I love the idea of incorporating play spaces in unconventional ways and it can’t get much better than pairing a beer garden with a play space. The Junction Beer Garden & Bottle Shop located in Mill Valley executes this pairing perfectly with a huge outdoor eating area and a large wooden ship play structure for kids to play in. The Junction Beer Garden has 30 rotating taps and other alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and— in collaboration with PizzaHacker— also serves fantastic pizzas and salads.
It’s an added bonus that The Junction Beer Garden is only a ten-minute drive from the Bay Area Discovery Museum (BADM). We had a perfect day of fun with a combo of a few hours at the BADM before visiting the Junction Beer Garden for pizzas and drinks in the afternoon.
I loved the spacious outdoor area and that they had a plethora of picnic tables. Most of the tables aren’t shaded, but there are a few tables that get shade from a large tree near the back. We haven’t visited the Junction Beer Garden in the evenings, but there seemed to be plenty of space heaters near the tables for use during chilly days or evenings.
The highlight of the outdoor space for us was the large wooden ship play structure located in the back. My daughter had a blast sliding down the slide, going inside the ship pretending she was guarding treasure and steering the ship to safety.
We were lucky enough to have the play structure to ourselves and I was surprised that my daughter was entertained for over an hour on the play structure alone. We did go during a weekday though — I was told that weekends get busy and that the least crowded times on the weekends are from 2 pm – 4 pm. The play structure might not be able to accommodate a swarm of kids, but it’s spacious enough for at least 5 or so kids to play on it with no problem. Although there are no posted age restrictions, I think the play structure is best suited for children around the ages of 3-8.
As for food, PizzaHacker serves their pizzas on-site and they are delicious. We ordered the MARINara pizza and the kid’s cheese pizza. We put in our food and drink order through the QR code located on our table. Heads up that the kid’s pizza is the same price as the other pizzas and it’s huge.
Pro tip: I had no idea about this when I visited, but Early Bird Tacos serves breakfast tacos and coffee and shares the same outdoor space in the mornings before The Junction Beer Garden opens. This would be a great time to check out the outdoor space and boat play structure during early morning hours to avoid crowds.
Early Bird Tacos is open Weekdays 7:30 am-11 am and Weekends 7:30 am-11:30 am.
Plan your visit to The Junction Beer Garden
- Hours. [Monday-Thursday] 11:30 am-9 pm; [Friday] 11:30 am-10 pm; [Saturday] 11 am-10 pm; [Sunday] 11 am-8 pm.
- Location. 226 Shoreline Highway, Mill Valley
- Live Music. There are free live music events three times a week. People ages twelve and older must be vaccinated to enter the beer garden upper yard during live music events and show their vaccination cards. Masks are required for children ages twelve and under in the beer garden upper yard during live music events.
- Food. Mostly pizzas and salads from PizzaHacker that you order through the QR code at each table. They don’t accept cash so come prepared with a credit card.
- Dogs friendly? Yes, but dogs need to be on a leash.
We’ll be back to the Junction Beer Garden for its spacious outdoor dining, delicious pizzas, and fun play structure. Pairing this outing with a few hours at the BADM turned out to be a perfect day. Perhaps next time we’ll try to make one of the live music events and I definitely plan to check out Early Birds Tacos one of these mornings.