Dining al fresco with kids in tow gives your fam more space to spread out while eating outside and social distancing in a relaxing atmosphere. From beautiful San Diego skyline views and spacious patios to urban villages and public markets with roomy outdoor seating, we’ve found something for every taste. Scroll down to see our fave places in San Diego for outdoor dining at restaurants with patios.
Herb & Sea
Herb & Sea, located in Encinitas, has unveiled an 1,800 square-foot, bi-level patio built atop their former parking lot. Named for the iconic North County beach just a block away, The Moonlight Deck seats close to 100 diners, creating a magical outdoor dining destination amidst twinkling string lights and ocean breezes. The Moonlight Deck aims to transport guests to the rambling beaches of Cape Cod complete with ramshackle sand fencing and elegant striped umbrellas. Tucked back, away from the busy path of beach goers and the traffic of Highway 101, socially distanced tables make it an ideal coastal patio environment that feels more like a vacation getaway than just dinner out.
Escape and indulge in Chef Sara Harris' menu of Oysters on the Half Shell, Baja Shrimp Cocktail, Woodfired vegetables like Boardwalk Potatoes seasoned with Old Bay and Malt Vinegar, Plancha Fired Whole Branzino, or the cravable Peaches & Prosciutto pizza. A bottle of rosé or a craft cocktail like the Cloud & Glacier made with Meyer Lemon Vodka, Vanilla, Anisette, Vermouth Blanc and soda round out the experience. A kids menu is available too!
Dinner is served Weds.-Sun. from 5-9 p.m. Reservations for the patio can be made via Open Table by selecting outdoor dining.
North Italia is a modern Italian eatery best known for its artisanal, hand-crafted Italian cuisine. Committed to providing only the freshest ingredients, the chefs take pride in bringing a wholesome, nutritious meal to families and their loved ones in San Diego and beyond, including fresh, handmade pastas and pizzas. With two locations in San Diego, North Italia offers great al fresco dining perfect for a safe and socially distanced lunch, dinner or weekend brunch. Hours vary by location.
North Italia at Fashion Valley
7055 Friars Rd.
San Diego, CA 92108
North Italia at One Paseo
3715 Caminito Ct. Suite 680
San Diego, CA 92130
Little Italy's Open-Air Dining Experience — Al Fresco!
Head out to Little Italy on Saturdays from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. to dine al fresco. India Street will be closed and transformed to allow dining rooms to expand into the street. The focus will be on good food, good health and a soft welcome back! There are many restaurants to choose from and the list is expanding so check the website here. Two of our family faves are Mimmo’s and Filippi’s Pizza Grotto. Face masks and social distancing are observed.
Al Fresco Website: littleitalysd.com/ciao-bella/al-fresco
1743 India St.
San Diego, CA 92101
Filippi’s Pizza Grotto
1714 India St.
San Diego, CA 92101
Street-side Dining in Encinitas
According to a report in the Encinitas Advocate, space available for outdoor restaurant seating will be expanded thanks to city street closures. One traffic lane in each direction between D and E streets will be closed in the city's new Downtown Shared Streets Program. This program will remain in effect until physical social distancing is no longer required. This will help small restaurants with their re-openings, giving them the space needed to safely serve customers.
Serẽa at Hotel del Coronado
Serẽa is a sea to table concept that boasts an expansive two-tiered patio complete with incomparable views. Clique Hospitality proactively set up all necessary protocols according to California state requirements to ensure the highest possible levels of service. The restaurant’s expansive outdoor patio will operate at a reduced capacity, with tables set up according to social distancing standards and social distancing markers clearly displayed. Updated protocols also include disposable and digital menus with a QR code to be viewed on diners’ mobile devices. Mon. & Tues.: Closed; Wed., Thurs. & Sun.: 5–9 p.m.
Fri.–Sat.: 5–10 p.m.
1500 Orange Ave.
Coronado, CA 92118
Homestead Solana Beach
The neighborhood cafe and market is bringing back its popular live music events on Sundays from noon-2 p.m. Homestead Solana Beach recently reopened with limited hours, new market offerings and a socially distanced “piazza” which is where the live entertainment featuring local musicians will take place. Their revamped concept features market staples, scratch made sandwiches and salads and a curated selection of beers and wine. Homestead is currently open Weds.-Sun. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. An open space perfect for families, they have a menu just for kids that includes Nut Butter + Berry Sandwich, Homestead 'Jelly Fish' GF Waffle, fresh berries, powdered sugar, maple syrup, Grilled Cheese on sourdough, served with chips and a Quesadilla served with veggie chips.
346 S Cedros Ave., Ste B
Solana Beach, CA 92075
Puesto Mexican Artisan Kitchen & Bar, Downtown San Diego
Known for their Mexico City-style tacos, mariscos and shared plates Puesto’s location at the Headquarters at Seaport Village allows for plenty of space for dining-in with kiddos. The family-owned restaurant with brightly-hued decor has everything to keep both parents (the best margaritas in town) and kiddos happy, including their kids menu featuring chicken, carnitas and veggies tacos, or quesadillas all made on mini flour tortillas or their course-made blue corn tortillas. Aqua fresca’s in flavors like pina-melon and mango-limon and their ice cream tacos for dessert will have the littlest taco aficionados raving.
789 W. Harbor Dr.
San Diego, CA 92101
Rusticucina in Hillcrest
Farm-to-neighborhood eatery located on Park Boulevard, Rusticucina, has a great al fresco patio where diners can sit down and enjoy Executive chef Marco Provino's Sicilian crafted cuisine featuring pizzas, flatbreads and in-house pasta. Great for families, there is a kids menu that includes Cheese Ravioli, Spaghetti & Meatballs, Crispy Chicken Tenders and Cheese Pizza. Guests can also bring their dogs on the outdoor patio to enjoy a special pet menu. Rusticucina is open noon-10:00 p.m. Mon.-Fri. and 9 a.m-10 p.m. Saturday and Sundays with brunch on the weekends.
3797 Park Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92130
Park 101 Carlsbad
A community hot spot! Whether you want to order up at the fast casual food line or grab and go at the market, add in a drink from the bar and it’s time to eat. The large downstairs open area space dubbed the garden pub has a kids play area and dogs are welcome too. If you bring the whole crew we recommend ordering the Family BBQ with St. Louis slab, whole chicken, Mac n’ cheese, potato salad and Brussel sprouts ($50 serves 3-5 people). Come earlier on the weekends as you may need to line up and wait to get in.
Hours: Weds., Thurs. & Sun., 8 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fri. & Sat., 8 a.m.-11 p.m.
3040 Carlsbad Blvd.
Carlsbad, CA 92008
One Paseo Urban Village
With a mind on safety protocols this village is open for fun! Everyone has choices of what to do and eat at the One Paseo urban village in Carmel Valley. From Shake Shack and Tender Greens to Susie Cakes and Salt & Straw you'll find plenty of food and fancy desserts—makes for a perfect family date spot. Grab food and sit outside with your half-pints in the middle of the village. Save time to check out all the cute shops.
3725 Paseo Pl.
San Diego, CA 92130
Liberty Public Market
This market and surrounding outdoor dining areas are now open from 9 a.m.-8 p.m., daily. Some shops have shorter hours, so check the website. We love spending time in the Point Loma neighborhood and outdoor dining (a 3,000 square foot patio) at Liberty Public Market makes a great pit stop with kids. Whether it's a Maine lobster roll or Mastiff sausage you crave, you can wash it all down with a local craft beer. Kids can dig into an array of cuisines from mac 'n cheese to macaroons. There's a grass area, boat and fountain to keep everyone engaged and having fun.
2820 Historic Decatur Rd.
San Diego, CA 92106
Open for dine-in from Weds.-Sun., noon-8:30 p.m. Gravity Heights has a spacious outdoor area. Good food, good brew, a patio with pretty lights and fireplaces is what to expect at Gravity Heights in Sorrento Valley. Little ones have a special area to play out back. Order-up the dirty fries with brisket and bacon-wrapped dates with a local cold brew and you have yourself a date night with the fam. Note: Masks are required in the restaurant too.
9920 Pacific Heights Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92121
IsaBella Artisan Pizzeria & Craft Beer Garden
The patio is open for dining! Relax by the outdoor fire on the bright red couches while your little ones play around you. Grab a nice glass of wine or beer on tap to celebrate the end of the week. Then, chow down the sausage bomb or pepperoni pizza and finish off with the churros or Butterfinger tiramisu. Enjoy the sparkling lights, good friends and family fun.
4011 Avati Dr.
San Diego, CA 92117
My Yard Live
Outdoor fun! The indoor/outdoor family-style restaurant is part park, part upscale beer garden and it features live entertainment, a treehouse for kiddos to play in, a playground with stump jumpers and a log climb through, lawn games, air hockey, an 80s combo arcade and so much more entertainment for the whole crew. Even Fido is welcome on the scene, which is reminiscent of a fantasy backyard oasis.
288 Rancheros Dr.
San Marcos, CA 92069
Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens
Stone Brewery is open, however, it is at reduced capacity. They recommend making a reservation before you come to dine. This unbeatable backdrop is only bested by the relaxing vibe and delicious food and drinks. Kids can run and play in the expansive garden while you sip craft and specialty beer. If your littles have a sophisticated palate, they'll appreciate the elevated kids menu featuring dishes such as braised pot roast, Jidori chicken breast, pan-seared salmon teriyaki and Bavarian sausage with ricotta mashed potatoes!
1999 Citracado Pkwy.
Escondidio, CA 92029
Eat healthy and happy. For one thing, the kid's meal includes a quesadilla, steak, chicken, or grilled cheese, fruit and mashed potatoes. (That should keep them busy!) Each location has a nice outside patio such as a hydroponic garden or a wood deck. Check out the location near your neighborhood. Enjoy a nice lunch with the crew on the outdoor patio.
Multiple locations: Mission Valley, La Jolla/UTC, Point Loma, Downtown
Sushi on the beach! You'll find 9,400 square feet of fireplaces and lounge seating, plus a perfect ocean view. Order up the lobster rolls and firecracker rolls while having a drink. For little ones, there's a kids meal with choices like grilled cheese and chicken tenders. Enjoy the good food and the beach view.
3105 Oceanfront Walk
Mission Beach, CA 92109
Karina's Mexican Seafood
Dig the festive vibe in the outside courtyard of this Mexican seafood eatery. Likewise, the custom wall murals, pretty flowers and the large tree adorned with lights make for nice patio dining. Fresh lobster, guacamole and all kinds of fish are good to eat. Kiddos can munch on free chips and salsa, while you feel worlds away as you sip your margarita.
Otay Ranch Town Center
2105 Birch Ave.
Chula Vista, CA 91915
We also love patio dining at the restaurants listed below, but some are temporarily closed and we feel at this time the restaurant patios listed above are more conducive to social distancing while dining out with the family.
Take in the breathtaking views while eating at C Level's over-the-water back deck. Dine on lobster or steak on fire salad and add-in Carlsbad mussels for appetizers. Little eaters can go with the mac n' cheese or kid filet mignon depending on their appetite. Everyone wins with the service and scenery. Stroll the gorgeous town of Coronado when you've finished your meal.
880 Harbor Island Dr.
San Diego, CA 92101
Kids get a kick out of watching the pasta making process before dining al fresco on the outdoor patio while taking in the charming character of this new Italian eatery. Good to order are the short rib pappardelle or the spaghettini with large shrimp on top. Half-pints dig the make-it-yourself pizza off one of the best kids menus in San Diego.
Flower Hill Promenade
2730 Via De La Valle
Del Mar, CA 92014
Sit outside eating modern Mexican cuisine with a panoramic view of the San Diego skyline. Whether it's the grilled local fish Vera Cruz or Puerto Nuevos-style lobster you crave, you'll find it here. The little eater menu is simpler with items like corn dogs, chicken tenders, quesadillas and tater tots. Even more, they'll enjoy the big kid sundae for dessert.
880 Harbor Island Dr.
San Diego, CA 92101
Soda & Swine
Whether it's the aloha meatball slider with pineapple or the quinoa meatball that gets you here, grab the crew and come on in. Plus, kids love the Oreo milkshakes. Sit out front at the long tables to watch the street action or head upstairs to the back patio (which is dog-friendly) and have lunch with the crew. Even more, there is pre-meal entertainment for the littles with the foosball table inside.
2943 Adams Ave.
San Diego, CA 92116
BO-beau kitchen & Garden
With a school bus and outdoor chalkboard keeping little ones busy while the rest of the fam relaxes for dinner sitting in this good-sized outdoor patio makes for a perfect evening. Bo-beau uses sustainably sourced ingredients to make their dishes like flatbread pizza and their famous Brussel sprouts. Everyone will enjoy this outdoor evening out.
8384 La Mesa Blvd.
La Mesa, CA 91942
Pacific Coast Grill
Hit the beach! Pacific Coast Grill has an upscale but laid-back vibe. It's a truly perfect outdoor patio for family date night or celebration where you can eat well and have fun. To start, request a ground-level patio table so that littles can play in the sand while you enjoy the sweeping ocean views. Even more, if it's high-end seafood you're craving, then this is your place. From lobster rolls to coconut crab crusted Mahi Mahi the food is fresh and yummy. Plus, there's a nice kids menu to feed their little tummies.
2526 South Coast Hwy. 101
Cardiff, CA 92007
Catch the waves! Eat outdoors with a partial ocean view in this Del Mar restaurant. Lunch on gyros and end with the delish baklava ice cream cake. Also, they accommodate kiddos with faves like chicken and pizza. Depending on the weather, the balcony has both shade and heat lamps. Psst... the stuffed French toast is delish for brunch on the weekends.
1201 Camino Del Mar
Del Mar, CA 92014
Pannikin Coffee & Tea
Start the day at this charming yellow Victorian Coffee spot. It's cute and quirky. Order items like the greek scrambled eggs with feta and tomatoes while half-pints chomp down the bagels toasted to perfection and sip hot cocoa. Moreover, you can sit outside under the umbrellas and watch the bikers cruise by. Or lounge on one of the Adirondack chairs on the grass.
510 N. Coast Hwy 101
Encinitas, CA 92024
Urge Gastropub and Common House
Clocking in at 61,000 square-feet, you'll find plenty of room to move around this brew house. Also, with two outdoor patios, there's time to enjoy the San Diego sun. Moreover, half-pints can run, play checkers, sandbag toss and win at the giant Jenga game. All while you enjoy the bar food, like bleu cheese sliders, grilled salmon and cheesy fries with a pint of local craft brew. Plus, there's a kids menu too.
255 Rebel Rd.
San Marcos, CA 92078
Editor’s Note: At the time of publication, the locations listed above, with the exception of those marked temporarily closed, were open for business. Please check individual websites for the latest information.