California’s famously good weather, stunning scenery, and world-renowned culinary scene create the perfect conditions for exceptional outdoor dining. Thousands of restaurants across the state offer al fresco options, including plenty of waterfront eateries. For a truly one-of-a-kind Golden State experience, try one of these 12 patios ranging from sand-on-your-toes to full-tilt glamour, listed from north to south.
Albion River Inn Restaurant, Albion
The Albion River Inn Restaurant is proof that you don’t have to head to the ends of the earth for an edge-of-the-world feel. Located in beautiful Mendocino County, a three-hour drive from San Francisco, the restaurant delivers epic vistas of the rugged North Coast. Tuck into a plate of pan-roasted cod atop truffle-scented rice as you watch waves crash on the rocky sea cove. The glass-paneled dining room provides an al fresco feel even indoors, but head to the patio for the very best views.
The Boathouse on the Pier, South Lake Tahoe
South Lake Tahoe is home to several spectacular on-the-water restaurants—but The Boathouse does one better, offering an over-the-water dining experience. Located at the end of a 1,000-foot-long pier at the Beach Retreat & Lodge, this casual spot serves American classics and umbrella-topped drinks. Nab a seat on the deck to gaze at towering Mount Tallac and the crystal lake below.
The Firehouse Restaurant, Sacramento
Housed in a 19th-century firehouse, this restaurant is a long-standing Sacramento favorite. Locals know to book a table in the ivy-walled courtyard where exposed brick, wrought-iron details, and shaded trees create a New Orleans-style vibe. Chef Stephen Ashley works closely with farmers to craft his five-course tasting menu marked by decadent bites (think lobster, caviar, and foie gras). Oenophiles take note: The wine cellar houses more than 15,000 bottles.
RH Yountville, Napa Valley
Restoration Hardware has created a global brand synonymous with elevated style, so it’s no surprise that the outdoor patio at its Napa Valley food, wine, art, and shopping space, RH Yountville, is pure designer eye candy. Think knotted olive trees, statement chandeliers, perfectly manicured bushes, and a roaring outdoor fireplace. A new American menu from chef Brendan Sodikoff includes dishes like crispy local artichokes, imported burrata with charred sourdough, and, of course, an extensive local wine list.
Tony’s Seafood Restaurant, Marshall
If it’s oysters you’re after, you can’t get them much fresher than at Tony’s Seafood Restaurant in Marin County. The on-the-water seafood spot overlooks the same bay where Hog Island harvests its briny bivalves, just over a mile down the road. Don’t worry about finding the perfect seat—the railroad-style patio ensures every diner is ocean-adjacent. If you’ve never tried your bivalves barbecued, this is the place to do it. Choose from Tony’s original or chipotle-bourbon sauce.
Foreign Cinema, San Francisco
The fantastical patio at Foreign Cinema has remained a mainstay in the San Francisco dining scene for more than 20 years. Enter along a red carpet to find a sprawling outdoor space complete with twinkling lights and classic movies projected onto a massive screen. Request one of the vintage drive-in style speakers for the table if you’d like to really listen in. Otherwise, enjoy the ambience over a platter of local oysters, ahi ceviche, and yam chips, or a four-peppercorn duck breast with “quacklings.”
Zaytoon, Santa Barbara
Step onto Zaytoon’s patio to be transported from downtown Santa Barbara to a sparkling, secret garden straight out of a fairytale. The Lebanese restaurant’s cavernous walls are draped with hanging plants and dangling lights, water cascades from a three-tiered fountain, and each table transforms into its own firepit. Mezza options like beef sambousek and batata harra are perfect for sharing. Keep an eye out for belly dancers as they shimmy their way past.
This Burbank institution has been named one of Travel + Leisure’s “Best Date Spots in America” for good reason. Nearly every seat on Castaway’s wraparound patio gives its diners an unobstructed view of L.A. in all its glory. Carnivores will find the hillside restaurant especially intriguing thanks to steaks dry aged in the in-house aging room. Book a table just before sunset to watch the show next to a cozy private fireplace.
Lady Byrd Café, Los Angeles
What better way to start the day than with a cappuccino served in a private greenhouse? Lady Byrd Café offers diners a whimsical patio experience with individual covered conservatories decorated with birdcages, rose-glass goblets, fresh flowers, and white tablecloths. Drink to your health with a turmeric-plantain smoothie at this Echo Park spot. Pastries and bread are trucked in daily from Suzanne Goin’s Larder Baking Co.
Chi Chi at the Avalon, Palm Springs
Located in downtown Palm Springs, the Avalon Hotel features a hidden oasis in its chic poolside restaurant Chi Chi. Crafted by celebrity decorator Kelly Wearstler, the mid-century-meets-Spanish decor creates a sense of breezy luxury. Book a table for brunch and sip water straight from a coconut under the shade of a fig tree–dotted cabana.
Bottaia Winery, Temecula
Bottaia imports the relaxed glamour of a northern Italian beach club to Temecula Valley. The most recent addition to the Ponte Winery family, the restaurant specializes in Old World varietals like Arneis and Montepulciano. Choose from two equally stunning patios for your wine-and-bites experience. The Pool Cafe + Cocktail Bar, open mid-April through November, delights with imported tile accents, private cabanas, and a splash pad for kiddos. The exclusive Members Only Terrace delivers sweeping vineyard views and outdoor couches.
Duke’s, La Jolla
A 13,000-square-foot love letter to surf legend Duke Kahanamoku, this seaside eatery in La Jolla serves up fanciful cocktails alongside Hawaiian-inspired fare. Head to the two-story patio for sweeping ocean views. With only a low-slung, all-glass barrier separating you from the waves, you’ll get the sense of surfing—all while enjoying a passion-orange-guava Mai Tai and a plate of sticky ribs. You can also find Duke’s outposts in nearby Huntington Beach and Malibu.