Summer sure has heated up quickly here in the Midwest. I don’t know about you, but even though the weather is extremely steamy, I still like being out and about, enjoying the city and fresh air. That’s why I’m so grateful that we have tons of great restaurant and bar patio spaces in C-U. Outdoor patios give us a chance to have a break from the norm and savor eating and drinking together out in the “great wide open,” as Tom Petty would say. Here are the places that I think you should visit or revisit this summer.

Cowboy Monkey

Cowboy Monkey is known for live music, yummy food, and the comfortable patio seating. There’s always a show or an event going on here. It’s also a really fun place to go and enjoy a late dinner and drinks with friends. The kitchen is cranking out delicious food until midnight every night. If you like to people watch and be in the middle of the action downtown, this is a great choice.

Cowboy Monkey is located at 6 Taylor Street, Champaign, and is open Tuesday through Saturday, 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., and Sunday, 4 p.m. to midnight. 

Blind Pig Brewery

The Blind Pig Brewery not only has delicious brews, it also has one of the best beer gardens in town. The spacious outdoor seating area is paved with brick, and surrounded by bright green trees and ivy crawling up the red brick walls. After dark it’s really beautiful when the strings of lights are illuminated. The bar has Ruination Nation Happy Hour going on right now for the month of July. Like always, you can order half-price drafts from 4 to 6 p.m. Grab one of the cold drafts and head outside to relax and enjoy the great outdoors.

Blind Pig is located at 120 N. Neil Street, Champaign, and is open daily from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Silvercreek Restaurant

Silvercreek has always been one of my family's go-to restaurants for celebrations. Now that I have a family of my own it has turned into a date night spot. I’m delighted that they have a lovely wrap around outdoor patio. It is insanely romantic in the evening sitting out next to the creek and being bathed in light by the warm glow of the greenhouse. Make sure to visit on Happy Hour Wednesdays from 6 to 7:30 p.m. to enjoy free hors d’oeuvres and awesome live music.

Silvercreek is located at 402 N. Race Street, Urbana, and is open Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Sunday through Thursday, 5 to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5 to 11 p.m.; and Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Crane Alley

Crane Alley has scrumptious food and boasts two outdoor seating areas. The patio out front is a nice place to unwind and let the wind blow on your face as you delight in Downtown Urbana’s charm. Around the corner is the brick alleyway lined with patio table and chairs. On a clear day with a blue sky peaking through the two red brick walls, it looks really amazing. If you’re lucky enough to be hanging out around dusk, you’ll get to see the long strands of brilliant lights turned on. It’s a stunning sight!

Crane Alley is located at 115 West Main Street, Urbana, and is open daily from 11 to 2 a.m.

Esquire Lounge

This bar has been a staple of our community for as long as I can remember. It serves consistently good food and cold cocktails and over 50 varieties of beers and ales. Head out the side door and you can enjoy your drink on the cozy patio. It’s graciously shaded by charming trees and flowering bushes. I appreciate how the space is set away from the street just enough, so you don’t feel like you're on the sidewalk. It’s a place to relish the shade and soak up the ever-growing urban atmosphere of Downtown Champaign. On Sundays you can sit outside and soak up the scene while taking advantage of the $1 PBR pints and $2 pineapple tequila.

Esquire is located at 106 North Walnut, Champaign, and open daily from 11 to 2 a.m.

Barrelhouse 34

This is one of the newest hotspots in Downtown Champaign. One of the biggest pulls has been the one and only rooftop deck here in C-U. It’s a small space that has been dressed up with strings of lights and a beautiful water fountain that lights up in the evening. Try to get to the bar before 7 on the weekends cause it fills up really fast. if you can’t snag a spot on the roof don’t worry, they also have an outdoor patio at street level. Grab one of their craft cocktails or draft beers and head outside.

Barrelhouse 34 is located at 34 East Main Street, Champaign, and open Monday through Friday, 3 p.m. to 2 a.m., and Saturday and Sunday, noon to 2 a.m.

Silvercreek patio photo courtesy of Silvercreek Restaurant; all other photos by Rebecca Wells.