Some bars have bouncers who inspect IDs like they’re potential evidence in CSI. Others play loud music full of non-bleeped curse words, or stay so crowded that you can barely get someone’s attention to order something you’ll probably spill three seconds later. So if you want to get a drink somewhere and you also happen to have your children with you, your options are fairly limited. Here are 15 spots that are casual, big enough for your kids to have lightsaber duels, and bright enough that the whole experience won’t feel like a game of hide and seek (unless you want it to).
We don’t know if it’s an age thing or a sugar thing, but we do know that kids don’t like to sit still. That’s why it’s a good move to bring them to places like Berg’n, a Prospect Heights beer garden the size of an airplane hangar. During the day, there tend to be strollers lining the walls and kids’ birthday parties at the big communal tables, which are packed with food from vendors like Mighty Quinn’s. Hang out inside or at a table in the outdoor courtyard until 9pm, when it becomes 21+.
A rooftop bar in Tribeca might not sound like the best place to bring your five-year-old, but there are no bouncers with earpieces guarding the doors at City Vineyard. This is a casual restaurant and wine bar right on the Hudson River, with a huge roof deck that’s a comfortable spot to drink good wine while your kids watch kayakers try not to capsize a few yards away.
You decided to have a big get-together with the other families from Mr. Collins’ kindergarten class. Rather than going to a (really expensive) bowling spot, or getting too competitive with Spencer’s dad over skee-ball at Chuck E Cheese’s, suggest Greenwood Park. This massive place in South Slope has indoor and outdoor bars serving a bunch of craft beers on tap, as well as frozen cocktails and pitchers of sangria. And if you truly want to beat Spencer’s dad at something, there are full-size bocce courts in the courtyard.
The next time your kids wake up on a weekend morning and start demanding authentic German beer garden food, take them to Spritzenhaus, where they’re welcome anytime before 7pm. There are lots of big tables inside, and there’s also some sidewalk seating when it’s warm out - plus, McCarren Park is just across the street.
Even if you live in LIC, you may not know about this all-outdoor bar with picnic tables overlooking Manhattan, because it’s behind some warehouses and not visible from the street. Take advantage of its non-obvious location the next time you want to have some drinks on the water, but don’t want a packed space where your kid will overhear conversations about leveraged buyouts and bad Tinder dates.
If the weather’s nice and you want to drink a pina colada outside, head to Habana Outpost. It’s a Cuban restaurant in Fort Greene with a huge fenced-in patio covered in picnic tables. They have everything from sandwiches and burritos to tacos and hot dogs, so your kids can eat some or all of those things while you drink a frozen cocktail out of a plastic cup. They also play movies in the summertime - check the schedule if you’re looking for something (besides tacos) to distract everyone.
If you spend a significant amount of your time pushing a stroller around, there’s a good chance you occasionally do it in Park Slope. The next time you want to grab a beer before pushing that stroller the rest of the way home, go to Brooklyn Burgers & Beer. This casual bar on 5th Avenue has good beers on tap (and you can sample them as a flight of five-ounce pours). They also have some TVs above the bar, in case you want to get a head start on the whole Yankees indoctrination thing.
When your 8-year-old’s teacher asks her what she did this weekend, it would be ideal if she had more to say than, “I watched mommy and daddy drink in a bar.” It would be great if, for example, she could say she saw the Statue Of Liberty and spent time on the Hudson River. So go to Pier A Harbor House and sit at a picnic table on the water. It’s also a prime location to get the picture for this year’s family holiday card.
If you stop by on a Saturday night, Franklin Park will be loud and crowded, and there will probably be some kind of dance party going on. But this Crown Heights bar is a lot more civilized in the afternoon. There’s a big outdoor patio at the entrance, they serve food from Dutch Boy Burger, and they have pinball, air hockey, and a couple of arcade games. Just be aware that everyone under 21 needs to leave by 7pm, since (as mentioned) a dance party might take place.
You’re looking for something nicer than your average pub, but not so fancy that you’ll get glares if someone isn’t using his indoor voice. That’s exactly what Treadwell Park is. It’s a big bar on the Upper East Side with large tables and TVs for watching sports, and if you come by on a weekend afternoon, there are guaranteed to be some other kids here, too. They’ll probably be playing ping pong or eating fries while their parents drink beer.
There are places that make their own beer, places with outdoor space, and places with really good burgers. And then there’s Threes Brewing, which (fittingly) has all three. This brewery in Gowanus makes its beers on-site, and the big backyard is a great space for your kids to hang out until they get hungry and want a burger or some onion rings. Or until 7pm, when all the kids have to go.
Most places with shot and beer combos are full of kids on summer break after junior year of college rather than year two of elementary school. And while LIC Bar does have shot and beer combos, it’s actually just a casual neighborhood spot in LIC. Try something from the long draft beer list, and get a table in the nice, ivy-covered backyard, where they have live music every weekend in the summer.
Your kids want to be outside. That’s probably true most of the time, but especially when the weather’s nice and they’ve finished pretending to do their summer homework. Try Pig Beach, a BBQ spot in Gowanus with a huge outdoor courtyard. There’s plenty of space for running around, plus picnic tables for when they (or you) need to eat some ribs or a very good, messy cheeseburger.
Your kids are telling you to walk faster as they speed ahead on their Razors, and your dog is pulling you in the opposite direction as it tries to investigate an old Domino’s box on the sidewalk. When you need a break (and a beer), bring them all to Mission Dolores. This bar on the Gowanus/Park Slope border has pinball machines to keep your kids occupied, lots of potential new friends for your dog, and about 20 craft beers on tap. They don’t allow kids after 6pm, but at that point you can go across the street to Strong Rope Brewery.
This casual, one-room Park Slope space serves a rotating selection of beers that are brewed on-site, which you can sample in affordable flights of any five you want. It’s also BYO food, so set up a little picnic with food from My Cuban Spot a block away.