Sports look completely different right now, and those glorious rituals of meeting up with friends and fellow fans to cheer and celebrate as one have changed a little as well. But thankfully they haven't gone away as outdoor patio spaces and beer gardens – both old classics and those newly created – continue to bring people together while keeping them safe, social distanced and in an open air place.
Here's a list of Milwaukee bars and locales with patios and outdoor set-ups perfect for being safe while also cheering so loud that Aaron Rodgers and the Packers can hear you up in Green Bay. And let us know in the comments about other local bars with great outdoor arrangements for enjoying the big game.
After months of being stuck in your backyard, why not let this Bay View bar's leisure lawn take over hosting duties? An already massive yard filled with seating of all kinds, The Backyard remodeled a bit during the downtime this spring and summer, and renovated itself into a container bar atmosphere complete with fun patio games, a cute outdoor bar and, yes, television screens to watch the big games – including a giant projection screen near the back of the space for the particularly big games.
Fiserv Forum may be shut down for the time being, but you can still bring that big-game energy with your fellow Brew City enthusiasts in The Beer Garden. Picnic tables have been traded out for social distanced tables, but the giant screen (complete with a clear roof to protect from any bad weather) is still there and unmissable along with tasty brews from the nearby stand, scrumptious food delivered to your table by Cream City Cluckery and the blissful atmosphere of fans enjoying a win together. It's perfect safe game day fun – minus one thing: Seriously, who do I need to call about renaming this place "The Deer Garden"?
Tucked away across the street from Catalano Square in the Third Ward, Club Charlie's smartly expanded into the street amid the COVID chaos of 2020, adding a tented patio space and umbrella bar atmosphere, and creating more room in a distanced outdoor environment. And best of all, Charlie's added a TV screen outside as well, making it the ideal spot to grab a brew and a view of the Bucks, Brewers, Packers and more. There's few sports bars in the Third Ward, but with this outdoor addition, Club Charlie's had leapt to the top of the list.
Good City? More like good place to watch the Packers game, amirite? OK, so that was painful – but don't let my awful wordplay get in the way of checking out Good City Brewing's lovely Downtown taproom, especially for the big game thanks to numerous TV screens and no lack of outdoor seating, from patio tables on the first floor to the rooftop space above. There may be no fans in Lambeau Field right now, but you can still bring the energy and fandom of live sports (plus, not to mention, enjoy a refreshing local brew) by stopping at Good City.
For Milwaukee sports fans, this Tosa hot spot needs no introduction or elaboration ... but I'll do it anyways. Leff's continues to rule the sports hangout world in Milwaukee thanks to its cheer-filled atmosphere and delicious bar grub – including a plethora of wing flavors from devilish spicy to classic flavors to unique combinations. But what really helps it stand out is its lovely patio space. With open air, comfortable tables and screens all over, it's a perfect place to soak in a summer night as well as a win for the Bucks, Brewers, Forward Madison or whatever local squad you're cheering. Plus, it's got luck right in its name – an ideal omen for cheering on you favorite team.
This New Berlin staple made the most of its downtime, opening up an outstanding tent addition outside for those not ready to head indoors quite yet. The big bonus patio has brought back live music, games of all kinds, happy (distanced) crowds and, most important of all, sports viewing parties, as the new tent comes complete with several 65-inch television screens tucked inside. If you're looking for a place to watch A-A-Ron and the Pack pursue another NFC Championship visit – and beyond – Matty's is a comfortable spot to grab a drink and cheer with your fellow fans.
The MECCA Sports Bar and Grill
1134 N Vel R. Phillips Ave., (414) 908-0401
If you're gonna watch the big game somewhere, you might as well do it at a bar and grill named after an iconic sports arena, right? Located in the shadow of Fiserv Forum, The MECCA currently offers two floors of distanced patio seating with so many television screens scattered throughout the restaurant – from the regular TVs outside to the mammoth signature screen above the indoor bar – that it's practically impossible to miss whatever game you're watching. Here's to food, refreshments and hopefully football domination.
Nomad is famous for its high-energy soccer atmosphere, but you should definitely kick it over to the Brady Street staple for the rest of your outdoors sports entertainment needs as well. The Nomad's outdoor patio space got a bit of an update over the spring and summer, now featuring open-air social distanced seating and the new food options like burgers, tacos, street eats, slushes and more to help wash down another win for the good guys. No matter your sport of choice, Nomad has it covered in its uncovered party patio.
This Tannery Row taproom may be most known for its sports from across the pond, but Red Lion Pub is no slouch when it comes to hosting the party for sporting events besides soccer. The cheerful British-style pub offers tasty grub and, most important of all, a comfortable rooftop patio space complete with a projection TV perfect for enjoying the big game from basketball, baseball or whatever brand of football you prefer.
750 N. Jefferson St., (414) 808-1588
I mean, if it's got "sport" right there in the name, it has to be good, right? And SportClub is good, featuring delicious bar eats and a wide variety of beers and cocktails. But most important, they've got televisions everywhere with the game on – including its cozy outdoor patio space, ideal for taking in sports while safe and social distanced. And as an added bonus, grab some grub to go with SportClub's new pick-up window offering street eats you can snag for some tasty pre-game or postgame culinary celebrations.
An icon of Milwaukee sports enjoyment, Steny's is always on the list if you're looking for somewhere to catch the Bucks, Brewers or some hot hockey playoff action on the ice. But while the sports (and drinks and food) have always gotten the attention, it's easy to forget that Steny's has a really great patio space in the back perfect for enjoying the big game – in any weather as the open air space comes covered, so there'll be no rain delays for your sports-watching enjoyment, something key as the seasons change during this strange year.
This gastrogrub and beer bar tucked in between Riverwest, the East Side and Water Street has an outdoor patio complete with a lovely view of the river ... but most importantly a lovely view of Aaron Rodgers and company stomping through the NFL on their television screens. Or the Brewers crushing the rest of the major leagues. Or just about any sport! And even if you're not a sports fan, you've got a gorgeous view of the river to savor along with your suds and supper. So whether you're lounging or getting loud for your team, Stubby's deck is "gastro-great." (OK, we'll leave the puns to them.)
Third Space Brewing
1505 W. St Paul Ave., (414) 909-2337
Tucked away in the Menomonee Valley, Third Space is a first-rate place to watch the first-place Packers – the brewery's main colors are green, after all. But most importantly, they've got screens playing the game outside on their cozy, well-spaced and seating-rich beer garden space, perfect for watching Green Bay. Plus, you can bring in outside food to snack on while the Pack snacks on the opposing team's defense. And, most importantly, Third Space offers pints upon pints of delicious and unique craft brews to drink up – complete with $1 off your pour if you're wearing Packers swag. No matter the final score, heading to Third Space is a win.
This Riverwest bar is most known for the live in-person sports bumping and setting all over its volleyball courts, but it also makes a comfortable place to watch the big games taking place on TV as well. The Tracks Tavern has a big patio screen regularly blasting the Bucks, Brewers and Packers while you enjoy some tasty bar food as well as the open air with your fellow fans. And maybe if you're feeling like working off some of that beer and bar grub, you can hit celebrate the latest local win with a win of your own on the volleyball sand. Or you can just sit and relax too. We're big proponents of the latter.
One of the newer faces on Old World Third Street, Uncle Buck's is so close to the action in the Beer Garden, you can actually get in on action. In addition to its parklet patio space out front and its rooftop area, the multi-tiered Old World Third Street bar also features some limited outdoor seating facing the now-active Deer District alleyway, giving customers a great seat close to the cheering crowd and the big game on the Beer Garden's even bigger screen. It's basically the best of both worlds: the energy and atmosphere of being in the Beer Garden combined with the cozy comfort and distance of being at Uncle Buck's.
Who's on third? We'll leave that question to Abbott and Costello, but if you're searching for a place to watch the big game, the answer is easy: Who's On Third, the Old World Third Street hotspot. Thanks to its parklet patio space, you can drop by and grab some of this popular spot's tasty pub grub – including crave-able wings, curds, burgers, brats and more – while enjoying a nice day out and, most importantly, the game thanks to Who's On Third's newly installed television screen outside. Space, supper and sports: a perfect combination and the answer to all your fandom needs. The only question left is: If Who's on third, where's What and I Don't Know?
The Yard at The Iron Horse Hotel
500 W. Florida St., (414) 374-4766
Like a little glamour with your big game? The Yard, found at the nationally recognized Iron Horse Hotel, is likely the swankiest patio to be found on this list, with its gorgeous and well-appointed yard set-up – but don't hold that against the place. It's still a perfect place to relax and bunker down with a drink and your fellow fans to watch a game thanks to a tasty menu of food, good beverages from cocktails to craft brews and new big screen televisions placed around the social distanced outdoor space.
As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.
When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.