Hi fellow family adventurers! Who likes to go out to eat?!! (Raises hand high!) Who likes to go out to eat with kids? (Raises hand a little lower but still raises hand.) OK, so in all honesty, its really hard to go out to restaurants with children. If one of those children is about 2 and half and younger, it can be a nightmare, right? But for some reason, the thought of not having to cook another meal that half of the children will turn their noses up to and tell me loudly, “Eww that’s disgusting!” is enough to make us brave a restaurant every once in a while. All the kids can pick whatever suits their fancy (even though its usually just Mac and Cheese that they choose!), and we can try not to disturb the neighboring diners throughout the meal. We have gotten pretty good/great at choosing what restaurants are kid friendly, and which ones we just don’t even bother with. I have come up with a list of the top family friendly restaurants in and around Harford County for you to enjoy.
What constitutes a family friendly restaurant in our eyes? Well, something to keep the kids attention is a huge must. A playground, kid friendly ambiance, crayons, rolls to keep them happy till the meal arrives, SOMEthing, a bit different.
Here are some of the best picks in and around Harford County, MD for truly family friendly and fun destinations. Disclaimer, we have NOT tried all of these restaurants, but they are all on our list of Must Try’s for the fall. I’ll be back with a complete review after each one. None of these restaurants have given me anything in return for the publicity so these are truly non biased opinions. I simply wish to share some fun places to try out with your families. Have you been to any of these with kids? What was your experience like?
1.Family Friendly Restaurant
Steelefish Grille – Bel Air, MD
First, Steelefish has a seriously awesome new playground that was just added in August 2016. There is outdoor seating, so you can sit on the patio and watch your little darlings play while sipping a tasty beverage of your choice. And after the kids eat two bites of their $5 kids meal, they can run back off to the playground so you can eat your dinner!! What could be more fantastic!? We love the creative menu at Steelefish, their Crab Blend soup Is to die for! In all honesty it’s a bit pricey for us to take 7 out here, but for special occasions it’s great. And now that they have the playground, we will have to think of a special occasion! Check it out!
2. Family Friendly Restaurant
Broom’s Bloom Dairy – Bel Air, MD
Brooms Bloom is one of our favorite places, and its right down the street! Amazing homemade ice cream crafted into very creative flavors (ever had blueberry muffin or graham cracker cake batter ice cream before?) It’s a cute little farm house themed restaurant where you can eat inside or outside at picnic tables if it’s a nice day. You order at the counter, so no waiting for a waitress either. They also have lunch type fare in addition to dessert treats. Again, their half and half crab soup is da bomb!! While pregnant with Bubba, I ordered this by the gallon for carry out, no joke! The kids can run around after they are all sugared up. Its a real working farm, so if you time it right, you can take amazing family pictures by the sunflower fields. They often have live music playing and around Christmas time, there is a fun train garden. We hosted a family gathering there after one of the Harry Children’s baptisms & the staff was very accommodating. Locally produced lamb, beef, free-range eggs, and seasonal vegetables are also available, along with pre-packaged ice cream. A quick warning, the “very small” isn’t so small and they are closed on Mondays. What is your favorite flavor ice cream?
3.Family Friendly Restaurant
Lee’s Landing Dock Bar – Port Deposit, MD
Located just over the Conowingo Dam in Port Deposit, is Lee’s Landing Dock Bar. We went on a Saturday night in late August around 8:00 PM with a party of 11 (7 kids!!). I was surprised that we were seated right away. That place was hopping! Loud, but great music playing outside. There was dancing, and happy people everywhere. It really was very crowded, but all in a fun atmosphere. The best part about Lee’s Landing is the pirate ship playground for the kids to play on. Once we ordered our meals, we headed outside and let the kids run off steam until the meals were back on the the table.
The kids menu was fairly typical (why can’t restaurants have anything different for kids meals!? Chicken tenders, grilled cheese and burgers everywhere!). The adult menu was a bit more creative and we thoroughly enjoyed our meals. What makes Lee’s Landing so unique is their boardwalk. They have windows on a cute boardwalk where you can purchase Maryland staple foods such as snowballs, Saltwater Taffy, Fischer’s Popcorn and French Fries. You can be seated inside or outside, and they even have tables in the playground area!! The views of the sunset over the Susquehanna were breathtaking. I highly suggest you Harry Up and GO to Lee’s Landing to give it a try for yourselves. Bring the kids, OR go for an adults only evening. You will not be disappointed!
4. Family Friendly Restaurant
Sunset Cove – Bowley’s Quarters, MD
Sunset Cove is a restaurant on the water in Bowley’s Quarters. It’s the only place around that I know of where you can eat outside with your toes in the sand. We brought some buckets and shovels and the kids had a blast playing in the sand. If you go during the day (and I recommend you do, I hear it can get a bit rowdy and crowded at night) the kids can actually go swimming off the pier!! We enjoyed our meal and trip to sunset cove. It’s definitely a destination out of the ordinary…which is exactly what you need sometimes.
5. Family Friendly Restaurant
Gunpowder Lodge – Kingsville, MD
Gunpowder Lodge is on the Gunpowder river in between Harford and Baltimore counties in neighboring Kingsville. The food is great and they have a large backyard area with a playground, some picnic tables and horseshoe pits. I don’t believe that you can be served out back, but it’s great for letting the kids run around before or after the meal. The restaurant has a ski lodge feel with some awesome benches made out of skis. The menu is impressive for a neighborhood restaurant and the portions are large. We have always enjoyed our meals at Gunpowder Lodge. Its fun to finish your cocktail in the backyard area while the kids play on the nice play area.
6. Family Friendly Restaurant
Hightopps Backstage Grille – Timonium, MD
It’s been a long time since I’ve been to Hightopps…possibly when Mermaid was a baby, but I know quite a few friends who have enjoyed a family meal at high tops. They have an outdoor deck and bar area with a playground. So if it’s a nice day, that would be a great place to check out. It looks like an awesome place to spend a day, with couches and comfy places to sit and chat both indoors and out.
7. Family Friendly Restaurant
Friendly Farms – Upperco, MD
Friendly Farms is a hike from Harford county, but well worth the trip for a nice family meal. They can accommodate large groups so you can (and should) bring grandma & grandpa along with aunts and uncles and cousins for an unforgettable family outing. Located in northern Baltimore County amongst rolling farm hills, Friendly Farms is a country family style restaurant. Which means, everyone orders and pays for their main meal (I recommend the crab cakes or fried chicken, or fried oysters, or roast beef…OK everything there is good!) at the front counter, then you sit down and they start bringing the shared side dishes to your table. The price of meals includes all you can eat side dishes. These are classic family style dishes like cottage cheese and apple butter, corn and lima beans, green beans, and ROLLS, oh the ROLLS! I could go to Friendly farms just for the rolls – they are a beignet style sugary roll, more like a donut but SHOOT THEY ARE AMAZING! Just be careful that the kids don’t fill up on the rolls before they eat the healthy stuff. All the side dishes are bottomless so order a few extra so you can take some of those rolls home! Kids can order a “sharing plate” for a small fee if they are too young for their own meal. Older kids have their own menu as well. Drinks and ice cream for dessert is all included in the meal total.
After you are finished filling your bellies (And you WILL be full!) everyone joins outside by the lake to feed the geese or take a family stroll. Friendly Farms is one of our favorite family destinations. I have the best memories going here with my grandparents & enjoy making those memories for my kids as well with their grandparents. The older generations LOVE this place. We even had Mom-Mom Harry’s 90th birthday party there! I hope you give it a try, you won’t be sorry!
8. Family Friendly Restaurant
Ocean City Brewing Company – Abingdon, MD
OK so here is one we have not tried yet, but it does have a playground outside, so it’s definitely worth mentioning. It’s on our list of new places to try. Have you been? What did you think?
9. Family Friendly Restaurant
OK, so I know everyone knows about Chick-fil-A…but I had to mention it here because 1.They have an indoor playground for littles, 2. The Chick-fil-A restaurants in Harford County are always having fun family events, and 3. They have free food giveaways often (Check the Facebook pages often!). One of our favorite days is Cow Appreciation Day, where if you dress like a cow, you get FREE food! Its not often that our family of 7 can eat for under $10! They also have Orioles days all summer long with free food giveaways if you wear Orioles gear. Did you know that you can trade the kids toy from the kid’s meal in for a free ice cream cone? That’s one of our favorite little tips for Chick-fil-A! You can visit the Aberdeen, Abingdon, and Forest Hill Chick-fil-A restaurants, but don’t forget, they are closed on Sundays!
Here are a few restaurants that didn’t make my list because they don’t have a snazzy playground, but they *are* family friendly, in my opinion. If you are still stumped and are looking for a restaurant to Harry Up and GO, you could try these out as well.
Panera – Panera has good kids meals a bit out of the norm of chicken tenders and french fries. Its quick and seat yourself which is a plus with kids.
Friendly’s – Friendly’s food isn’t the best in my opinion, but we do love their ice cream.
Texas Roadhouse – Texas Roadhouse gives away a lot of free kids meals to our school’s PTA and is involved with the community. We like their free peanuts. The kids think its hilarious that they can just throw the peanut shells on the floor.
Noodles & Co. – Another one of our favorites…order at the counter and just sit down for your fill of pasta. The kids meals are pretty good. All my kids like noodles – they have a “buttered noodles” meal for my pickiest little Harrys.
We hope that this post has inspired you to get out there and try a few of these fun places to eat! Hitting a restaurant with children isn’t always relaxing, but it sure can be fun! And kids will never learn how to act in a restaurant if you never give them the opportunity. So we say Harry Up and GO check out some of these great establishments! Please report back and let us know what you thought. Help me add to this list as well! I’ll be updating it with other great suggestions from our readers!
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