Kid-Friendly Philly Beer Gardens for Socially-Distant Sips
Mask up and pack your sippy cups!
Thanks to the ongoing pandemic, if we’re going to be eating out these days, it is likely outdoors. Luckily, it’s the time for seasonal beer gardens to pop up all over town! So many of these fabulous places are extra fabulous because they are not just a great place to grab a drink while enjoying the outdoors (and social distancing), but they welcome kids, too!
No matter where you choose to go, please be sure to exercise caution, wear a mask, follow the venue’s safety rules, and above all treat the staff with kindness and patience (and tip well); we are all in this together! With these guidelines in mind, here are our favorite places that are opening up with the warm weather.
221 N. Columbus Blvd.
Now entering its tenth year, this spring and summertime favorite overlooks the river with views of the Ben Franklin Bridge and the marina below. Last year they added even more outdoor seating to help everyone stay safe and socially distanced. Reservations are highly recommended; walk-up reservations are available if space permits. Tables of up to 10 guests will be allotted a 90-minute window of time to enjoy the sips, bites, and views. Masks are required when you’re walking around, but can be removed when you are seated at your table.
This year’s expanded menu includes seafood, snacks, small plates, “fatbreads,” sandwiches, sweets, and a kids’ menu. Also new for this year, six flavors of boozy popsicles! Of course, they also have great cocktails and over a dozen different beers on tap and cans, including exclusive Mainstay Independent Brewing Mainstay Pier Beer on draft. If you can’t get a reservation (or aren’t ready to venture out yet), you can still enjoy Morgan’s Pier at home with food and cocktails to-go. Dine-in and take-out menus are available in contactless format.
Finally, for the furry members of your family, Morgan’s Pier is planning monthly “yappy hours” from 4–6 pm, where guests can bring their dogs and sip for a cause with a portion of signature cocktails during that time being donated to PSPCA.
Fairmount Horticulture Center, 100 N. Horticultural Drive
Wednesdays through Sundays
During the pandemic, Parks on Tap — the brilliant creation of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, the Fairmount Park Conservancy, and FCM Hospitality —has popped up at the Fairmount Horticulture Center Arboretum rather than its usual tour of city parks each week. When it was colder, the Greenhouse made for a nice indoor Parks on Tap oasis, but now you can enjoy the cherry blossoms and beautiful outdoor grounds.
As always, the menu is full of delicious local food and drinks. Sandwiches incorporating Lost Bread Co. products (also found at Craft Hall) include pulled pork, hoagies, platters, and more. Kids’ favorites like cookies, and soft pretzels are also available. The drink menu features local breweries like Mainstay, Sly Fox, and Evil Genius. One notable draft, originally created for Parks on Tap, is Mainstay Independent Brewing Company’s Love Your Park Pale Ale. Wine and cocktails, as well as non-alcoholic beverages, are also on the menu. A portion of all Parks on Tap proceeds are donated to help restore and maintain Philly’s parks.
Online reservations are required, and masks must be worn when you are in line and walking around—you can take them off when sitting any eating. Social distancing markers will be measured out and posted throughout the garden (both in line and seating areas) and its outside fencing area as reminders for guests. All seating is first-come, first-served. If the beer garden is at capacity during the time guests come to visit, a waitlist will be established and guests will be encouraged to explore the park until they receive a text message that it’s their turn. What hasn’t changed is its family-friendly atmosphere, including a clean bathroom trailer—essential for littles!
Stay tuned, because we hear they are going to announce two new locations for Parks on Tap later this month!
121 N. Columbus Blvd.
Grab a reservation and hit up this unique open-air riverfront space for spectacular views of the Ben Franklin Bridge. While you’re there, check out the artists’ galleries, custom installations, and whatever surprises pop up (look for artisan markets throughout the season). For food, look for a menu of casual bites including sandwiches, salads, and snacks – our personal favorites are the French Toast Bites. For drinks, order beer, wine, cocktails, and non-alcoholic beverages from the converted shipping container-turned-bar.
1438 South St. (now open) and 106 Jamestown Ave. (opening mid-May)
Years ago, PHS really got the ball rolling on seasonal pop-ups, and they’ve just re-opened their South Street home for the season. The beautifully designed site features new flowers and foliage, and is a lovely place to enjoy food, craft brews, cocktails. This year’s menu highlights local Philadelphia restaurants including Cantina Los Caballitos and Khyber Pass Pub. A selection of curated cocktails, a variety of frozen drinks, craft beers, non-alcoholic beverages, wine, and snacks will also be available. We’ll definitely be lining up for the bright orange Frozen Gritty Marg, and we’ll be sure to keep a distance of six feet apart when waiting in line for bar service! If lining up for a bar isn’t in your comfort zone right now, diners also have the option of contactless service and can order and pay from their table by scanning their QR code. Once the order is placed within the garden, a server will bring food and drinks to each table.
To keep everyone safe, PHS have put away their lawn games this year, and discourage people from roaming around the gardens, so be aware of the tightened rules if you’re bringing kids who need to get their energy out! Masks must be worn when moving around, but can be removed once you are seated at your table.
Stay tuned, because later in the season, a second location will be opening in Manayunk (expect mid-May).
599 Market St.
Enjoy a family-friendly, pop-up dining experience presented by Visit Philadelphia on the second-floor, outdoor Liberty View Terrace at the Independence Visitor Center, featuring local brews from Workhorse Brewing Co. and Wissahickon Brewing Co., and festive foods (think nachos and hotdogs) and specialty cocktails by Brûlée Catering, including cocktail pouches! Online reservations are required, and are in two-hour timeslots. Tables are capped at 6 guests to ensure social distancing.
100 S. Independence Mall W.
After exploring the reopened historical sites, or nearby museums like the National Constitution Center, head across the street for some delicious beer and bites courtesy of Independence Beer Garden. The vibe is definitely a little different this year—there is now a reservable cabin in addition to regular seating, and the usual lawn games are put away for obvious reasons—but they still have delicious food and 40 taps of regional and domestic craft beers (plus cocktails and more).
Seating is first-come, first-served. If you aren’t comfortable leaving things to chance you can also order in advance for takeout, including drinks! Our favorite cocktail is the Gin Jawn, which aside from having the best name also has gin, mint, and strawberry. Sandwiches, tacos, salads, sharable bites, and plenty of kids’ favorites round out the selection here, and there is definitely something for everyone. You can also reserve a Picnic Basket to take and enjoy on the Mall!
1901 S. Ninth St. (enter on Mifflin St. near Eighth St.)
It used to be that this South Philly rooftop hotspot only allowed kids on Sunday afternoons, but this year that—along with everything else—has changed. This spring and summer, Bok will be open on a reservations-only basis and is welcoming all ages, all week! Dogs are also welcome, but must remain on leashes at all times.
Pop-up food and events will change each week, so be sure to keep up with their social media and come often for unparalleled views of the city. They will charge a $5 no-show fee per person on the reservation—unless they have to close due to bad weather. Each reservation is for a 90-120 minute stay so that others can come and enjoy the space, while remaining socially distant. As with everywhere else in Philly, masks are required as well.
19 E. Oregon Ave.
While we love bowling there in pre-COVID times, South Bowl will offer so much more than bowling this spring. Their outdoor space The Yard has outdoor games including bocce ball, shuffleboard, pool, video games, and batting cages (bring your own bat!) to entertain you while you enjoy tasty food and cocktail pouches featuring Stateside Vodka. They tell us that they get busy in the evening, so families might want to come in earlier (they open at 4 pm). Also, masks are a must for anyone over 2.
129 S. 30th Street
Located on the 1.2-acre Cira Green rooftop park, this unique setting gives you room to run around, beautiful views, and fun seasonal events like Cartoon Saturdays and movie nights!
1210 Frankford Ave.
This Fishtown favorite transports you to an open-air German Biergarten with eats like giant soft riesenpretzels and of course a variety of bratwurst and beers. The kindergarten kids’ menu also has favorites like chicken tenders, grilled cheese, hotdogs, and more. And if you save room, don’t miss out on the spiked s’mores milkshake! If you can’t get a table or prefer to stay home, they also offer delivery via Caviar.
Limited reservations are available, as well as walk-ins. All guests must wear masks at all times, except when seated.
Lead photograph by Laura Swartz.