10 Places to Take Kids
We’ve taken Sierra to places that were perfectly friendly―particularly since we often traveled with a portable high chair―but weren’t exactly geared toward children.
For instance, the Balcony Bar in New Orleans, which had 75 draft beers for us to choose from and French fries that Sierra really enjoyed, was a great place to sit on the balcony and watch Saturday afternoon traffic drift by on Magazine Street. And there was Four Green Fields in Tampa, an Irish pub we visited with Daria’s brother, Ricky, and his son, Michael. When Michael missed the board a few times in the course of shooting darts, nobody flinched.
With that in mind, here are more places, brewpubs and otherwise, where you and the kids can relax with the beverage of your choice:
Mews Tavern, Wakefield, RI
Plenty of places have no interest in being kid friendly, and their patrons like it that way. The Mews, which was a men-only club when it opened in 1947, calls the bar itself a “kid free zone” but it also has an intimate, woody tavern area with booths that are perfect for containing a precocious child. The Mews has 69 beers on tap, 200 single malt Scotches, and maybe the best sweet potato fries we’ve had anywhere.
Redfish Brewing Co., Boulder
The New Orleans-style menu is on the upscale side for a brewpub, and the beer line-up is diverse, often featuring Belgian-influenced ales. When Sierra managed to free the first purple balloon they tied to her high chair and watched it float to the ceiling more than 20 feet above, the server simply smiled and gave her a new one.
Sam Choy’s Breakfast Lunch & Crab Shack, Honolulu
The servings are so large here that when a plate was delivered to the table, a customer at another table got up and took a picture. Kids love the show. There’s also a boat in the middle of the restaurant (with a dining table inside).
Die Bierstube, Frankfurt, IL
Not every German restaurant-bar caters to children, but they are nearly as good a bet as brewpubs. Booths to the side of the bar here are like small rooms.
Parting Glass, Saratoga Springs, NY
Irish establishments are not nearly as good a bet as German spots. The menu may not be as diverse and the patrons may consider the bar their own. The Parting Glass, though, is more restaurant with a broad menu and a separate music room.
Last Chance Saloon, Columbia, MD
This is more British pub than Wild West saloon. Not only does the dining area cater to families, but it also seems perfectly reasonable to bring children into the bar area. We once saw a man plop a young child right on the bar top while he had a beer. More than 50 draft choices.
Redbones, Somerville, MA
It’s crowded all the time and they won’t take your name for seating until they can see everybody in the party. The darker downstairs and small bar area upstairs are best left to adults, but kids are welcome in the main dining room. This place passed the 2-2-2 test (two kids under two, time to enjoy two beers). The 24-tap line-up is as good as anywhere, but the barbecue might be better.
ESPN Zone, Baltimore
If you are going to go for the video-and-more gaming experience, you might as well go all the way. This is a great spot for when the kids get a little older (or you want to be a kid). We still recommend spending the afternoon wandering around Fells Point before the crowd arrives at great spots like the Wharf Rat Bar, but you can get interesting beer here while the kids play.
A little rowdy on Friday nights, but very pubby and with a menu adventurous enough for parents who want something new and tame enough for kids. Barclay’s has served an astonishing number of beers from 30 taps since opening in 1991, rotating them often and adding at least three new ones every week.
Mickey Finn’s, Libertyville, IL
Regulars loved this place when it was “just” a bar, but when it converted to a brewpub in 1994, the menu got broader and it became more appealing to the suburban family crowd. We’re partial to the operating electric train that chugs around just below ceiling level.
Stan Hieronymus and Daria Labinsky are authors of The Beer Lover's Guide to the USA (St. Martin's Griffin). You'll find more kid-friendly places among the thousands listed in the book.