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 has to be outdoors. Luckily, it’s summer in the city which means 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 open this summer.
221 N. Columbus Blvd.
This summertime favorite overlooks the river with views of the Ben Franklin Bridge and the marina below, and they’ve added even more outdoor seating this year to help everyone stay safe and socially distanced. Reservations are strictly required, and tables of 1-6 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.
If you can’t get a reservation (or aren’t ready to venture out yet), you can still enjoy Morgan’s Pier at home! They have the largest cocktail-to-go menu in the city with signature summer favorite cocktails and frozen drinks, like Rocket Pop, boozy Cherry Italian Ice, Ecto Cooler, Shark Bite, Spiked Lemonade, and more. If you’re looking for something a little tamer, they also have over a dozen different beers on tap and cans, including exclusive Mainstay Independent Brewing Mainstay Pier Beer on draft. Their food is also available for both on-site dining and takeout, and includes snacks, sandwiches, “fatbreads,” and a kids’ menu.
Fairmount Horticulture Center, 100 N. Horticultural Drive
Fairmount Water Works, 640 Waterworks Drive (behind Philadelphia Museum of Art)
Parks on Tap — the brilliant creation of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, the Fairmount Park Conservancy, and FCM Hospitality —delightfully surprised us when it returned earlier this season. Due to the global pandemic, the outdoor beer garden announced that it would pop-up for the entire summer at the Fairmount Horticulture Center Arboretum rather than its usual tour of city parks each week. And starting July 9, a second location at Fairmount Water Works will also be open!
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, cheesesteaks, hoagies, and more. Kids’ favorites like hotdogs, 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.
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!
100 S. Independence Mall W.
So many things are closed in Philly, but that can’t stop you from taking a little self-guided history tour and visiting Independence Mall, pointing out important sites along the way. When you’re done wistfully looking at the Liberty Bell through glass, head across the street for some delicious beer and bites courtesy of Independence Beer Garden. The vibe is definitely a little different this year—no ordering at the bar, 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. Also worth splurging on: Nutella Funnel Cake. Yes, you read that correctly! Sandwiches, salads, sharable bites, and a kids’ menu round out the selection here, and there is definitely something for everyone.
1438 South St.
Years ago, PHS really got the ball rolling on seasonal pop-ups, and they’ve just re-opened their South Street home for the summer and will be open through October. The beautifully designed site features new flowers and foliage that evoke the Mediterranean (a callback to this year’s Flower Show), and is a lovely place to enjoy food, craft brews, cocktails, and a lovely little oasis to take in unique horticulture.
This year’s menu highlights local Philadelphia restaurants including Cantina Los Caballitos, Khyber Pass Pub, Cantina Dos Segundos, Royal Tavern, Triangle Tavern, Royal Boucherie, and Royal Susi & Izakaya. 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 frosty orange Gritty Granita, 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 using an online point of sale system. Once the order is placed within the garden, a server will bring food and drinks to each table. Everything (including condiments) is single-use this year.
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! For everyone age 8 and older, masks must be worn when moving around, but can be removed once you are seated at your table. In order to keep attendance controlled for social distancing, they have a 90-minute time limit per table.
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 pickup and delivery.
In order to maintain social distancing, they have limited seating, and cannot accommodate parties larger than six people. They aren’t doing reservations, so put your name on a waitlist when you arrive, and they’ll text or call when your table is ready. All guests must wear masks at all times, except when seated.
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 summer, Bok is 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 choices will change each week, so be sure to keep up with their social media and come often for unparalleled views of the city. In addition, they are partnering with local organizations for fun events—including some family-friendly ones like art and hip-hop dance—so be sure to check their calendar when strategizing when to make that rezzie and be sure to get tickets, too!
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 offers so much more than bowling right now. Their outdoor space The Yard is open Tuesday through Sunday evenings and 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. They are planning family happy hour bowling soon, so stay tuned!
Lead photograph by Laura Swartz.