15 Best Dining Experiences in an Igloo, Yurt, and Greenhouse

Outdoor dining experiences in the form of igloos, yurts, greenhouses and even a hobbit house are everywhere these days. What started as a socially distanced dining trend during the pandemic is still alive and well, offering diners tired of eating indoors another alternative that, dare we say, may be more fun overall?

Restaurants and hotels have gotten so creative with their seasonal dining areas and outdoor seating arrangements, especially for the holidays. I mean, what says the holiday spirit more than a cozy little igloo decked out in flannel and furs, with mini burners on, ready to roast s’mores? There’s a reason this winter restaurant trend is here to stay and it’s called: Instagram opportunities.

Best Outdoor Dining Experiences

From renovated Vermont gondolas on the sprawling lawn of Ocean House in Watch Hill, Rhode Island to a community of electric greenhouses on a rooftop pier in mid-Manhattan, the growing trend shows no signs of slowing. And these bespoke dining rooms aren’t just for cold places, either. Even hot spots like Miami and Austin are having fun, with their own activations in the form of teepees and private snow globe villages.

So if you want to eat in a restaurant, but prefer to do it outside, look no further than this list of best outdoor dining experiences that bring fantasy.

Gondola Village at Ocean House in Westerly, Rhode Island

A trip to the French Alps is not planned at the moment? How about the next best thing: a Rhode Island getaway to the Grande Dame on the coast, Ocean House, where their Gondola Village by Veuve Clicquot awaits. From breakfast gondola, lunch, afternoon aperitif and dinner menus that tick all the boxes (like afternoon pancake service and decadent four-course meals from French onion soup and beef bourguignon with champagne pairings), to a winter wonderland setting, it’s no wonder this posh retreat has garnered so much social attention on the ‘gram. There are vintage ski gondolas from Vermont and Switzerland outfitted in warm woods, cozy electric blankets and fine alpine fabrics, Veuve Clicquot Rich Rosé cocktails and plenty of Insta-worthy moments around the fire pits, as well as at inside this majestic yellow beacon on Watch Hill. And if you’re doing this experience on a weekend, be sure to ask about their wine tasting dinners at the award-winning COAST restaurant, as well as free wine and culinary arts classes.

Related: The 18 Best Restaurants in Newport, Rhode Island

Sugarmaker’s Igloo Brunch at Kettle Ridge Farm in Ontario County, New York

Grab your pod and plan a Funday Sunday at Kettle Ridge Farm! Their Sugarmaker’s Igloo Brunch offers a five-course, maple-inspired “chef’s choice” menu and a bottle of sparkling wine inside one of four heated igloos on their quaint farmhouse outside of Rochester, New York. The ultimate tree-to-table experience includes local ingredients, but don’t expect to find the menu online — the mystery is part of the fun.

Hobbit Houses at the Preserve Sporting Club & Residences in Richmond, Rhode Island

Not to overlook the igloos on this list, but dine in a real Hobbit house? Talk about the goals of the dinner. Set on 3,500 acres of unspoilt nature reserve, the two Maker’s Mark Hobbit homes are an experience you’ll never forget, even if you’re not a JRR Tolkien fan. After entering the Bilbo Baggins-inspired cottage, you’ll be treated to a grill menu with fine bourbon pairings, before relaxing beside a fire pit under the stars. Other reasons to visit The Preserve include accommodations ranging from quaint Laurel Ridge homes and cozy cabins to a year-round treetop retreat in the sky. Plus, over 50 adventure options in the form of ziplining, clay shooting, mountain biking, tennis, snowmobiling, golf and more.

Drake Oak Brook Igloos in Oak Brook, Illinois

Just 25 minutes from Chicago, the newly renovated Drake Oak Brook, Autograph Collection welcomes diners to whimsical igloos surrounded by 10 acres of pristine white powder. The socially distanced dining experience is available all winter for guests to enjoy, featuring 2.5 hours of gourmet delights in a snowy setting. The experience also includes personal heaters, a special menu, full bottle service, cozy blankets, and arctic-chic decor.

The greens on the roof of Pier 17 in Manhattan, New York

Experience the upstate New York life, downtown. Inspired by the welcoming cabins of Catskill, Pier17 has transformed into a magical winter sanctuary with The Greens. This group of open-air restaurants offers seasonal dishes like creamy tomato soup, truffle grilled cheese and fondue, as well as craft cocktails courtesy of Dante’s award-winning bartenders. And if you’re looking to experience a socially distanced stay, book a room at the Four Seasons Downtown. This is the closest (and most convenient) property to the Greens, with 5-star accommodation.

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The Lookout Rooftop igloos in Boston, Massachusetts

As for The Envoy Hotel, Autograph Collection’s Lookout Rooftop, they’re best known for turning Boston’s seaport into a SNOWPORT decked out in neon igloos and lots of party cheer. Small pods of six or less can rent these heated bubbles where you’ll be greeted with epic views of the Beantown skyline, plus specialty cocktails, small plates and a personal speaker system to play snow tunes of your choice. Warm up with a Golden Ticket (Van Gogh Dutch Caramel and Hot Chocolate) or Teeling Frisky (Teeling Whiskey, Honey, Lemon, All Spice Dram) before ‘programming’ all your Eskimo-influenced fun.

Related: 25 Best New England Weekend Getaways

Yurts at Aurum Food + Wine in Steamboat Springs, Colorado

If you happen to live near Denver, you’re probably familiar with the storybook setting that is Steamboat Springs, CO. This off-the-beaten-path destination is also called Ski Town, USA, for its obvious after-school offerings and for producing more Winter Olympics athletes than any other city in North America. It’s also the home of Aurum Food + Wine’s yurts, which are even cuter in person than they look in photos. Pro tip: Book a reservation early for these gems, as there are only four and they tend to sell out quickly. In addition to the restaurant’s seasonal menu of appetizers and sweets, there are also “Au-To-Go” libations perfect for quenching your thirst on the gondola between runs.

The Igloos at The Wheel in Stamford, Connecticut

Stack up and get cozy at The Wheel this holiday season! The upscale waterfront village of Stamford, CT has transformed into a winter wonderland village with igloos, fondue and build-your-own s’mores. Book a 2-hour reservation for you and your crew to enjoy Christmas cocktails like their Irish Coffee, Apple Spritz, Winter Mules, and Bourbon + Cider, then snuggle up in throws under a canopy of lights twinkling above your head. And if you’re making a weekend trip to Fairfield County, you’ll find accommodations nearby at the quaint Delamar Greenwich Harbor Hotel, where a Winter Weekend Package gets you a free bottle of wine and daily dining credit.

Related: Connecticut’s 25+ Best Restaurants

The Miner Brewing Co. Igloos in Hill City, South Dakota

Day or night, these snow globes are always a good time. Beer lovers looking to explore the Wild West can head to South Dakota’s Miner Brewing Co., which pays homage to 19th-century Black Hills gold rush miners. Bundle up in an outdoor blanket, grab a pint of local South Dakota beer (such as Black Currant Maibock, Campfire Cocoa, Chokecherry Brown Ale, or Elderberry Kombucha Berliner) and take in the beautiful snowy scenery of the Black Hills. The igloos can accommodate up to six adults and are free Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.-3 p.m., $20 Monday-Thursday 3-5 p.m., and $25 all day Friday-Sunday.

The Millwrights Greenhouses in Simsbury, Connecticut

Perched atop a rushing waterfall in Simsbury, CT is Millwrights, a 17th-century mill with a covered bridge and heated greenhouses. Dining here is a nature lover’s dream come true and you’ll be happy to know that the fully glazed dining areas completely change the air every couple of minutes and have a remote control you can push if you need a service or a new cocktail. . Order the beer cheese fries and smoked duck drumsticks for the table, followed by chicken and meatballs, mushroom bolognese and veal osso bucco with Strogano spaetzle.

The Kimpton Van Zandt Igloos in Austin, Texas

For the 2nd annual year, the Kimpton Van Zandt presents its holiday pop-up: The South Pole. Tickets give you access to these Insta-worthy igloos, plus seated cocktail tastings, a roving S’mores cart, over-the-top decor and more. The event takes place every Friday and Saturday evening from December to January. Buy tickets here and make it a weekend by booking the Operation Christmas Presidential Suite, which includes: a night in our seasonally decked Presidential Suite, holiday records to spin during your stay, cocktails and finger food at Geraldine’s, late check-out and valet parking for up to two cars.

Nikki Beach Teepees in Miami, Florida

OK, Miami may have most of New England and the Midwest when it comes to great weather all year round, but because of that, they also have an endless array of outdoor restaurants and beach clubs. to choose from. Our favourite? Nikki Beach Miami for its bohemian aesthetic, toe-in-the-sand mentality and epic sunsets. Book their teepee package for a group of six or less to relax in private while savoring sumptuous charcuterie and Greek Porto Heli platters, over-the-top sushi boat presentations and all the NB extras – think soft pillows, lanterns and the ever-fluid rosé.

The Oyster Club Treehouse in Mystic, Connecticut

If you prefer wintry views from above, rather than inside an open sleeping quarters, consider the Oyster Club Treehouse. Mystic’s HCIC (chef in charge) Dan Meiser pretty much runs this idyllic Connecticut seaport with Nana’s Bakery & Pizza, Engine Room, Grass & Bone, and mothership, Oyster Club, but our favorite spot to taste its foraged dishes (and seafood) is in the tree house. A few standouts are the Stone Acres Mokum Carrots in Spicy Brown Butter, Fried Thai Monkfish and Tuna Chorizo ​​Linguini and don’t forget the oysters, especially the Rockefeller and half a dozen roasted when you go. Need a place to plant post-food coma? Check into Whaler’s Inn down the street to enjoy nautical charm in spacious accommodations.

Next, 12 of the best rooftop bars all year round.

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