Argyle Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia(Courtesy of Nova Scotia Tourism & Culture)

Once the wind lets up and the sun comes out, Haligonians take to Argyle Street.

MacDougal and Bleecker: The mythic corner conjures an ideal late spring afternoon spent meandering the Greenwich Village warren, hearing a jazz quintet in Washington Square Park then settling into a sidewalk café. My memories of a Village visit always include an alfresco meal, whether digging into a caprese salad lunch or late-night pasta. Even though I stay on the Upper East Side, I fall toward the Village like Alice through the rabbit hole. You don't inhabit New York to live indoors; you shouldn't do so when you visit, either.

Outdoor dining opportunities provide the first indication of a welcoming metropolis. Paris wouldn't be Paris without its broad sidewalks lined with iron bistro tables. But sidewalk supping isn't just pleasing aesthetically; statistics indicate that New York City restaurants with a courtyard option do better than those without -- exactly why Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently increased patio permit quotas significantly.

Notable North American cities from Halifax to Santa Barbara throw their tablecloths to the wind whether the sunny window is open 60 or 360 days a year. Like most of our fellow mammals, we're happiest and healthiest when outdoors, so grab a light sweater and snag a table for two in any of these great patio towns. Sunshine is open for business.

Halifax, Nova Scotia
The winter wind doth blow in Halifax. But with close to 16 hours of sunlight in summer, Haligonians take their outdoor sitting seriously. In fact, the bistro tables come out here in mid-April and aren't stowed until late October. Patio-hopping along the downtown core's Argyle Street is a local custom, whether revelers seek the wonderfully titled Economy Shoe Shop, slide into the Diamond or head to the roof at The Argyle. More waves of terraces stand ready along the Halifax Waterfront, where Murphy's at Cable Wharf departs the boardwalk and sets its guests directly (almost!) on the water at wharf's end.

La Playa Hotel's Terrace(Courtesy of La Playa Hotel)

Wine and dine at La Playa Hotel's Terrace Grill.

Carmel-by-the-Sea, Calif.
Carmel. The name conjures a rare combination of wild surf and refined air. Walk along San Carlos and Junipero Streets among the galleries and cafés, and you can feel the presence of David Crosby and Clint Eastwood. Travelers may pause at the Earthbound Farm Organic Kitchen for a picnic lunch, or sip a local wine at La Playa Hotel's Terrace Grill. Perhaps most exemplary of this eclectic, eccentric village just north of Big Sur, is Forge in the Forest & General Store, a saloon, overgrown patio and "intimate" dining experience. The Hog's Breath Inn (formerly co-owned by Eastwood) remains true to Carmel's Tudor ambience with brick fireplaces warming a Tolkien terrace that would do Bilbo Baggins proud.

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