Just because you have kids, doesn't mean you can't enjoy going out for a beer once in a while. And taking the kids along is fine as long as you choose your watering holes wisely. Bringing your kids to bars is a great way to hang out as a family, while you get to go out and have some fun, too. In order to keep the other patrons happy as well, these are some good general guidlines: arrive early, stick to bars with ample space (outdoor if possible) and bars that welcome kids with kid-friendly food.
If you're game for taking the kids to a family-friendly bar, here are the best ones to try:
55 Little West 12th St
Meat Packing District, Manhattan
When a bar has a kids menu, you know you are in the right place. This beautiful bar with an all-wood interior makes you feel like you are drinking in an underground Finnish sauna and they have a truly awesome beer menu with over 75 imported beers. The fish and chips are first rate and the kids menu serves up all the classics all for $6.95. Pair that with kid-friendly live Irish Music and you're in heaven, but the new roof deck gets you even closer to heaven.
Bohemian Beer Garden
2919 24th Ave
Filled with picnic tables and a stage it's the lastoriginal remaining beer garden in all of NYC which at one time hadhundreds of them. And it is perfect for kids which is why you will see lots of them. The grill serves up yummy sausages, grilled portobello mushrooms and your standard burgers and hotdogs. The delicious Czech beer comes in frothy pitchers, making it a perfect place to go with a crowd. If you get really entrenched in the scene you can even sign your kids up for their free Czech language classes.
326 Spring St
This city landmark has been around since 1817, and it was also one of the first bars to have paper table clothes and crayons for kids to go wild on (adults are welcome to draw, too). The Ear in serves good food and if the kids get restless before you're done, you can tell them about the ghost that haunts the building.
East River Bar
97 S. 6th Street (near Bedford Ave)
This old 1920s paint factory became the East River Bar in 2004, and is decorated with a little bit of everything from the era (including an old dismantled bike). Kids will love the pool table, pinball machine, foosball table and jukebox, and the whole family will love the outdoor patio, where patrons grill up their own BYOBBQ. Cheap, outdoors and with games for the kids? Now that's a gem.
79 N 11th St
Open Fri 6-11pm, Sat Noon-5pm
This hipster and twenty-something hang out is also home to the families of Williamsburg. It has more of the feel of being at a friend's BBQ party than a bar, which really adds to the family-friendly atmosphere. $20 will get you 6 beers on tap, but arriving early is priceless, since it can secure you a table amongst the chaos. Patrons pretty much hang out, order pizza in (menus are displayed by the entrance), play cards and the like. It is also extremely loud, so not as much need to worry about the kids getting a bit loud themselves.
629 Vanderbilt Ave
Park Slope, Brooklyn
In the 1930s, Soda Bar was a hoppin' ice cream parlor. Today, it's just a hoppin' bar--offering cheap draft bears, fish and chips and other bar food--and an old fashion soda fountain feel for patrons, parents, and their kids. The vintage posters, colors and seats really make this place unique, plus it has an outdoor deck, filled with rockers and strollers alike.
702 Union Street
Park Slope, Brooklyn
Painstakingly converted from a warehouse, Union Hall offers cozy firesides, a stately library, two indoor bocce courts, outdoor garden seating, and a downstairs bar and music venue. The website warns "You must be 21 or older with a valid ID to enter Union Hall, no exceptions," except if the expception is your pre-tween entourage. Kids are welcome to come play (though of course not welcome at the actual bar), while you can play bocce or enjoy the library. If the library is too quiet, there's also an outdoor garden for the little ones to get a little more wild.
Also see our list of the best kid-friendly outdoor drinking spots in New York City.
Note: It is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to be at the actual bar or consume alcoholic beverages in New York State. Children should remain at tables and, of course, adults should drink responsibly.
Photo Credit: Keaggy