Outdoor Restaurants in NJ with Kid-Friendly Backyards to Sample This Summer
Outdoor restaurants in NJ give you a chance to relax and linger over a summer meal with children. Restless kids are free to stretch their legs, explore, and watch the world go by. These outdoor restaurants in New Jersey have options ranging from waterfront decks and sandy patios to tree-shaded courtyards and grassy gardens.
Read on for our top picks for kid-friendly outdoor dining, and don't miss our round-up of NJ themed restaurants with interactive dining with interactive dining or our rundown of places where kids eat free. You can find tons of other great things to do in the Garden State this season in our Summer Fun Guide.
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1. McLoone's Boathouse – West Orange
Located 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, drunken mussels, 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 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 lobster roll 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 al fresco meal while the kids play.
Take in the gorgeous views at Porta Pizza.
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 happen eat them. Spread out on picnic tables on the beachy patio in Asbury, though, and 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
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 and play games while dinner is prepared.
9. Rusty Nail – Cape May
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 ping pong and watch them from the Adirondack chairs. Children's menu items at this 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
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 and 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
A rustic interior gives way to a sunny back garden where 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. 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 their more family-friendly outpost in Bridgewater is a definite hot spot. Char Burger & Creamery has a delectable assortment of burgers, dogs, and chicken, and the large patio with tables and umbrellas has a sizable 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. After dinner, gather around one of the firepits and make s'mores while you 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 fare, like steak, mac and cheese, and tacos. 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
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 wrap, specialty pizzas, 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. Pineapple Express Barbecue – Montclair
This barbecue spot and beer garden is located at the historic Lackawanna Station in Montclair. The menu highlights smoked meats by the pound, including brisket, ribs, and pulled pork, plus chicken tenders and burgers for the kiddos. Baked beans, street corn, waffle fries, and cornbread round out the menu, and there's a full bar inside. Lawn games and sand boxes will keep littles ones busy while you dine al fresco and enjoy live music events on some weekends.
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 an elegant-yet-relaxed 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-in patio, so you know you're in for the perfect family night out. You can also order pasta, salads, apps, and there's a kids menu with options like meatballs, grilled cheese, or mac & cheese.
Unless noted, photos courtesy of the restaurants