Perfect for pre-gaming Red Rocks concerts or enjoying an al-fresco lunch after a Mount Falcon Park hike, Morrison’s quarter-mile shopping and dining drag is brimming with cheery patios. So no matter what pursuit brings you to the charming Front Range town, don’t miss a chance to stroll Bear Creek Avenue and get your sunny courtyard fix at five of our favorite stops.

Tony Rigatoni’s

Since 1990, Tony Rigatoni’s—and its slightly rowdier upstairs cousin, the Rooftop Tavern (ages 13 and up only)—has answered the pocket community’s call for righteous perches and cool, tucked-away comfort. Downstairs, a dreamy Italian garden scene unfolds under climbing vines and cottonwood shade. Slip into a deep wood booth for a limoncello spritz ($12) and a spin on sheet pan nachos ($17) with Calabrian chili cheese sauce, mozzarella, Italian sausage, pepperoni, banana and green peppers, and onions baked onto tortilla chips. Sans kids? Head upstairs to sip a glass of wine and nosh on mussels diavolo ($17) and house marinated olives ($9) with a rooftop view. 215 Bear Creek Ave., Morrison

The limoncello and Aperol spritz at Tony Rigatoni’s in Morrison. Photo by Lisa Blake

Tap on the Rocks

Soak up the cool, dim pub vibes or join the party on the covered, creekside patio where dogs and live music infuse the animated scene—and where the right blend of shade, sunshine, and breeze offer respite from the heat. Wood-fired pizza and Colorado craft brews are the draw. Try a bright raspberry kolsch ($6) by Denver Beer Co. with your butter-dripping garlic knots ($7) and a simple charred-edged margherita pizza ($14). 408 Bear Creek Ave., Morrison

A craft brew and margherita pizza at Tap on the Rocks in Morrison. Photo by Lisa Blake

Red Rocks Beer Garden

Show some Colorado love at this popular pre-show watering hole just down the hill from Red Rocks Amphitheatre. The historic 1870 cottage serves only food, beer, wine, and snacks made in the Centennial State. Check the chalkboard outside to see what’s on tap, and walk through the small seating area past the stacks of well-used board games to order from the bar. Then, kick back at a picnic table with your pint and a Boulder-made On Tap Kitchen soft pretzel ($9) with spicy mustard, pet some pups (ask the bartender for dog treats), and take in the fresh flowers, towering pines, and the trickling fountain. 116 Stone St., Morrison

Photo by Lisa Blake

The Cow

This buzzing café and riverside patio along the Bear Creek Trail settles multi-generational cravings with smothered chile rellenos, fish and chips, and famous soft-serve ice cream. Look to the Summer Chillers menu for fresh and creative cocktails like the elderflower fizz ($7) made with vodka, elderflower syrup, cranberry, and mint. Grab the kids Italian sodas ($5) and a locally made monster cream cheese cinnamon roll ($6). Bloody Mary fans: The Cow has a noteworthy bloody ($7) starring a house mix of cucumber-infused water, horseradish, dill, garlic and habaneros. 316 Bear Creek Ave., Morrison

Morrison Inn

Watermelon Pomegranate Loco Limeade Margarita and live music featuring Jonathan Browning Acoustix at the Morrison Inn. Photo courtesy of the Morrison Inn

This local institution caters to Morrison’s hodgepodge of concertgoers, artists, antiquers, hikers, motorcyclists, and families alike with its hefty, loveable, homemade Mexican menu and award-winning margaritas. The Morrison Inn opened in 1979, adding its outdoor patio in 1987, and the mountainside mainstay now pours 15,000 gallons of their famous margaritas each year. Order the skinny horseshoe marg ($12) made with Herradura silver tequila, agave, and fresh lime juice, then be sure to plunge some tortilla chips into an order of Juan’s killer queso dip ($12). Or try the blackened mahi-mahi tacos ($17) on corn tortillas with cabbage slaw. Throw some nightly live local tunes into the mix, and you’ll quickly see why this patio has won loads of best-of awards. 301 Bear Creek Ave., Morrison

Lisa Blake
Lisa Blake
Lisa Blake is a freelance writer and children's book author living in Breckenridge. When she's not writing about food and mountain adventures, she can be found on the river with her son, pug and husband.