Skip to main content

Plan your end-of-summer road trip: The 10 best beer cities to visit

Finish summer strong by visiting one of these 10 beer cities

A wheat beer and a pils are standing on a table in a beer garden
Katja / Adobe Stock

Sure, it’s great to spend time at home during the summer (and early fall) months. This is especially true if you have a nice back deck, patio, or pool (or all of the above) and a well-manicured lawn to play cornhole, ladder ball, or croquet. But, while it’s fun to be home on warm, sunny days, we believe summer deserves at least a few road trips. And while a day trip to a regional amusement park or to a state forest for a hike is great, we’d rather hop in our car and have the trip end with some liquid refreshment instead of nausea-inducing spinning teacups. Specifically, lagers, IPAs, and other thirst-quenching beers.

If you’re a beer fan and anything like us, you’ll want to take a day trip or vacation to a city that is chocked full of breweries, brewpubs, and other places to drink frosty brews. Luckily, since the U.S. is loaded with beer bars, brewpubs, and over 9,000 breweries, there are quite a few towns and cities well-worth hopping in your car and visiting.

We understand that figuring out where to take that road trip (or flight) is no easy task. There are seemingly countless cities with booming beer scenes. Lucky for you, we did the leg work (beer drinking), so you didn’t have to. We dwindled this massive number down to the ten best beer cities to visit this summer. Keep scrolling to see them all. Summer won’t be here for long. Get your beer-centric road trip plans set as soon as possible.

The Boston skyline
Jimmy Woo/Unsplash Jimmy Woo/Unsplash

Boston

Boston is a historic city. If you visit this summer, you can walk along Paul Revere’s Freedom Trail, stop into Faneuil Hall Marketplace, or take in a Red Sox game at iconic Fenway Park. You can also drink a lot of beer thanks to the city’s many beer halls, beer bars, and breweries like Night Shift, Trillium, Aeronaut, Notch, and Lamplighter.

Daniel Guerra/Unsplash Daniel Guerra/Unsplash

San Diego

If you’re an IPA fan (especially West Coast IPAs), you’re going to want to take a trip to San Diego. Not only does it appear to always be warm and sunny there, but you can mix in days at the beach or an afternoon at a Padres game with trips to local beer bars, brewpubs, and beloved breweries like Societe, North Park, AleSmith, Fall, and Pure Brewing Project.

Olivia Hodges/Unsplash Olivia Hodges/Unsplash

Grand Rapids

If you’ve ever seen the TV commercials, you probably already know that Michigan is a summer vacation destination. What you might not have known is that after you spent some time kayaking in Lake Michigan and visiting Mackinac Island, you’re going to want to take a trip to Grand Rapids. This city of less than 200,000 people is home to more than forty breweries. This includes standouts such as The Mitten, Brewery Vivant, City Built, and the wildly popular Founders Brewing Company.

PJ Frederick/Unsplash PJ Frederick/Unsplash

Asheville

The largest city in Western North Carolina is home to one of the most exciting beer scenes in the country. After you have visited The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, take the drive to Asheville. The city is home to myriad beer bars and brewpubs, as well as over forty breweries. Wicked Weed Funkatorium, Highland, Burial, and Hillman are just a few of the many breweries waiting for a visit.

Nick Fewings/Unsplash Nick Fewings/Unsplash

Philadelphia

The “City of Brotherly Love” is home to more than just the Liberty Bell and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The city and surrounding area are also home to more than 115 breweries (yes, you read that right). No stop in Philadelphia is complete with trips to Brewery ARS, Crime & Punishment, Human Robot, Triple Bottom, or Yards Brewing for a burger and a flight of beer.

peter bucks/Unsplash peter bucks/Unsplash

Portland, Oregon

It’s a toss-up between the two Portlands as to which one is the better beer town. While you can’t go wrong with Maine for its ‘Vacationland’ vibe, we tend to believe Portland, Oregon, has a slight advantage when it comes to beer. Can’t-miss breweries include Breakside, Great Notion, Ruse, Wayfinder, and Ex Novo.

Kristina Volgenau/Unsplash Kristina Volgenau/Unsplash

Tampa

You might think of Florida as only a place to travel if you’re going to an amusement park either featuring a boy wizard or a cartoon mouse. But after you visit these destinations, take a trip to Tampa and check out the beer scene. While Cigar City and its range of highly-rated beers is a big draw, the coastal city is also home to Coppertail, Zydeco, 7venth Sun, Angry Chair, and the popular Tampa Bay Brewing Company.

Cedric Letsch/Unsplash Cedric Letsch/Unsplash

Los Angeles

Travelers to Los Angeles might be there for the beaches, sun, and potential of running into a celebrity or two. But they’d be remiss if they didn’t seek out the beer as well. On top of all of the amazing restaurants and beer bars, the “City of Angels” and the surrounding area is home to Monkish, Highland Park, Homage, Golden Road, and Angel City Brewing.

Pedro Lastra/IUnsplash Pedro Lastra/IUnsplash

Chicago

Chicago is another city that’s a great summer road trip destination. The second city is home to two baseball teams, great museums, restaurants, iconic foods like the “Chicago-Style” hotdog, Italian beef, deep dish pizza, and a ton of great breweries. This includes Revolution, Half Acre, Dovetail, Pilot Project, and Off Color.

Acton Crawford/Unsplash

Denver

When it comes to outdoor adventures, you’ll have a tough time beating the appeal of Colorado on a summer or early fall day. But after an afternoon of hiking or mountain biking, you’ll likely want a respite from the heat. We suggest visiting one of Denver’s many beer bars and brewpubs or one of its many great breweries. This includes Wynkoop. Great Divide, TRVE, Call To Arms, and Crooked Stave.

Editors' Recommendations

Christopher Osburn
Christopher Osburn is a food and drinks writer located in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. He's been writing professional
The 10 best banana liqueur cocktails for a taste of the tropics
You and banana liqueur ought to know each other better. Get close with these great cocktail recipes
Banana liqueur cocktail

 

Banana may not jump to mind when you think of the best cocktails, but perhaps it should. With the right liqueur at your side, you can whip something that tastes like a warm breeze in palm tree country. The very best of the bunch play off of complementary spirits like rum and like-minded ingredients like coconut and orgeat.

Read more
The best bars in New York City: Our top picks
Here's where to belly up to the bar in NYC
The Quixote Bar.

If you're known as The City That Never Sleeps, you probably have a few good bars to your name. New York is the ultimate beehive, going strong regardless of the borough or time of day. That makes for a pretty rich NYC bar culture.

Sure, there are trending establishments that draw huge lines—look at you, Double Chicken Please. But there are also excellent dives, tremendous wine bars, and watering holes that make you reexamine the definition of a great cocktail.

Read more
The best whiskey options to make your Manhattan drink recipe even better
Rye whiskey is classic, but not the only option
Manhattan

The Manhattan is one of the most well-known classic cocktails ever created. Like many famous mixed drinks, its history is a bit mysterious. One version of the story says that the drink was made at New York City’s Manhattan Club in the 1870s by a bartender named Iain Marshall. There is a mention of the drink in the later 1800s in a book written by bartender Wiliam F. Mulhall. Regardless of who created it, this whiskey-driven cocktail has stood the test of time.

Whiskey matters
This iconic drink is similar to the Old Fashioned, except instead of whiskey, sugar, water, and Angostura bitters, the Manhattan is made with whiskey, Angostura bitters, and sweet vermouth. While the other ingredients are important, the whisky is the key. The bitters add a bit of spice to the mix, and the vermouth adds a fruity sweetness, but the big, bold flavor is the whisky. The other ingredients are only there so the whiskey can shine through.

Read more