advantage of their deal nights or pop in for a very good Sunday lunch on the river. They also have live music on a Friday. Arrive early to find a table as it does get very crowded on-deck when the sun’s shining.
The Spotted Cow
Nestled slap-bang in the middle of Bedminster’s North Street is The Spotted Cow. Boasting the best pub garden this side of the river, it has a cool leafy arbour to offer shade and an extensive grassy area and patio for sun worshipers to top up their vitamin D. They have a classic gastro-pub menu, with excellent burgers to go with their selection of ciders, ales and wines.
They really took things up a notch with Sunday roasts, too – head down on the first Sunday of the month to experience their whole roast suckling pig. Gourmands take note.
The Spotted Cow
The Avon Gorge Hotel
This has got to be about the best darn view in the whole of Bristol, day or night. The view comes with a price tag though; nothing in this place is cheap, but it’s a gorgeous and undoubtedly impressive spot in which to sit on a balmy summer evening, especially if you’ve got newcomers to the city to show around.
It gets pretty busy in the evenings though, and finding a table on a summer weekend evening is almost impossible, unless you arrive early.
Serving booze to Bristol since 1745, this traditional old pub has plenty of character and a no-frills drinking experience, plus you can always find a seat here, despite its scenic location by Bristol’s floating harbour. There’s loads of space, and it gets sunshine right through the day with the promise of gorgeous views over the harbour as the sun sets.
They have a basic selection of beers at reasonable prices with seasonal ales on offer and an extensive "pub grub" menu.
The Golden Guinea
If you’re looking for something a little more intimate, then "Bristol’s Best Backstreet Boozer", The Golden Guinea, is a few short steps away from The Ostrich and has a great little garden, with squishy sofas and a roomy indoor-outdoor lounge to while away a summer’s evening.
These guys are great for events, with live music and graffiti nights; and their Sunday Slouch sessions for those after a well-cooked Sunday roast and a more laid-back vibe. They stay open till midnight on Saturdays.
The Golden Guinea
The Highbury Vaults
St Michael’s hill is really hard work, so you’d better reward yourself at the top with a tipple in this charming boozer. It’s a great "old man" pub that’s decorated as such, with bar clutter, wobbly wooden bar stools and whimsical decorations aplenty, plus a good selection of seasonal ales on tap.
The outside is surprisingly spacious, with a gorgeous leafy arbour, patio heaters and plenty of wooden tables to snuggle around during the summer evenings.
The Lazy Dog
Hidden up in Horfield, away from the bustle of Gloucester Road, lies The Lazy Dog. Boasting a sprawling beer garden with plenty of seating, a covered patio and a comprehensive menu of pub classics (lasagne, burgers, thick-cut chips) and slightly more gourmet sharing platters at mid-range prices.
They also have a great selection of seasonal cask ales and ciders. Try the chilli and ginger cider if they have it on tap – it’s the perfect accompaniment to warm summer evenings. They also make a good coffee, and have a small play area in the garden to keep children entertained for an hour.
The Old Duke
A stone’s throw north of the river lies Bristol’s famous jazz pub, The Old Duke. Named after Duke Ellington, it serves up jazz and beer to thirsty Bristolians seven nights a week. Its central location on the picturesque cobbled King Street sees a heavy footfall through the area, with a wide range of clientele popping their head in to take a gander at the band, but you can usually find a bench or step to sit on while you enjoy your cider on a summer’s evening.
Head down on a Monday night to see their longest-standing resident band, the Severn Jazzmen, who’ve been playing to revellers on King Street since 1967.
Flickr: Broken Taco
Check out the best pubs in Bristol.