Life is stressful, particularly for those who have kids. And nothing quite takes off the edge like a couple of drinks. But what to do when you can’t find a sitter or don’t feel like shelling out $20 an hour for someone to watch the kids?
Simple — bring them along. These are some of Houston's top kid-friendly bars. To clarify, this list is reserved predominantly for local joints, not places that cater to families and just so happen to serve alcohol (Top Golf, Downtown Aquarium, Dave & Buster’s, etc.).
Note: As always, please drink responsibly, but especially here.
10. SPINDLETAP BREWERY
Shortly after opening last holiday season, Spindletap hosted an event in which families could purchase a gingerbread house to build and decorate. All proceeds went to local charities. Plus, the beer is awesome, the burgers are on point and kids routinely get together outside to throw the football around. (10622 Hirsch, spindletapbrewery.com)
For starters, Beaver’s features a patio – a must for anyone looking to knock down a couple of beers with kids in tow. Second, Beaver’s offers a diverse array of a kid’s culinary favorite – mac 'n’ cheese – including classic mac, barbecue mac and Frito pie mac. Add in one of the best bars inside the 610 Loop, and you have an ideal spot for families. (2310 Decatur, beavershouston.com)
8. WAKEFIELD CROWBAR
Crowbar features tasty burgers, cold beer and, for the little ones, awesome big cookies. The patio is spacious, and considering it’s popular with Garden Oaks families, odds are your kid will find a playmate in no time. And when it’s not league night, the kids can usually play on one of Crowbar’s three sand volleyball courts, a.k.a. giant sandboxes. (954 Wakefield, wakefieldcrowbar.com)
7. WEST ALABAMA ICE HOUSE
Kid-friendly, and they mean it. Seriously, during last year's floods, while I was stranded in a parking lot with my two boys, we walked over and waited out the rains at West Alabama. The staff couldn't have been more accommodating. That's just how it rolls at West Alabama Ice House, one of the friendliest joints in Houston. (1919 West Alabama, twitter.com/theWIAH)
6. NO LABEL BREWING CO.
A bit of a drive for non-Katy types, but well worth it. The taproom is open daily, but every Saturday from noon to 3, the brewery opens up into a family extravaganza. Locals bring chairs and picnics, No Label serves up quality beer and live music plays throughout. For the kids, there's plenty of space to roam, food trucks and a basketball goal. (5351 1st Street, Katy, nolabelbrew.com)
5. ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE
It’s not often easy to find time-consuming activities for kids in the summer, mostly because the temperature hovers around 100 degrees from June to September. Fortunately, both Drafthouse locations offers free kids' movies on select days, which enables parents to occupy their kids without running the risk of heatstroke. With boozy milkshakes and a number of local beers on tap, plus a place to sneak in a quick nap while “Happy Feet” keeps the kids busy, the Drafthouse makes for an ideal summer spot. (Two Houston-area locations, drafthouse.com/Houston)
4. KARBACH BREWING CO.
Combine some of the best craft beer in Houston with ample outdoor space and a kid- and dog-friendly policy, and Karbach is immensely popular with families looking to spend a little time outdoors while enjoying some local brew. Seating is ample, the music is good and you don't even have to take the kids to Karbach's sit-down restaurant — food trucks usually occupy the brewery's outdoor area. (2032 Karbach, karbachbrewing.com)
3. 8TH WONDER BREWERY
Sticking with breweries, 8th Wonder gets a slight nod over Karbach, mostly because its outdoor space is unparalleled, which means plenty of room for kids to run around. The beer is great, the games are on 8th Wonder's indoor TVs, a food truck is always on site and the brewery has really stepped up its game in terms of hosting local vendors and events and showcasing live music. (2202 Dallas, 8thwonderbrew.com)
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A big outdoor space, some of which is covered (a lifesaver during rainy season). Great food (including the occasional crawfish boil). Foosball and cornhole. Plus, one of the best, most diverse beer selections in Houston. Yep, Cottonwood has it all. That’s probably why the place is dominated by families on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. (3422 North Shepherd, cottonwoodhouston.com)
1. CEDAR CREEK
Sure, it’s probably not the most sanitary thing in the world to let your kids play in the little creek that runs through Cedar Creek’s outdoor patio space. And yeah, the giant blocks most kids use to build things are technically for Giant Jenga. That said, Cedar Creek offers a kids menu and crayons and paper, to go along with quality food and one of the best beer selections in Houston. In short, Cedar Creek management knows its clientele. Cedar’s sister bars (Onion Creek, Canyon Creek and Dry Creek) are all kid-friendly in their own right. (1034 West 20th, cedarcreekcafe.com)