STUTTGART, Germany — Among the sprawl of picnic tables and umbrellas rests a secret to why Europeans, at least a lot of them, are so laid back.

It’s the beauty of the biergarten, or beer garden, where people come to lower their blood pressure. Nature meets beer, and good cheer results.

A particularly warm place to take one of these two-hour holidays is Sonja’s Biergarten im Schlossgarten in downtown Stuttgart.

The setting is what makes Sonja’s two steps beyond your average beer garden. It’s nestled in the Schlossgarten, a one-mile long swath of park in the center of bustling Stuttgart.

Big leafy trees and broad green lawns, with people tossing a flying disc or playing soccer or just laying about, is like being in Munich’s famed English Garden. And like in Munich, there’s more than one beer garden in the Schlossgarten. But Sonja’s is the biggest.

Smooth asphalt paths run the length of the park, and the connecting Rosenstein Park, and therefore make it a favorite of runners, in-line skaters and bicyclists. It’s not unusual for a group of 50 or more in-line skaters to make a pit stop at Sonja’s while out for their evening skate.

Thankfully, Sonja’s is built for business as well as pleasure; it can seat 2,000.

After a sweaty bicycle ride or skate, grab a plate of chow and something cold to drink. The food is basic German — schnitzel, big bones of pork, potato variations and salads. Even though it’s a beer garden, there are ample non-malted drink selections.

One doesn’t have to be on wheels to enjoy the park. It’s paths are illuminated by softly lit, basketball-seized orbs, and there are darker corners in the park as well; a perfect place for sweethearts to go on a leisurely evening stroll. Throughout the park there are grills for public use, too, so bring a bag of charcoal and bag of meat, Yankee, and show the locals how it’s done.

Sonja’s is a warm-weather getaway — being outdoors and all — so don’t show up in December and expect to get served. But for a grand two-hour holiday without the hassles of luggage and airports, try it out.

And stay longer than two hours if you want.

To see previous After Hours reviews, go to:

Sonja’s Biergarten

Prices: Food items up to 10 euro; drinks 2 to 6 euro.English menu: yes.Specialties: Atmosphere, outdoors in the beautiful Schlossgarten. Food is typical German and not exceptional.Dress: Casual, jogging and cycling gear.Clientele: Runs the gamut.Location: Schlossgarten, a spacious English garden-style park, next to the main train station in downtown Stuttgart. Hours: Until midnight or 1 a.m., depending on business.Web (English, very helpful). Schedule of live music is on the site.

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