Sometimes all parents want to do is enjoy a relaxing family dinner out without the worry of entertaining kiddos or reserving an additional place at the table for the iPad. Luckily restaurants are getting the hint and providing kid-friendly entertainment in relaxing atmospheres. This means downtime for parents and fun for kids. Here are our favorite restaurant play areas that parents will enjoy just as much as their pint-sized counterparts.

station tavern Photo credit: Juje J. via Yelp

For Brews and Burgers: Station Tavern
Local brews and a place for the kids to run wild? Yes, please! Located in the hip community of South Park, Station Tavern offers brews, burgers, tater tots, and a special play area just for kids. While parents can enjoy a drink and tasty dinner (try the vegan black bean burger and sweet potato fries), kiddos can hang out in the sectioned-off play area in the back that’s perfect for toddlers and early-elementary kids. There’s even a small climbing structure and mini trolley. Keep in mind that Station Tavern is closed Mondays.

2204 Fern St.
San Diego, Ca 92104


Photo by Ryan And Ericka Adams of Bay Park Coffee

For a Latte and Snacks: Bay Park Coffee
Enjoy a killer roast and the Sunday paper while your kid has some time to unwind in the children’s alcove. There’s a wall-mounted chalkboard, easel with drawing paper, and lots of games. This spot is perfect for coffee aficionados and their wee ones alike, with plenty of healthy kid-friendly food and drinks that’ll delight everyone’s senses. Kids will love the non-caffeinated fruit smoothies and the acai bowls are pretty incredible too. Bay Park Coffee also has free WiFi if you need to catch up on email too.

4130 Napier St.
San Diego, Ca 92110

corvette dinerPhoto credit: Leah Singer

For 1950s Nostalgia: Corvette Diner
This Liberty Station restaurant practically screams family-friendly. It’s an old-school style diner with tasty food, ice cream shakes, and even adult beverages. The best part is the huge game room where you can buy a swipe card and have a blast. The employees offer some great entertainment too. Dressed in their best 1950s attire, the wait staff has been known to perform Grease classics and The Chicken Dance right in front of your table. If you’re there at the right time, they’ll enjoy watching a magician perform tricks and a balloon artist make some fancy creations. Plan for a wait on the weekends; but remember you can pass the time in the arcade.

2965 Historic Decatur Rd.
San Diego, Ca 92106

plan 9 alehousePhoto Credit: Sue F. on Yelp

For a New Taste in North County: Plan 9 Alehouse
Not only does Escondido’s newest brewery have great beers and tasty grub, it also has has a corner play area for the little ones. While mom and dad enjoy a relaxing dinner, the kiddos can play with toys, write on a chalk board and get crafty in a kid-friendly playspot designed for kids around 5 and under. If you’re there at the right time, some of the servers actually do magic tricks too.

155 E Grand Ave.
Escondido, Ca 92025

mountain mikePhoto Credit: Mountain Mike’s Facebook page

For Pizza and Play: Mountain Mike’s Pizza
Sports fans can catch the latest Padres game while little ones play in the kid area. There are games, building blocks and other toys to keep kids under 8 entertainment. Teens can keep busy with a few arcade games too. This is the place to go when you need to keep the whole gang happy. And even though the word “pizza” is the name of the business, Mountain Mike’s also has gluten-free options for those with dietary restrictions.

7377 Jackson Dr.
La Mesa, Ca 92119

3089 Clairemont Dr.
San Diego, Ca 92117


Where’s your favorite spot to grab a bite to eat and let the kids burn off some energy?

– Chelsea Day and Leah R. Singer