I am a parent and, given the age I am, many of my friends are, as well. Having kids definitely changes how your social life works; unless you have family nearby that can babysit for free, the cost of you having a night out goes up exponentially in the form of a babysitter.
So, many families adjust how they manage their social lives, hosting dinners with the kids at home, or going to parties at friends-with-kids places. Another alternative is to meet with friends at a restaurant. Or perhaps it is the end of the week, and you simply don’t want to cook.
Here is a list of some of my favourite kid-friendly patios in the city. They all have certain traits in common: first of all, and most importantly, they have the appropriate liquor licence. Secondly, they have to serve kid-friendly food, or have a kids’ menu. Thirdly, they need to have high chairs, and possibly some on-board entertainment like colouring, or a kid’s play area.
With 65 rotating taps to keep mom and dad happy, plus an extensive pub menu that includes kid faves like pizza, poutine, and meatloaf, St. Augustine’s, tucked in just behind the Commercial Drive Skytrain station, is a great place to stop on your way home from a day at gramma’s, or from shopping. The patio is also quite large, and covered.
Address: 2360 Commercial Drive, Vancouver
Located in the heart of Gastown, The Old Spaghetti Factory’s patio is large and offers some great people-watching opportunities. It’s very family-oriented, from the space, which features the ability to seat large parties, to the kid’s menu (which features colouring, games and puzzles), to their “it’s all included” menu. Economy is the name of the game, here. For under $7 on the kids menu, you can choose from pizza, chicken nuggets, or pasta faves like spaghetti and meatballs. The meal comes with juice or milk, bread, salad and ice cream for dessert.
For adults? Lots of pasta choices, salads, chicken, ribs and steak, the average price of which is under $15. All meals, again, come with tea or coffee, bread, salad and ice cream. It’s cheap and cheerful. The liquor menu is pretty extensive, with choices like bellinis, beer and Jackson-Triggs wine. My 10-yr-old’s review: “It’s a fancy place and a kid’s place together.”
Address: 53 Water Street, Vancouver
For you: really good pizza and local brews like R & B, Stanley Park or Granville Island, or Okanagan-based wines. The food here is bright, fresh and mostly organic, perfect for lunch after visiting the Farmer’s Market. For the kids, the ability to choose their own pizza toppings, mac ‘n’ cheese, pasta or chicken noodle soup. They even have a kid’s brunch menu. The service is really friendly and they are great with kids.
My son says: “I love their pizza! Plus they have this kid’s play area with an oven and fake fruits and vegetables.”
Address: 1876 W 1st Ave & 4186 Main Street, Vancouver
When the sun shines, there’s a line for the Olympic Village patio, so thank goodness they opened up another restaurant just a year ago in Coal Harbour. Both patios are huge, with tons of seating, and they are very kid-friendly, with a kid’s menu, colouring sheets, and nice servers. As for the views–well, you can’t get much better. For you, over 120 beers and wines on tap. The gastropub menu features everything from charcuterie, to burgers, to fish ‘n’ chips, to mac ‘n’ cheese, to salads, to pizzas, to pastas, to steak! Your whole family will love the deep-fried pickles, and one of my (and my son’s) fave desserts is the Ice Cream Sandwich.
Address: 1 Athlete’s Way & 1055 Canada Place, Vancouver
For my money, this is the best kid-friendly patio in the city. At almost 300 seats, there’s lots of space, and the patio creates a U-shape around a city-run waterpark. So while you and your partner and your adult friends sip local beers on tap, you can watch your kids running through the sprinklers. The menu features pizzas, burgers nachos, and salads, all of which lean towards fresh seafood. This patio, by the way, is also inclusive of your four-legged family members.
Address: 1199 West Cordova Street (at Bute), Vancouver
What are your favourite kid-friendly patios?