Philly’s Best Kid-Friendly Beer Gardens
From seasonal pop-ups to permanent family-favorites, here are all the laidback outdoor spots for sippy cups and craft beers alike.
Philly has been called a “city of neighborhoods” and even a “city of homes,” but Avram Hornik, owner of FCM Hospitality, has another nickname in mind: city of beer gardens. The mastermind behind places like Morgan’s Pier and the popular Parks on Tap program has helped revitalize not just what outdoor dining looks like, but also community.
“When you give people something to eat, something to drink, a chair, it transforms any place into a public space — a place people can socialize,” he says. Together with Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, Hornik and Kathryn Ott Lovell conceived of a traveling beer garden series in 2016 that would show off Philly’s many parks and highlight its many neighborhoods while raising money for our green spaces. Parks on Tap took off right away, and the beer garden had an additional set of fans that may have been surprising to those not paying attention: Kids.
With three children of his own, city dad Hornik noticed that parenting in Philly was changing — families were looking for ways to gather with each other (and their kid-free friends) in more inclusive and outdoor settings. “Both parents are working full-time and when you get home you want to see your kids, but you also want to socialize,” he explained. Parks on Tap was so kid- (and dog-) friendly that it brought toys like hula hoops and oversized Jenga to its pop-ups. The little ones followed, swinging in hammocks and enjoying their sippy cups alongside their parents’ craft beers. The welcoming atmosphere didn’t make Parks on Tap any less of a hot location for the over-21 set, because who doesn’t enjoy day-drinking in a garden? A trend was born.
Today, there are so many great spots to grab a drink and enjoy the outdoors with kids in tow. From fun activities to kid-favorite menu items, these places strike the perfect balance.
Another FCM joint, this spring and summertime favorite overlooks the Delaware River with views of the Ben Franklin Bridge and the marina below. While it’s a seasonal hotspot featuring DJs, specialty cocktails and several outdoor bars, on weekend afternoons you’ll typically see multiple strollers and live music. Morgan’s Pier accommodates this audience with a kids’ menu, sippy cups and a changing table. This year’s revamped menu has kid-favorites like pizza and chicken fingers, plus seafood, vegan options, and lots of frozen cocktails perfect for summertime sipping. While Morgan’s Pier’s closing time is 2 a.m., kids have to be out of there by 9 p.m.
221 North Columbus Boulevard.
PHS really started the whole seasonal pop-up beer garden craze years ago when they decided to choose an abandoned lot each summer to transform into a visually creative urban oasis. (Unsurprisingly, Hornik had a hand in the early days of that endeavor as well.) Since 2014, they have settled into a spot in the backyard of Jamaican Jerk Hut (at 15th and South). In the past couple years, they added a second location in Manayunk, which was renovated this year to mimic the feel of an “urban forest.” Even better, the Manayunk spot has a new game room with foosball, Skee-Ball, pop-a-shot, and more. Both locations have lots of food, craft brews, cocktails, family-friendly activities, plant swaps and craft workshops throughout the spring and summer seasons. Also at both locations: A bright orange frozen Gritty margarita rimmed with black salt.
1438 South Street and 106 Jamestown Avenue.
Located on Independence Mall across from the Liberty Bell Center, this is a great spot to hit up after exploring historic sites (or the new Museum of Illusions). This 20,000-square-foot space boasts an expansive beer list, food that will please kids and adults alike, and best of all, games. Play shuffleboard, cornhole, giant Jenga, and (coming this season) ping-pong.
100 South Independence Mall West.
Hit up this unique open-air riverfront space for spectacular views of the Ben Franklin Bridge. While you’re there, check out the pier’s artists’ galleries, art installations, and pop-up events like craft markets. There’s a revamped menu this year with new chef Miguel Angel Hernandez Mota serving up “Puebladelphia” cuisine — think tacos, birria, and a cheesesteak made with brisket, poblano rajas, onion, queso chihuahua and chipotle mayo. In addition to beer, there will be hibiscus lemonade, frozen margs, and more boozy goodness. And while you’re enjoying your refreshments, grab the kids some La Newyorkina paletas, Mexican ice pops in flavors like pineapple mint and Oaxacan chocolate. Note that this spot is only open on weekends (Friday through Sunday), and seating is first-come, first-served.
121 North Columbus Boulevard.
This spot has lots of room to run around, things to do, and views. Located on the 1.2-acre Cira Green rooftop park, Sunset Social is always kid- and dog-friendly, with lawn games and fun events like Wednesday movie nights and (our favorite) weekly Saturday Morning Cartoon Picnics with cartoons on the big screen and super-cheap food ($2 hot dogs and $3 burgers!) from noon to 3 p.m. For your canine friends, Sunset Social also plans yappy hours on Tuesdays throughout the season, with adoptable dogs from Morris Animal Refuge.
129 South 30th Street.
This South Philly rooftop hotspot used to only allow kids on Sunday afternoons, but they changed that policy in recent years, permitting supervised kids and dogs whenever (but be cool about it, okay? Keep a good thing going!). You can even bring a birthday cake with you (for a $25 cutting fee). This year’s iteration of Bok Bar will run 29 weeks with a chef residency program and lots of events planned. Bok Bar is open for the season until October.
1901 South 9th Street.
Of course, everyone knows the indoor bowling alley that gives South Bowl its name, but did you know they also have an outdoor space with games and its own bar? The Yard has two 40-foot-long bocce ball courts, shuffleboard, pool, slow- and fast-pitch batting cages, and more. Plus, you don’t have to go inside to order food and drinks because The Yard has its own outdoor bar and lounge serving beer, cocktails and kid-favorite fare including tater tots and pizza. They even host kids’ birthday parties. Unsurprisingly, as it gets later in the day, the crowd gets more adult, so plan your visit on the early side — they open at 2 p.m. on weekends.
19 East Oregon Avenue.
You read that correctly — your family zoo outing just got a whole lot more interesting. For a few years now, the Philadelphia Zoo’s Watering Hole open-air beer and wine garden has offered guests adult beverages among colorful reclaimed seating. For more food options to go along with your drinks, the newer Urban Green dining area has lots of outdoor seating, food carts with options for everyone, and frequently-changing wine and craft beer. A tip: Along with the free parking and unlimited admission you bought the membership for in the first place, zoo members also save 10 percent on food.
3400 West Girard Avenue.
Known for its whimsical names like #Adulting, Murder Durder, and perennial favorite Purple Monkey Dishwasher, the Fishtown brewery (or “Lab,” as they like to call it) has a delightful beer garden that welcomes kids and dogs. In addition to beer (obviously), there’s a full menu with sandwiches and snacks including mac and cheese, grilled cheese, soft pretzels, and ice cream sandwiches. Kids can play games in the colorful yard, too.
1727 North Front Street.
Unlike most places on this list, Frankford Hall is open in Fishtown year-round, serving German biergarten-inspired fare like giant soft riesenpretzels, schnitzel, and of course a variety of bratwurst and beers. The outdoor area is huge, and even stays warm in the winter thanks to heat lamps and fire pits (s’more kits cost $4). The crowd is all-ages, but you’ll see tons of families on weekends for brunch — especially holiday events where Santa visits the hall.
1210 Frankford Avenue.
This one’s not exactly a beer garden, but omitting it from the guide would be a grave error. Where else can you drink alcohol while your kids play on a pirate ship? Nowhere, that’s where. The FCM crew outdid themselves, and life hasn’t been the same since Craft Hall opened in Northern Liberties. In addition to the pirate ship playground, there’s old-school Nintendo, Skee-Ball, table games, a Phanatic statue, and porch-swing seating, if you can snag it. Still hung up on that whole outdoors thing? Don’t be: Craft Hall has patio seating and a freaking dog park. That’s right, this bar has its own dedicated doggy play area, complete with custom dog cocktails (or, “dogua fresca,” if we’re being precise). There’s also a full menu featuring barbecue platters and Lost Bread Co. (baked on-site), including a kids’ menu. They also just added bottomless brunch buffet on Sundays. (Kids are welcome and pay less, for obvious reasons; and kids under five eat free with each participating adult.) In addition to the on-site bakery, Craft Hall has the on-site Mainstay Brewery. Just be sure to get the kids out of there by 9 p.m. so adults can have some alcohol-fueled fun in peace. Craft Hall is open year-round, and thank heaven (or Poseidon?) for that.
901 North Delaware Avenue.
In addition to Cherry Street Pier, you can also drink further down south on the Delaware waterfront thanks to longtime fave SSHP. Lounge in a hammock, play shuffleboard and giant lawn games, stroll the boardwalk for all kinds of treats, pose for a picture in the giant Visit Philly Adirondack chair, and then head to the floating bar(ge) for cocktails and beer. It’s summertime perfection, and it all starts May 6th this year.
301 South Columbus Boulevard.
Yet another spot along the Delaware River (and yet another FCM production), Liberty Point is set to be huge — both literally and figuratively. This brand-new outdoor spot adjacent to Independence Seaport Museum is the city’s largest restaurant and has three main levels, five bars, panoramic waterfront views, and live entertainment. There’s even a little rowboat for kids to play in. The menu includes a raw bar, sandwiches, salads and seasonal bites, and there’s definitely plenty to drink as well.
211 South Columbus Boulevard.
They may not have done it first, but they did it best. We can’t wait for this family-favorite to return this spring. With lots of room to run around, the cleanest bathroom trailers I’ve ever seen, and top-notch food-and-drink offerings, this is one of the best ways to spend a lazy weekend afternoon. This year, Hornik says that Parks on Tap will have a more stationary location at Water Works until September, and then it will travel (once Made in America starts) through the first weekend in October. They hope to return to their “roving” status again next year.
640 Waterworks Drive til September; TBD for early fall.