Outdoor Restaurants in NJ with Kid-Friendly Backyards and Outdoor Seating
Lingering over a summer meal with children is always more relaxing outside, where restless kids are free to stretch their legs, explore, and watch the world go by. Warm-weather dining options abound at these outdoor restaurants in New Jersey, from waterfront decks and sandy patios to tree-shaded courtyards and grassy gardens.
Before venturing out, be sure to check each businesses' website. Reservation policies may have changed, seating times and party sizes may be limited to accommodate social distancing guidelines. All guests must wear a mask anytime they're not seated at their table. You may be asked to view the menu on a mobile device or use a single-use paper version.
1. McLoone's Boathouse – West Orange
Within the South Mountain Recreation Complex, this waterside family restaurant features classic American fare with a lovely view of the Orange Reservoir. A kids' menu offers pasta, chicken, grilled cheese, steak frites, and burgers. Other favorites include crab cakes, calamari, and ahi tuna nachos, along with steaks, burgers, and seafood. Enjoy a post-meal stroll around the reservoir, go for a spin on the paddleboats, or burn off energy at the Regatta Playground.
2. Nomad Pizza – Princeton and Hopewell
Wood-fired pizza on a wide, shaded patio makes for a perfect summer evening. Throw in locally sourced pizza toppings, select Sonoma wines, or BYO beverages—plus kid-friendly service—and everyone's happy.
There are plenty of little activities to keep kids busy at the Elysian Cafe.
3. Elysian Cafe – Hoboken
Bistro fare or weekend brunch can be enjoyed at this sun-dappled corner sidewalk cafe, which is ideal for a lazy summer meal. The mussels and pommes frites or French-cut chicken breast are treats for you, while chicken fingers, pasta, and grilled cheese make the kids happy. Little ones can totter around the fenced-in sidewalk cafe, stacking pebbles from the tree beds or clambering atop the small, stone garden walls.
4. The Corner Cafe Bistro – Long Branch
Have a light bite while taking in ocean views, as well as the hustle and bustle of Pier Village, at The Corner Cafe Bistro. Grab coffees, sandwiches, salads, and desserts at the outdoor dining area right on the pier.
5. O'Brian's on the Green – Clark
Overlooking the Hyatt Hills Golf Complex, this scenic restaurant boasts a kid-friendly array of burgers, pizzas, salads, and sandwiches. On weekends, local musicians entertain diners. Treat the family to a round of mini-golf while you're there.
6. Pier 13 – Hoboken
The Hudson River is the backdrop for this eclectic collection of food trucks, serving everything from Thai and falafel to gourmet pizza and street tacos, not to mention ice cream, coffee, sangria, and beer. Grab a table at the end of the pier, snag a bench along the riverfront, or spread out a blanket in nearby Maxwell Park to enjoy an alfresco meal while the kids play.
Take in the gorgeous views at Porta.
7. Porta Pizza – Asbury Park and Jersey City
Neapolitan pizzas made with filtered water, imported flour, and tomatoes, then topped with house-made ricotta and mozzarella, are delicious anywhere you eat them. Spread out on picnic tables on the beachy patio in Asbury; they are a summer treat to be savored. Wait times for a table can be long, so snag a reservation in advance.
8. River and Rail Cantina – Cranford
2021 update: Seating is by reservation, and only parties of 4-8 are accepted.
Classic Mexican fare, including sizzling fajitas, cheesy quesadillas, and tangy fish tacos all taste better under the fairy lights on this cantina's patio. Kids can run around in the grassy yard while dinner is prepared.
9. Rusty Nail – Cape May
2021 update: Open for outdoor dining, but reservations are highly recommended. Choose from patio, sandpit, or picnic tables.
Gather 'round the sandy fire pit at this re-imagined surfers' hangout, or let the kids play with pails and shovels while you enjoy live music. Send the older kids off to play pingpong, and watch them from the Adirondack chairs. Children's menu items at this southern shore fave include hot dogs, mini pizzas, and mac and cheese. Kids' meals are served on a Frisbee with a chocolate chip cookie on the side, and there's even a menu for pooches!
10. Stage House Tavern – Scotch Plains, Mountainside, & Somerset
2021 update: All locations open for outdoor seating. Reservations are required.
Early dinners on the broad, shady patio are family affairs, with top menu picks including homemade ravioli, tacos, pizza, and salads. An extensive cocktail menu and live music make the Stage House a great destination for the whole fam. Stage House is also the perfect spot for Sunday brunch.
Enjoy a meal in the Stirling Hotel's lovely back garden in the nice weather.
11. Stirling Hotel – Stirling
2021 update: Reservations are required, and slots are for 2 hours. Lawn games are removed during the pandemic.
A rustic interior gives way to a sunny back garden, where in summer months, parents can enjoy craft beer and comfort food while kids play backyard games like bocce and cornhole. Live music in the garden makes for a mellow weekend afternoon.
12. Boardwalk Bar and Grill – Point Pleasant
Take in relaxing ocean views while chowing down on seafood, salads, and pasta, plus burgers and pizza for the kids, at this popular boardwalk eatery. Diners can sit just steps away from the sand or on the rooftop for views of the beach and boardwalk action.
13. Zeppelin Hall Biergarten and Restaurant – Jersey City
Pretzels, potato salad, bratwurst, and beer are served up at long, shared picnic tables at this large hall and outdoor garden. Families are welcome during the day and early evening—a kids' menu featuring burgers, chicken, and mac and cheese is offered until 8pm, and a full brunch menu is served on weekends until 4pm. If you visit on the weekend, don't miss the brisket, only available Friday through Sunday. Grab a seat under an umbrella on a sunny afternoon.
Char Burger is a great spot for outdoor dining and for kids to play. Photo by Kaylynn Chiarello Ebner
14. Char Burger & Creamery – Bridgewater
Redbank and Raritan steak lovers know Char as the place to go for a special night out, but something new and more family-friendly has popped up in Bridgewater. Char Burger & Creamery has a delectable assortment of burgers, dogs, and chicken, but the best part is the large patio with tables and umbrellas that houses a large playground for kids. There's an ice cream window right off the playground with shakes and cones. It's counter service, but you can avoid the wait by ordering online in advance.
15. Liberty House – Jersey City
Liberty House makes you feel like you've stepped into another world where calm meets the buzz of the city. You can eat outside and enjoy the beautiful grounds with a sweeping view of NYC. The incredible outdoor section has beautiful lawns for pics and stretching your legs. Take in the Manhattan skyline from comfy cabanas and patio tables.
16. Proving Ground – Highland
Relax and enjoy waterfront dining on a lovely patio where every table has a view of the ocean. There's a large assortment of sharable plates and sandwiches to choose from, whether you're in the mood for a salmon BLT, tacos, or a blackened chicken sandwich. Looking for something more substantial? You'll find a nice variety of seafood as well as traditional comfort food, like chicken pot pie, ribs, and meatloaf. The kids' menu has lots of nice options: fish & chips, mozzarella sticks, quesadillas, noodles, and chicken fingers.
Kids can walk around on the huge deck at the Windlass Restaurant and Marina.
17. Windlass Restaurant and Marina – Lake Hopatcong
2021 update: Reservations are required.
Rebuilt in 2015, this lakeside treasure features breezy outdoor seating on the deck and special events throughout the summer season. The menu features Italian favorites like calamari and eggplant Parmesan, in addition to the Jersey club and specialty pizza and burgers. As a bonus, on busy summer evenings, you can play a round of mini-golf at the adjacent course while you wait for a table.
18.Inn of the Hawke – Lambertville
Relax on the flagstone patio, which has a lush garden and the graceful canopy of 100-year-old sycamore trees. The menu changes weekly, incorporating local ingredients, but on any day, you'll find a mix of comfort foods and exciting hearty and light entrees, plus wings and an extensive menu of craft beer.
19. Ho-Ho-Kus Inn & Tavern – Ho-Ho-Kus
This lovely restaurant has some history to it. While it's been renovated and expanded several times, its origins date back to 1796, and it has been serving guests since the early 1800s. Today, you can enjoy lunch, dinner, or Sunday brunch on the beautiful patio, which has a relaxed, but elegant garden vibe. The kids' menu has several options, including steak, salmon, chicken, burgers, grilled cheese, and pasta.
20. Dough Artisan Pizzeria – Caldwell
Calling all pizza lovers! This one's for you! Dough offers an enormous selection of wood-fired pizza and has a fenced patio, so you know you're in for the perfect family night out. You can also order pasta, salads, apps, and there's even a kids' menu if your children prefer meatballs, grilled cheese, or mac & cheese.
Unless noted, photos courtesy of the restaurants
Places featured in this article:
River and Rail Cantina
The Corner Cafe Bistro
O'Brian's on the Green
Char Burger and Creamery
Inn of the Hawke
Stage House Tavern
Stage House Tavern
Stage House Tavern
Board Walk Bar and Grill
Windlass Restaurant and Marina
Zeppelin Hall Biergarten and Restaurant