Unique Outdoor Drinking and Dining Experiences in Mystic Country Last Updated: March 2021

If you had told me that one day I’d be googling “where to dine in an igloo” and bundling up to go eat outside in the dead of New England winter, I would have never believed it, yet here we are! Restaurants, wineries and breweries have really stepped up their game in these “unprecedented times” and given a whole new meaning to the phrase “outdoor dining.” From firepits to igloos to BYOB (blankets that is!), the following places are all ready and waiting for your arrival. Just don’t forget your scarf, hat, and mask of course.

As always, be sure to check with each location before making plans as hours and details may change due to COVID-19.

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Kokomo's Restaurant & Beach Bar, Old Lyme

A beach cabana, only winterized? Yes, please! Kokomo's Restaurant, a sweet spot located on Sound View Beach and normally favored in the summer months has transformed into a winter haven for year-round beach lovers. Their motto is, “The Place to Beach… All Year Long,” and with their toasty heated personal cabanas, they have the right idea. Watching a sunset on the beach, through plexiglass, never gets old, and the fire pits, covered patio, and private greenhouse-like structures create the perfect cozy ambiance.  Kokomo’s is casual and kid-friendly yet serves up some great food and beverages including raw bar seafood towers, a to-die-for Lobster Mac and Cheese, fish and chips, and more. When it comes to libations, there are plenty of decadent cocktails to transform you into an instant-vacation mode. Try the Koko Loco Ultimate Margarita or the Soundview Rum Punch for starters.

Photo credit: kokomosrestaurant

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Hop Culture Farms & Brew Co., Colchester

Once you have kids you realize that “family-friendly” breweries and wineries are pretty much like Disney World for us adults. We get to socialize and enjoy adult beverages while our littles get to run around wild and free amongst sprawling vineyards or farmland? Sounds like heaven.

The owners of Hop Culture have young children themselves, so the brewery is extra family-friendly, and pet-friendly too! While still relatively new, this super unique spot is already getting rave reviews on the craft beer scene. Both a farm and a brewery, they grow their own hops. On any given weekend, expect food trucks and during non-covid times, plenty of events including trivia and live music. They even recently hosted a snowshoeing excursion around their property complete with a hike around the farm and some beer along the way.

Their patio area is currently divided into socially distant plots, perfect for a family to gather safely outdoors, sample some beer and (since current CT law requires it) enjoy a nosh or two along with it from one of the visiting local food trucks. They have a rotating schedule of beers on tap, with names that are almost as good as the beer itself. Case in point, “Dad Bod,” Crocs with Socks” and “Kids Table King.” Besides whatever your usual preference might be (IPA, Pale Ale, Stout) you’ll definitely want to try the “Knockin’ Boots,” which is a creamy, dreamy chocolate peanut butter stout.

Photo credit: hopculturefarmsandbrewco

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Jealous Monk, Mystic

Igloos are the name of the game here at Jealous Monk, where families and friends can gather for a frosty outdoor experience. This well-known beer garden in Olde Mistick Village is a favorite destination of many locals, serving craft beer on-tap along with burgers, seafood, house-made sausage, and other food that pairs well with a cold one. They also serve a mean Sunday Brunch. Their igloos must be booked in advance online, which can be a bit of a process, but there are also some outdoor firepits available on a first-come, first serve basis.  The ambiance and novelty of the igloos are definitely worth a visit, and you really can’t go wrong when a Charcuterie Pretzel is involved. For beer, go with one of their many local brews, the Two Roads Clementine Gose being a personal favorite.

Photo credit: jealousmonkct

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The Crossings Restaurant & Brew Pub, Putnam

Located in the historic Putnam Train Station, The Crossing Restaurant brew pub boasts a heated outdoor patio with prime trainspotting views, and as the name implies, plenty of beer on tap! Although the train station is no longer in use, the building dates back to 1907 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The trains rolling by is a nice touch, especially with kids in tow.  After grabbing a bite, you can certainly make an afternoon of it by strolling Putnam’s historic Main Street and checking out some of the shops, galleries and boutiques in town. Cap off your visit with a stop at one of the largest antique shops in Connecticut, Antiques Marketplace.