Summertime and the living easy….or hard, depending on your tolerance for heat! If you love the fresh outdoors and are looking to soak up the sun while your dine, the DMV has loads of outdoor dining options for your fam. From pizza to pastelitos, below are some of the funnest and yummiest places to dine al fresco.

Photo: Cactus Cantina

Cactus Cantina
A nearly 30 year old staple in the Cathedral Heights neighborhood, Cactus Cantina is a fun, charming, casual, family-friendly restaurant serving delicious Mexican, Cuban, and Spanish dishes. It’s large (can seat up to 300 guests) and truly looks like an authentic Tex-Mex cantina. Their outdoor patio is the perfect place for your kids to nosh on chips while you sip on a frozen margarita! Before you leave, make a pit stop inside so the kids can check out the tortilla maker. 

3300 Wisconsin Ave., NW (Cathedral Heights)

Amalfi Ristorante Italiano
Little foodies can dine in the fresh air on Homemade Tortoni Amalfi (imagine crispy caramel over cold ice cream) after they’ve finished nibbling on White Fontina Cheese Pizza. While outside taking in the fabulous weather, Mom and Dad can pretend they’re lounging next to the Mediterranean as they sip Amalfi’s famous Limoncello Martini, and mangia on Crispy Cannelloni or Soft Shell Crabs. Don’t be surprised when free almond cookies come out at the end of your meal.

12307 Wilkins Ave. (Rockville, Md)

Photo: Millie’s

Millie’s Spring Valley
Things have definitely livened up in the Spring Valley/AU Park area of D.C.! Recently opened, Millie’s, is the second of its name; the original is in Nantucket, Mass. Their namesake, “Madaket Millie,” is a Nantucket legend who grew up on the island and volunteered for the Coast Guard. Millie’s is the ideal addition to this family filled neighborhood which also houses the American University Law School across the street. The restaurant pays homage to the stress-free, beachy Nantucket vibe and their menu is fresh California baja-style. There’s plenty of room on the patio and, after dinner, kids will LOVE going to the ice cream window and getting their fave Gifford’s flavor with fun toppings.

4866 Massachusetts Ave., NW

Pizzeria da Marco
Pizza is the best outdoor summer food! Pizzeria da Marco, in Bethesda, offers true Neapolitan pizza and, at the center of the restaurant, you can find a 4,500-pound hand-crafted brick oven shipped straight from NaplesBonus for parents of fidgety kids: the super oven cooks pizzas in a minute or less. Pizzeria da Marco’s has a large outdoor patio area and the menu is classic Italian also offering pizza alternatives like various mozzarellas and salads. And, hello, kids get free gelato! Major bonus!

8008 Woodmont Ave. (Bethesda, Md)

Photo: Guiomar Ochoa

Colada Shop
They had us at Cuban and Cascades! Walk into Colada Shop’s Sterling location (in the Cascades Overlook development), and your kids will love the colorful Cuba-inspired murals and bright tiles. Cuban pastries, Cuban coffee, sandwiches, and Cuban delicacies like pastelitos, croquetas and tortilla are on the menu hereThe patio is large and there’s even a walk-up counter where you can order your meal from the outside. Be forewarned, there are a number of fountains and splash pads the kids will want to jump in so take a change of clothes!

21430 Epicerie Plz. (Sterling, Va)

Mike’s Crab House
Is there anything more summery than crabs by the Bay?! Established in 1958, Mike’s Crab House brings you a family friendly, mouth-watering waterfront dining experience on the banks of the beautiful South River. Getting there by boat? No problem, Mike’s even has free boat dockage. Mike’s is as casual as it gets with paper-covered tables and shakers of Old Bay. Dine outside, and enjoy the mild Maryland summer evenings.

3030 Riva Road (Riva, Md)

Photo: Joe Flood via Flickr

Union Market
Appease the whole family’s appetite for indie bites at the continuously expanding Union Market, where you can stroll the 100 (and counting) stalls of this hip food-lovers haven. After purchasing your empanadas, gelato, or lox bagel sandwich, dodge the crowds by scooting outdoors with the kids. There are picnic tables scattered outside (and a few cornhole stations!), or you can find a mural wall nearby to lean against while lunching.

1309 5th St., NE. (Union Market)

Los Tios Grill
Del Ray families flock to Los Tios for the scrumptious fajitas, gigantic margaritas, and uber fun atmosphere. In the summer, the patio is filled with little ones chowing down on chips and salsa, imbibing in icy fresh lemonade and high-fiving the owner German. Show up on Friday or Saturday night, and you’ll lose the kids to the Mariachi band, balloon animal lady, or the Latin guitar player. Bright, colorful umbrellas shield little ones from the squelching D.C. sun during the day, while the playground across the street is a great way to burn off some energy after the niños pequeños have scarfed down their delicious Tres Leches dessert.

2615 Mount Vernon Ave. (Alexandria, Va)

open-city-dcPhoto: Open City 

Open City
For those little darlings who absolutely must get up at the crack of dawn, break out of the “I’m pretending I’m asleep, so you’ll leave me alone” rut, and head over to Open City’s patio (they open at 6 am!) where bright-eyed youngsters can nosh on fluffy French toast or the old staple of cheesy eggs while the sun rises over Woodley Park. If you need to burn off those snore inducing calories then hoof it up Connecticut Avenue to the National Zoo and check out the animals eating their breakfasts.

2331 Calvert St., NW (Woodley Park)

Wolf Trap
Dancing toddlers will love getting their groove on at Wolf Trap where kid favorites The Fresh Beat Band, Beauty and the Beast (the musical), The Pop Ups and Dane Zane are all slated to rock out this summer. Bring a picnic brunch, lunch, or dinner and make it a true “grown up” experience for your pint-sized music fans. Where else—but D.C.—can a little one dine under the stars, while taking in a performance at America’s National Park for the Performing Arts?


1645 Trap Rd. (Vienna, Va)

Good Stuff Eatery
Burger-loving, milkshake-drinking, hipsters-in-the-making kids will heart Good Stuff Eatery. After loading up on the Prez Obama burger (bacons, onions, cheese, horseradish), Sunny’s Handcut Fries, and a Toasted Marshmallow shake, grab a seat outside and start people watching. The activity on Pennsylvania Avenue will have your future politician practicing her campaign smile, while you contemplate enrolling her in private debate lessons. They have those right?

303 Pennsylvania Ave., SE (Capitol Hill)

Where is your favorite place to nosh with the kiddos outdoors? Tell us in the comments section below. 

—Guiomar Ochoa and Hilary Riedemann