For some people, the first steps on the roadmap out of lockdown were to the clothes shops, or to the hairdressers, or to the gym. But for many others, it was to the beer garden. As outdoor hospitality opened back up for the first time in 2021, the importance of the beer garden was felt intensely, and like everywhere around the country, thousands of York folk flocked to their favourite outdoor spot.

Of which there are many. Whilst the shape of the city’s ancient streets and buildings don’t immediately offer spacious exteriors, there are both hidden gems making the most of small spaces and open spots with large expanses to be found. Here are a few of our favourites for you to locate…

The Golden Ball – York’s first community cooperative pub is not only an admirable project, it is a finely run alehouse in a grade II listed building with a lovely backyard beer garden. What better way to lend your support to the cooperative than by selflessly drinking in the sun? 

The Phoenix Inn – This charming little pub inside York’s centre has a timeless feel of simple comforts. Whilst the interior oozes character and invites you to warm by the open fire, there is also a sun trap beer garden of benches at the back, which aptly looks out onto the historic city walls. 

The Star Inn The City – A truly relaxing setting on the edge of Museum Gardens and beside the River Ouse, The Star Inn The City has an enviable position. Their sweeping terrace complements this, on which you can sit back and enjoy a fine wine or cold beer with excellent local food. 

The Minster Inn – A fine example of one of York’s traditional ancient alehouses, The Minster Inn is also not afraid to move with the times. That means craft beer, stone baked pizza, and a cleverly adapted outside to create a surprisingly accommodating seating area. 

The Habit – There are a good few places to sit out and take in the awesome view of York Minster, and The Habit’s outdoor area does so from a position of elevation. One of York’s few rooftop terraces, this is a unique spot to sip their spirits and raise your own. 

The Whippet Inn – The Whippet Inn is a modern classic, serving quality British food and drink in a handsome setting of dark wood and dim lighting. The warm interior has been inventively replicated to an unlikely outdoor area too, where a covered secret garden takes the grown up decadence into the open air. 

Brew York – The tap room for this excellent city brewery have turned their car park into a welcoming beer garden. Brewer’s Yard serves onsite ale and Japanese food in a casual yet quality setting. 

Spark – A social enterprise of small independent businesses in a shipping container makes Spark a unique and varied proposition. Choose from the several great food and drink units and take in the social buzz from their communal outdoor benches.

There are of course more places in York’s centre to sit happily outside, and many great beer gardens to discover in the suburbs too. And exploring the whole of YO will take you to market town courtyards, and to pubs on the moors, and to drinks by the sea. We’ll see you there, but only if we ever leave these central pub gardens that have been so sorely missed. 

Images: Spark, The Whippet Inn, The Phoenix Inn, The Habit