Breweries are built for brewing beer. But breweries with taprooms seem to have been built for drinkers with children. Visit any DC-area brewery on a Friday before 7 p.m. (or any daylight hours on Saturday or Sunday) and you may feel like you’re in a Chuck E. Cheese. Take advantage of these adult playgrounds, which in these cases double as children’s playgrounds.
P.S.: If you’re uncomfortable bringing children to a brewery, you’re not going to the right brewery. (So go instead to one of these, below.)
Hands down the best brewery — maybe even the best spot overall — for families with small children. Conveniently located off the Metropolitan Branch Trail, you can easily bike to the brewery — or you can take the Red Line and walk a few blocks from the Brookland stop. You can also find parking easily, if you’re willing to walk a block or two. In other words, the location is perfect.
The space is large but not massive, which means you can keep an eye on your kid as they run around. There’s space for them indoors and out. The outdoor area is conveniently located above the bike trail, which allows kids to admire bicycles and the trains that run alongside it (don’t worry, there’s a fence preventing the mini-trainspotters from getting into too much trouble). Both areas have toys to occupy the little ones (think push carts and other plastic-based vehicles). Inside has arcade games and pinball, toys for all ages.
The food and beverage options are excellent. There’s a rotating food truck schedule, and the brewery is cool if you bring outside food. They typically have kid-friendly snacks, too. Finally: The beer is good. It’s good to go to a place with good beer.
A note that’s not City-State specific: When you’re planning a trip with wild variables (children are wild variables), you need backups. City-State has backups. If it’s too busy, walk a block south to metrobar. If that’s too busy, walk a block and change north to Dew Drop Inn (the most kid-friendly bar in DC). If you want to visit a second brewery, the brand-new Lost Generation Brewery is about a 15-minute walk, the perfect time to get an infant to fall asleep on you inside of a BabyBjörn. One of the reasons City-State is ideal is the plethora of second locations.
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A rooftop spot, Denizens is barely outside DC, just a quarter-mile north into Silver Spring. This one is good for larger groups of little ones. The beer garden doesn’t exactly cater to the under-21 set, but if you’re planning a get-together for adults and a few kids will be in attendance, this place is great. They can run around and play under tables, and it’s somewhat easy to keep them all corralled. Also, it’s funny when a kid pops out from under a table and surprises drinkers that did not know a child was under their table.
Friday evenings here feel like Pizza Hut when you were a kid. If you’re childless, I would recommend staying away until at least 7:30 p.m. If you’re looking for some with-child company, there’s no better brewery. Most every Friday, El Jefe Brick Oven Pizza or Cafe Vino Brick Oven Pizza helps to turn the place into a family restaurant. But unlike family restaurants, brick oven-fired pizzas actually taste good.
If you’re still mourning the loss of nearby 3 Stars, Hellbender does a fine job filling the void. Oh, almost forgot: They have a Super Nintendo, too. Both adults and kids like the original MarioKart.
You know what kids love to do? Run around farms. You know what parents like to do? Drink beer in peace, knowing their kids are (relatively) safe and confined. If you’re willing to drive an hour from DC to the picturesque Ellicott City, this may become your favorite weekend destination. If you need a second location to justify the drive, do some vintage shopping downtown; it looks like it’s out of the Gilmore Girls set.
The Brooklyn-based brewery opened an Ivy City outpost a few years ago, and it’s still quite popular in the beer-nerd community. Couple it with the nearby flagship Atlas Brew Works, and you’ve got yourself a fine mini-brewery crawl. Visit either adult establishment after taking the kid(s) to the extremely close The Lane, an indoor play area that’ll wear out any child.
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