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Published October 30th 2016
Update September 8th 2017
Aviary Rooftop Bar, number 2 on this list, has since closed down and the temporary shipping container village has been dismantled.
Where to go for lake breezes, coldies & cocktails
Although Canberra may be two hours from the coast for scenic ocean views, the city has its own water views and breezes overlooking Lake Burley Griffin. There is just something so refreshing about sipping an icy cold drink in Summer and looking over a wide expanse of flat and peaceful water. On weekends, the lake is covered with kayaks, canoes and cruise boats, so there is plenty to watch with a chilled beverage in hand. If you stay long enough, you can also watch the sun set over the mountains, creating a warm orange glow over the Capital. Following is a list of licensed venues to catch up with friends, take the family out for the evening or have a romantic moment for two overlooking the city's most loved waterway. From a casual beer with fish and chips, to a fine dining restaurant with local wines - there is something for everyone this Summer in Canberra.
Evening cocktails at The Dock on the Kingston Foreshore. Source: The Dock website
The Kingston Foreshore is a strip of licenced cafes, restaurants and gastro-pubs that overlook an inlet of Lake Burley Griffin. All of the modern eateries along the foreshore have outdoor seating literally metres from the water, to take advantage of the views in this upmarket area. Most are licenced, so just walk along and take your pick from the variety of international flavours and dining options on offer.
If you are looking for a casual gastro-pub to enjoy a cold beer, wine or cocktail on a weekend afternoon, The Dock pub is a popular option with live sports shown on the TV's and a bustling, social vibe. They have an extensive menu with delicious pub meals and extensive drinks options. Why not stay for dinner and kick into the night, with The Dock closing at midnight on weekends. Another gastro-pub option at the other end of the foreshore is Walt and Burley which has outside tables looking out to Lake Burley Griffin. Also closing at midnight on weekends, this spacious pub has plenty of room to cater for larger groups of friends. See their extensive drinks menu here, complete with colourful cocktails.
Aviary Rooftop Bar is located in the shipping container village Westside Acton Park, situated on the banks of Lake Burley Griffin. This area was set up by the ACT Government to give a "leg up" to small businesses to help them get started in the restaurant industry. If you are feeling energetic and happy to walk up a few flights of stairs, there is a shipping container laid horizontally across the top of the village with stunning views of Lake Burley Griffin and beyond. This is Aviary Rooftop Bar, which is open until late on Friday and Saturday nights with regular live music and chill out tunes to enjoy through Summer. Lean up at the bar along the open window and take in the breeze and view. See the Aviary Rooftop Bar website and Facebook for more details.
Sunset drinks at Aviary Rooftop Bar. Source: Aviary Rooftop Bar website
Snapper on the Lake at Lotus Bay (Yarralumla) is a licenced fish and chips outlet which sells beer and wine to enjoy by the lakeside. For families, it is an ideal way to spend a weekend evening, with light evenings and a closing time of 8pm. People of all ages walk in with picnic blankets thrown over their shoulders, so they can lie in the shade and enjoy a casual dinner and drinks. There is also room on the reserve for a game of cricket and you may see the occasional wedding ceremony down by the lakeside. See website here for details.
The Southern Cross Yacht Club (upstairs from Snapper) has even better views of the lake for members and their guests and visitors to the area. This scenic venue is open until 11pm on Saturdays and 10pm on Sundays during Summer, with full bar facilities and Club prices. See website here for more details.
If you are after more of a fine dining dinner option, book a table at Waters Edge or The Boathouse (previously Boathouse on the Lake) for delectable cuisine and Australian wines on the waterfront.
Outside dining and reserve at Snapper on the Lake. Source: Southern Cross Canberra Facebook
Bookplate Café at the National Library of Australia is a licenced venue with wines, beers and ciders to enjoy with lunch and scenic views over the lake. This popular café/restaurant has a good range of choices in their lunch menu and drinks list - where you can buy wine by the glass or bottle, depending on how long you expect to stay. On weekends, Bookplate Café closes at 4pm. See website here for more details.
Museum Café at the National Museum of Australia is another scenic spot to sit with a glass of wine, whilst enjoying a delicious meal from their lunch menu. Located further around the lake in Acton, it has a unique perspective of the lake from its outdoor eating area. The Museum café closes at 4:45pm daily. See the Museum Café website for more details.
The Deck Café at Regatta Point boasts one of the best views of Lake Burley Griffin. Enjoy a champagne breakfast or a wine with lunch, whilst looking over the lake to Canberra's iconic buildings on the other side. This licenced café with tasty menu is popular for weddings and functions due to its central location and 180 degree views of the lake. It is also a handy stop for people to stop for lunch whilst out on a lake walk or visiting Commonwealth Park behind. The Deck closes at 4pm on weekends. See the Deck at Regatta Point website for more details.
For locals and visitors to Canberra, Summer is a beautiful time of year to experience the nation's capital, with the sounds of music festivals and DJ's getting carried along in the lake breeze. Hot days, cold drinks, light evenings and sweeping water views - Summertime in Canberra has never looked so good....
Cheers! Source: The Deck at Regatta Point Facebook