20 Restaurants with Outdoor Dining in Connecticut That Families Love

The bank of the Connecticut River is home to The Blue Oar. Photo courtesy of The Blue Oar/Facebook
The bank of the Connecticut River is home to The Blue Oar. Photo courtesy of The Blue Oar/Facebook

With exciting views and kid-friendly vibes, restaurants with outdoor dining around Connecticut are always a good choice for families! From river docks to secret gardens and beachside patios, these eateries are loved by local families.

Some of these awesome Connecticut restaurants with outdoor seating even made our list of places where kids can play while you relax, which is the ultimate combination for happy dining as a family. Enjoy!

Note: Check websites or call before heading out to find out each individual restaurant's policies about reservations and other safety guidelines.

Best Restaurants With Outdoor Dining in Connecticut

1. The Blue Oar — Haddam

The Blue Oar serves delicious food with a view, and it opens for the season on May 8. Dine al fresco at one of their brightly colored picnic tables located on the banks of the Connecticut River. Guests can park their car or boat and dine on everything from quick-and-easy bites like burgers and hot dogs to grilled salmon with lemon garlic aioli. Make note that this spot is cash only and BYOB. If it's raining, be sure to give them a call to make sure they're open.

2. The Place — Guilford 

The Place is a truly unusual outdoor seafood restaurant. Pull up a tree stump to bright-red communal tables and enjoy clams, lobsters, chicken breast, and corn, all prepared on a crackling wood fire. There's no need to worry about QR codes, as there's one big menu that hangs over the dining area. Seating is first-come-first-serve, and reservations are not accepted. The Place is cash only, and there is an ATM on site. 

3. Abbott's Lobster in the Rough — Noank 

The food at this quintessential New England seafood spot is rivaled only by its panoramic views of the Mystic River. (It even made a cameo in the hit film, Mystic Pizza!) Abbott's Lobster in the Rough serves up classics like lobster rolls, steamed clams, and chowder, but also has some non-seafood kid favorites to keep the whole family happy. Before leaving, make sure to ask for some “fish food” and head down to the river to feed the "locals."

4. Wood-n-Tap — Farmington 

Summer has arrived at Wood-n-Tap in Farmington. This location of the popular restaurant chain is directly along the banks of the Farmington River. In addition to patio dining, guests can enjoy riverside fire pits in the evening and live music. This is a hot spot, and it fills up quickly on good weather days, so time your visit accordingly.

Jessica's Garden Marlborough

Jessica's Garden is a store—and a restaurant! Photo by Ally Noel

5. Jessica’s Garden — Marlborough 

Grab a seat around the pond at this unique dining establishment. Typically, lobster shacks located in garden stores might raise eyebrows, but somehow, Jessica’s garden pulls it off. Enjoy hot dogs, hot buttered lobster rolls, smoothies, and ice cream in this enchanting outdoor location. 

6. Captain's Cove  — Bridgeport 

Located in historic Black Rock Harbor, Captains Cove has been a summer fun destination since the ‘80s. After dining, guests can stroll down the boardwalk and enjoy the marina and shops. Events and live music are starting to be scheduled, so be sure to check their website for updates. 

7. B.J. Ryan’s BANC House — Norwalk 

Located in the Wall Street Neighborhood of Norwalk, B.J. Ryan's BANC House serves delicious food in a fun atmosphere. The kids' menu is packed with favorites like macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, and burgers. Don’t skip the fried pickles and leave enough room for dessert.

8. Rose’s Berry Farm — Glastonbury

Before picking berries to bring home, join Rose's for a hearty breakfast (Sundays only) which, of course, includes berries from the farm. Sunday breakfasts start for the season on June 14. Relax and enjoy the views while dining on waffles, pancakes, and more. Rose's also offers pies and jams made from their harvest. Please note that pets are not allowed. 

RELATED: Pick-Your-Own Berry and Fruit Farms in Connecticut

Match Burger Lobster in westport

Pair lobster salad with some fries at Match Burger Lobster. Photo by Ally Noel

9. Match Burger Lobster — Westport 

A fun twist on the traditional CT road shack, Match Burger Lobster offers a whimsical menu that will please all ages. Bonus points: it has a sidewalk cafe and an open-roof, heated patio. Reservations are recommended, and there is a time limit of one hour on each table, as capacity is limited at this popular spot. 

10. White Hart Provisions — Salisbury 

Provisions is a grab-n-go spot located in the beautiful White Hart Inn. With an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients, Provisions is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and everything in between. Guests can eat their food at one of the tables spread out across the porch and huge lawn while enjoying the charm of Litchfield County. 

11. Flipside — Fairfield 

Located in downtown Fairfield, Flipside provides a fun and casual dining experience for families. It's known for its specialty burgers like the mac n’ cheese burger, chip and dip burger, and the cheesy Hawaiian burger. The restaurant features a huge outdoor patio, which is said to have a "Miami vibe. 

12. Frog Rock Rest Stop — Eastford 

Tucked in the quiet corner, Frog Rock Rest Stop is truly a hidden gem hiding in the woods. This rest stop on Route 44 in Eastford has attracted visitors for more than a century with its iconic rock, painted to look like a frog. But it was only until recently that folks could grab a bite to eat and listen to some tunes. It’s such a quirky little spot in the woods, and everyone is guaranteed to leave with a smile. 

13. Lyman Orchards — Middlefield

Besides being one of the best pick-your-own destinations in the state, Lyman Orchards also boasts one of the best little family markets stocked high with local produce. The Basket also makes some delicious sandwiches, like the "Cortland" (turkey, Muenster cheese, cranberry mayo, and crispy cucumber) or the "Crispin" (grilled chicken, cheddar, onions, and a slice of apple). A pre-prepared picnic basket full of food for takeout is also offered. And did I mention fresh pies? Enjoy a meal out on the spacious patio with picnic tables and eat as you watch local fowl frolic on the pond.

14. Harry's Place — Colchester

Harry's Place is a beloved summer destination to come to and eat with the family. It has plenty of diet-busting comfort foods on the menu. Start with a cheeseburger or calamari and end with a double-scoop sundae. There is plenty of outdoor seating under the umbrellas, and currently, it's drive-thru only to pick up food. Be part of a hundred-year tradition!

Lenny & Joe's has a charity carousel for the kids. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

15. Lenny and Joe's — Madison

Lenny and Joe's Seafood is a restaurant that everyone remembers. The Madison location has a huge outdoor eating area and something fun for the kids: a carousel! Clam strips, lobster, scrod, and salmon are on the vast menu. Kids will love the kids' cod or clam strips platter and the cheeseburger/hot dog options. Indoor dining is closed, but the outdoor kiosk is open, weather permitting. Call ahead to check if the carousel is open.

16. Lobster Landing — Clinton

Lobster Landing is an adorable hole-in-the-wall seafood restaurant with a limited menu, but tons of charm. It's literally right next to the water. It's so close that sometimes it has to close due to high tide! The restaurant claims to have the best lobster roll in New England. Order one and put it to the test. 

17. Down the Hatch — Brookfield

Located on Candlewood Lake, Down the Hatch has a big menu including seafood and food for land-lubbers alike. Kids get a kick out of watching the boats come in and out of the docks, and they might even spot someone coming in for a landing on a sea plane. Down the Hatch opens for the season on May 8.

18. Guida's — Middlefield

Guida's is a fun, traditional drive-up restaurant with a satisfying menu of all the good things like crispy fries, clams, and the 10-inch hot dog that it's famous for. Take a seat at the outdoor picnic tables and watch for classic cars to pull in. Guida's is easy to spot from the road. Just look for Betty Boop.

19.  G.W. Tavern — Washington Depot

A historic home turned tavern, the G.W. Tavern is named for the most famous G.W. ever - George Washington! There is tons of outdoor dining space with a large landscaped yard full of flowers that kids can stretch their legs in. The restaurant is next to the Shepaug River and is open six days a week, closed on Wednesdays.

20. Sea View Snack Bar — Mystic

Enjoy a family meal at a picnic table right along the Mystic River. Kids love the views (especially when the kayakers go by) as well as the hamburgers, French fries, and foot-long hot dogs. The snack bar is open until 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and there's plenty of room for sitting outside.

This post was originally published on July 31, 2020.


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