Our guest today is Audrey Hall who writes about her Bay Area adventures with kids at her blog, The Thrifty Traveler. We love her tips and her photos!
I am not sure if this is something I should be proud of, or concerned by, but my children love tagging along when my husband and I go out for beers. You would think we were offering up a trip to the toy store the way their eyes light up when we suggest hitting any one of our favorite East Bay breweries. Maybe it's the goldfish crackers and live music, the occasional brewery dog, or the game tables and toy baskets that make the experience so enjoyable. It could also be that we let them drink a juice in the box and have fruit snacks (bribery at it's best). Either way, it has given us the opportunity to take advantage of many of the great craft breweries in the East Bay. Here are some of our favorite family-friendly breweries in the East Bay along with some nearby outdoor activities to wear out the little ones.
Kid-Friendly Breweries in Berkeley
The Rare Barrel, Berkeley
If you enjoy sour beers, then you will LOVE this place. While I typically don't gravitate to sour beers, they are definitely growing on me, and there is no better place to test the waters than The Rare Barrel. The venue is aesthetically pleasing and nobody seems to mind our kids running around. They also have a pretty tasty grilled cheese on the menu for just $5 which was a hit with everyone in our group. If sour beers aren't your thing, don't worry! They have six rotating guest taps that feature a variety of breweries and styles. Check the website for hours as they are limited at this time.
As for the adventure, you can plan a whole day in the are using ideas from my Guide to West Berkeley. Aquatic Park, the shops along 4th street or Cesar Chavez Park are all good starting points.
This is one of my favorite new additions to West Berkeley. Fieldwork beers are fantastic and the vibe is very laid back. There are both indoor and outdoor seating options and there are usually a couple of families with kids enjoying a beer. An added bonus is the table of games (Jenga can definitely entertain the kids long enough for me to enjoy a beer). You can follow along on instagram to find out what's new on tap as well as awesome outings like this one that involve a group hike and free beer afterwards!
Since this is just down the street from Rare Barrel, the same outdoor options apply to Fieldwork. Alternatively, you can also head up the hill to Tilden Park where there are plenty of family friendly and affordable entertainment options. Here are my favorite things to do in Tilden.
Jupiter, Downtown Berkley
The outdoor patio at Jupiter makes it the perfect spot to enjoy a beer on a nice day. In addition to their own brews, they have an impressive line-up of guest beers on tap, including a number of excellent east bay breweries. So if you only had time for one stop and wanted to sample a selection of what the East Bay has to offer, this would be a great choice.
The brewery is located in downtown Berkeley, making it an ideal pairing for one of our favorite places to spend time with the kids, the UC Berkeley Campus. Here are some tips on what to do on campus with kids.
Kid-friendly breweries in Oakland
Drake's Dealership, Oakland
If I had to dream up the perfect urban beer garden, then Drake's Dealership would be it. Once an old car dealership, the historic brick building has been beautifully restored to create both a visually enticing and inviting space. In addition to an indoor seating area, which features an amazing custom built fireplace, there is an expansive outdoor beer garden complete with adirondack chairs, fire pits and a stage for live music. I was worried that the fancy setup would mean high prices, but a pint still costs $5-6, and I love that.
Looking to extend your visit in the area? Just take a short stroll down to Lake Merritt. Better yet, start your morning off with a walk around the lake, a visit at the Farmer's Market and a trip to the Oakland Museum of California before capping the day off with a beer. See full details of our recent day trip to Lake Merritt here.
Independent Brewing, Oakland
Tucked away on an unassuming street just a few blocks from Jack London Square is one of our favorite family friendly breweries. Independent seems to be flying a bit under the radar, but don't let that fool you. What it lacks in fancy decor it more than makes up for with a relaxed and inviting vibe and excellent beers. They also have an impressive selection of toys that my kids can't seem to get enough of.
An added bonus is the proximity to Jack London Square, which can easily entertain the whole family for the better part of a day. Check out our day trip to Jack London Square here for more ideas.
Linden Street Brewery, Oakland
Located about a mile northwest of Jack London Square, Linden Street Brewery is situated in a beautiful brick building with a nice covered outdoor patio for drinking. We made a visit this past Father's Day and it was a big hit with the whole family. We were able to enjoy our beers while our kids had a blast going through the two large buckets of toys they had available. Another added bonus is that the brewery backs up to the train tracks, which not only drowns out the noise of your kids, but also makes for some fun train spotting if they get tired of the toy bucket. As with Independent Brewing, I recommend heading down to Jack London Square afterwards to explore the shops and enjoy the views.
Temescal Brewing, Oakland
One of the most recent newcomers to the East Bay brewery scene is Temescal Brewing. We made our first visit this past Father's Day as part of our annual Father's Day Brewery Tour (see last year's tour in Sonoma County here). The brewery has been open a couple of weeks and they are off to a great start! The interior has a nice clean look along with a large outdoor beer garden. The beer garden is both kid and dog friendly and I would say that the majority of people we saw during our visit had either kids or a dog with them. There are fun murals along the walls and plenty of seating, as well as free popcorn!
Kid-friendly breweries in San Leandro
Cleophus Quealy, San Leandro
LOVE this place! The beers are extremely good and there is typically a food truck on rotation to fill your tummy. The indoor seating is inviting, but it's their outdoor patio that really lends itself to relaxing in the sun and enjoying a beer. You can follow Cleophus on instagram to keep up with what's on tap and food truck offerings as well as special events like live music and their Friday taco happy hour (pint and taco for $5!!!).
Drake's Barrel House, San Leandro
You may have noticed that Drake's is listed on here twice. That's no mistake! Not only are they easily one of my favorite breweries in Northern California, but they have two fantastic venues for enjoying their beers. We first visited their San Leandro tasting room in 2009 when we were purchasing kegs for our wedding, and we have been loyal customers ever since. Their San Leandro tasting room has come a LONG way since then and is always an enjoyable stop for the family. We make regular visits to refill the keg for our backyard kegerator and our kids are easily entertained by thegoldfish crackers and live music. If your kids are plane enthusiasts, the proximity to the Oakland Airport makes for some good plane-viewing as they fly overhead en route to the airport.
Both of the San Leandro breweries are located within a stones throw of one another and as such, can either be combined for a mini brewery tour or coupled with a nice outdoor adventure. I would suggest starting the day off with a hike in the nearby Redwood Regional Park, Joaquin Miller Park, Leona Heights Park or Sibley Volcanic Preserve in the Oakland Hills. All four options are exceptionally beautiful places to hike and the perfect escape from civilization before you head down the hill for beer tasting.
Brewery for families in Livermore
Eight Bridges Brewing, Livermore
The brewery is located in an industrial office park, but what it lacks in curb appeal, it more than makes up for in the quality of beer and the family friendly atmosphere. The opening paragraph on the Eight Bridges website encourages people to bring their kids and dogs, and they were very welcoming when we visited with our kids. Upon arriving, we threw out a picnic blanket on the floor next to our table and the kids settled in nicely with some crayons and games from the breweries' game table. It wasn't long before the brewery dog also made himself comfortable on the blanket, which our kids absolutely LOVED. At one point our 2 year old actually followed the dog back behind the bar counter (where the dogs bed was) and the people working at the counter just smiled and chatted with her. We quickly brought her back to our table, but it was so nice to feel like it wasn't a nuisance for our kids to be acting like kids!
Check out my post on our visit to Livermore for some family friendly wineries as well as an enjoyable hike that is easy enough for the kids, but also stroller-friendly if you want to bring along a backup plan.
What did I miss? Any family friendly breweries with excellent beers that I forgot to include?
Also, are you familiar with untapp'd? It's a fantastic app for your phone that allows you to search a specific beer or brewery to see how other beer drinkers have rated it. I find it extremely helpful when visiting a new brewery since you can see the best rated beers and avoid some of the more questionable experimental beers that are sometimes on tap.
Thanks so much for your tour of East Bay breweries, Audrey. We loved it! Keep up with Audrey at her blog.