Taking it outside

Places to sip and savor the flavor of summer
The Score, located at 5301 Northland Dr. NE, features palm trees and live music daily.

Speciation Artisan Ales and Cellar
Located behind some commercial store fronts at 928 Wealthy St. SE in a 100-year-old auto shop, Speciation Artisan Ales and Cellars is one of those places that is in the center of everything, but you have to know exactly where to look for it. It’s behind the Studio Z Textiles Building. It’s an impressive place, both in size and in ambiance. And by ambiance, I mean friendly. I went on a hot day with my dog and sat in a pretty garden area (complete with shaded picnic tables, cornhole boards and water bowls for the dog) where I tried a flight of handcrafted, low intervention, all-natural wine. After sipping “Omen,” a harvest orange, “Innercell,” a red and “Objects,” a “petnat” (short for Pétillant-Naturel, a catch-all term for naturally sparkling wine). I settled on “Iron Bell” as my favorite. This wine has a wonderful bouquet, and though it didn’t taste like a traditional Rosé from the South of France, it was just as delicious, and a very fitting sipper for a summer day. “Geeks Who Drink” trivia night is on Wednesdays and there is live music planned throughout the summer. For beer drinkers there are lagers, sours, IPA’s…an ever-changing lineup of beer, seltzer and wine naturally crafted with a lot of knowledge of science and a little patience. The taproom is open Tuesday – Sunday at 4 p.m., noon on weekends.

Green Well
What’s great about the Green Well? Well, there are a lot of things. First and foremost, it’s casual and dependable. I’ve never had a meal or a drink I didn’t love, or a service experience that rubbed me the wrong way at the Green Well. So, it’s got that going for it, which is nice. The adorable outdoor dining area is another. Situated in the East Hills district, the place offers an umbrella-shaded patio lined with greenery and trees. Situated just off a quaint and relatively quiet on Cherry St., it’s a great place for people watching and to be seen. Most of all the consistently good casual fare makes it a great pick if you’re feeling peckish, thirsty and want to enjoy a summer day outside.

Third Nature Brewing Co
“Where craft beer meets nature” is Third Nature Brewing Co.’s motto and they aren’t just saying that. Located at 7733 Childsdale Ave NE, Rockford, this brew pub is surrounded by nature. Situated a little more than a stone’s throw, but in-between the White Pine Trail and the Rogue River, the large property sits on a wooded lot set back a bit from the road. Run by a “family of beer nerds” (their words, not mine) committed to brewing with the highest quality local ingredients, Third Nature boasts one of the highest efficiency brewing systems around. The beer brewed on site runs the gamut, from standard ales and pilsners to some special concoctions, the elevated bar menu is the same, offering a couple of outside-the-norm surprises. The biergarten is Fido-friendly (dogs must be leashed and well behaved), with firepits and igloos (in the winter) and ample parking for cars and bikes alike. Add this destination to your summer bucket list.

The Score
It’s all fun and games at The Score, located at 5301 Northland Dr. NE. The first time I was made aware of this place I was green with envy. I thought my friend had gone on yet another vacation! Why? She posted a photo on social media that showed her sipping on a big drink underneath a palm tree. There was also some sand, a volleyball court and some water in the background. Come to find out she was at The Score. There will be live music every day of the week throughout the summer, starting at 6 p.m., with a variety of artists too numerous to name. Let the games begin!

The Garage Bar, 819 Ottawa Ave NW.
Located in the heart of the North Monroe business district, this uber casual hangout boasts some of the best chicken strips around. It was also voted Best Bar in Grand Rapids by GR Mag readers, so there’s that. If you want full sun, get there early. The outdoor seating is situated on the east side of the building and once that sun’s over the yardarm, there’s only the food, drinks and overall friendliness of the staff to keep you there. Is that such a bad thing? Oh, and it’s a popular hangout for neighborhood canines, too. For more information, visit the Garage Bar website.

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