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Summer Guide 2013: Charlotte's best patio paradises 

Our favorite places to eat and drink al fresco

From corn hole and crab-legs to cocktails and live music, take your pick of some of the most appealing outdoor spaces across town. "Let's take it outside" never sounded so good.

VBGB (920 Hamilton St.): VBGB has one of the only outdoor beer gardens in town. We're OK with that, as it's pretty awesome. When there isn't a pregaming concert crowd, the patio is the spot for German-style beer drinking and pretzel eating. Plus, there's corn hole and life-sized chess.

Halcyon, Flavors From the Earth (500 S. Tryon St.): This upscale outdoor patio neighbors the entrance to the Mint Museum, offering a great view for people-watching. It also looks over the architecturally enticing St. Peter's Catholic Church, as well as the "Firebird," the 17-foot-tall whimsical glass statue in front of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art.

Mac's Speed Shop (2511 South Blvd.): Aside from beer and barbecue, the patio is the main attraction at Mac's Speed Shop. Whether it's bikers or family, the open-air patio is the place to get together. On Bike Night, general manager Jason Sauve says the typical turnout is anywhere from 75 to 100 bikes. "That's probably one of our biggest draws. People come down here on Wednesday night even if they don't have a bike. They want to see all the action," Sauve says.

JJ Red Hots (1514 East Blvd.): This hot dog joint is central to the quaint Dilworth neighborhood with an upstairs patio that has a great view of the lively sidewalks of East Boulevard. With a keg upstairs, beer is served quick and cold. In addition to dogs and beer, JJ's hosts live music on the patio most weekends.

Leroy Fox (705 S. Sharon Amity Road): Partner Brandon Viebrock says the appeal of Leroy's patio is in the details. "The 150-year-old walls were originally from a barn that cured tobacco for decades; now they frame a gathering of all sorts of diners," he says.

Whiskey Warehouse (1221 The Plaza): Charlotte's skyline might not be sprawling, but it's pretty darn breathtaking atop Whiskey's rooftop patio. Another perk is the full bar, including lots of whiskey.

Dressler's Restaurant (1100 Metropolitan Ave.): "We do a lot of rehearsal dinners, wedding receptions," says manager Erik Draheim. "We just have a really nice view of the city and of the greenway. It's a nice angle, because you can see everything." Even if you're not saying, "I do," the patio at Dressler's is the perfect locale for a romantic date night or cocktails and music during the weekly MetLIVE on Thursday night.

Selwyn Pub (2801 Selwyn Ave.): There's more attraction to Selwyn than a likely Michael Jordan sighting. The casual neighborhood pub has an inviting patio featuring a full bar, fireplaces and outdoor televisions for the sport-obsessed. Many of the lounge areas have their own personal fire pits — a practical touch for the cooler Carolina evenings.

Common Market, South End (1515 S. Tryon St.): Manager Rob Rondelez hears quite often that the CM patio reminds guests of locales in NYC, San Francisco and Europe. "People feel like they're somewhere else. Not in Charlotte," Rondelez says. The eclectic oasis clearly appeals to all. "If you sit here on a Thursday night at six o'clock, you'll have a couple with their 2-year-old, three or four businessmen in shirt and tie, 10 kids that are 23-years-old drinking PBR ... oh yeah, it's a variety all the time." DJs entertain the patio crowd most of the week and there's usually live music on Saturday.

Solstice Tavern (3221 N. Davidson St.): The outdoor space at Solstice feels more like a beach bar than one in the heart of NoDa. One of the larger patios in the neighborhood, Solstice consistently attracts an array of guests day and night. It's the kind of place to go when you're in the mood for corn hole, beers and a Reuben sandwich.

Kennedy's Premium Bar & Grill (366 N. Caswell Road): Aside from the fact that Kennedy's looks out on all the action of the 7th Street area bars and pubs, there's one more detail that makes Kennedy's patio stand out. Every Monday night, people flock underneath the stringed lights on the huge deck and dive into buckets of all-you-can-eat crab legs. Yum.

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