Sometimes the only beverage we can handle after drinking buckets of water is a frosty brew. Lucky for us, D.C. has a booming beer scene, with plenty of kid-friendly places to enjoy a cold one (without the need to hire a babysitter). Cheers, Mamas and Papas!
Dacha Beer Garden
Set in a little townhouse a block from the Shaw metro, Dacha is part swim up bar, part diamond in the rough. Kiddos can hang at the picnic tables flanked by a giant mural, while the grown-ups pop over to the walk up bar and try to figure out whether they want mead, cider, or an impressive selection of Deutschland authentic beers to drink from “Das Boot.” We’re not lying, they really do come in a boot glass, so make sure the kids have their favorite sippy cups so they don’t get jealous. There’s no formal kitchen here, but you’re welcome to bring outside food. Note: The toilets here are of the portable variety, but regulars swear they are the cleanest outdoor bathrooms ever.
1600 7th St., NW (Shaw U.)
If you want to give your pint-sized world traveler an authentic Oktoberfest experience, without the cost of airfare, then check out Biergarten Haus. Little ones will chow down on traditional German food like Spatzle mit Ziegenkaese (mac and cheese), Kartoffelsalat (warm potato salad) and Wurstplatten (sausages). Adults can sample some of the top German beers (Spaten, Eggenberg, Hofbrau). Everyone gets to jive to the surprise appearances by polka bands.
1355 H St., NW (H Street)
For fans of former Bardos, throw the kids in the car, and head to this Bardo. A reincarnation of the popular Arlington brewery, Bardo has reopened in Southeast as both brewery and beer garden. With room for 75 0 people, you can bring the kiddos and sprawl out. Older kids will love the corn hole games lined up on the side yard. It’s still getting its ducks in a row, so the future will see self-service taps, outside movies, and a full service restaurant. Its super rustic, so no need to dress the kids in their Sunday best.
25 Potomac Ave. SE
The Ale House Columbia
Fans of beer and good food flock to The Ale House Columbia because of its delicious house brews and kickin’ kids menu (think corn dogs, sliders, mac and cheese). With 13 house made ales to choose from, Mom and Dad might have to share in order to taste them all.
6480 Dobbin Center Way (Columbia, Md)
Heavy Seas Ale House
Arrg mateys! Pirate crazed little ones will love the buoys, peg legs and anchors climbing the walls at this alehouse. Tucked a block off Wilson, in Rosslyn, Heavy Seas is sure to give little mateys lots of fodder for make believe while Mom and Dad drink in some of Baltimore’s best home-made brews. The food is a step above pub grub (more like a couple steps) and will definitely fill up even picky eaters’ bellies. Our little taste testers went bananas for the soft pretzel covered in a crab and ale sauce, while grownups swoon over the Powder Monkey Pale Ale. All the beers are brewed in house (or Baltimore) so the menu changes seasonally, with six beers always in rotation in addition to specials.
1501 Wilson Blvd. (Arlington, Va)
Westover Beer Haus
Locals swear that Westover Beer Haus is the best place to hang with kids and enjoy a brew on a lazy Saturday afternoon. Hidden within the Westover Market, the Beer Haus is super fam-friendly with lots of other parents grabbing some shade and testing out one of the 16 micro brews they have on tap. With a giant volcano mural and twinkling lights outside, little ones will feel like they’ve stepped into a fairy tale oasis.
5863 Washington Blvd. (Arlington, Va)
Tucked away on 14th street is a marriage of American and Bavarian culture. Garden District is a fun, kid-friendly BBQ joint that pays homage to the biergartens of southern Germany with rows of picnic tables anchored by Hofbrau Munchen umbrellas, which help keep little melons from roasting in the sun. Kiddos can tuck into some homemade cider donuts, while Mom and Dad sip an ice cold draft of Weihenstephaner hefe-weissbier or Kostritzer Schwarzbier (both are top German beers). For extra good little girls and boys, Garden District offers Coca-Cola Classic with real sugar, or Boylan’s orange cream soda.
1801 14th St., NW (U Street)
Capitol City Brewing Company
The very first brewery that opened in D.C. after Prohibition, Cap City is a favorite of local beer fans; including parents. There’s 7 or 8 seasonal brews always on tap and some are so fresh they’ve come out of the cask only hours before. Little ones are welcomed with their own menus, and depending on your seat, you can watch the brewmasters stir the hops, check the tanks and maybe sneak a taste or two. P.S. There's also a Capital City in Shirlington!
1100 New York Ave., NW
Port City Brewing Company
If you’re looking for a port in the storm, sail on over to Port City Brewery where fresh, local craft beer is always on tap. Tours ($10/person) are available on the weekends, and each ticket allows you to sip some of the tastiest IPA, Pale Ale, Porter and Belgian White this side of the Potomac. Kiddos will be in awe of the giant steel casks, checkered floor and history behind making beer in Alexandria. Port City’s so kid friendly they even warned us when the tour was starting to make sure the bell ringing didn’t scare the little ones. Ice cold craft beer and kid courteous staff? Win-win.
3950 Wheeler Ave. (Alexandria, Va)
MacDowel Brew Kitchen
Craft beer aficionados regularly gather here with their littles who like to play and build sand castles on the year-round beach outfitted with a couple of fire pits for chilly afternoons. With a full menu, this is the perfect spot for a laid back weekend brunch.
202-B Harrison St., SE (Leesburg, Va)
Do you have a favorite family-friendly beer garden, brewery or ale house. Give us the lowdown in the comments section below.
—Hilary Riedemann and Ayren Jackson-Cannady