This post was originally published in 2017. Please be sure to check websites for the most up-to-date information on these destinations.
Last weekend I posted one of my favorite outdoor dining spots on our Facebook page, and it generated a lot of excitement! So I thought it might be fun to put together a list of several of the best places we’ve found in Connecticut to eat outdoors with kids.
Now, a word of warning that we use the term “dining” pretty loosely here. When it comes to eating out with kids, we think things like picnic tables and paper plates and wide open spaces are the ingredients for a relaxing meal 🙂
You can head to these destinations just for the eating experience, or you can pair them with another local adventure. Either way, nothing says summer like a meal outside, right?! Bon appétit!
Shad Row in Rocky Hill
It’s located in central Connecticut, but you’ll feel like you’re at the shoreline when you dig into a fried clam roll at the beachy Shad Row. The restaurant is situated right near the Rocky Hill-Glastonbury Ferry landing, so the kids can enjoy watching the boat go by while they are waiting on their food. You could even follow up your meal with a ride across the river.
Jessica’s Garden in Marlborough
This was one of our first blog outings, and still remains a favorite spot today! The Lobster Shack at Jessica’s Garden has expanded its menu quite a bit in the years since our first visit, but we still love the original hot buttered lobster roll (which comes with a pretty reasonable price tag as lobster rolls go). After lunch, take a stroll around the pond and explore the Fairy Garden.
Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough in Noank
For many of us, it’s just not summer without the annual pilgrimage to Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough for their signature chowder and lobster roll. You can’t beat the views from the outdoor picnic tables, and the kids will love taking stock of all the boats. Fortunately, there are several family-friendly destinations nearby, like Mystic Aquarium, Mystic Seaport and the Mystic River Park Playground, so you can have plenty of opportunities to get your lobster roll fix.
Dad’s Restaurant in Niantic
Another favorite shoreline destination is Dad’s Restaurant. There’s lots of casual outdoor seating and although it’s not actually on the water, there’s plenty of ocean ambiance. Plus, one of our favorite beaches, Hole in the Wall beach, is just down the street. As is the sea-themed Children’s Museum of Southeastern Connecticut.
Jem’s Garden and Dairy Barn in South Windsor
This hidden “Jem” is just up the road from the busy South Windsor/Manchester shopping areas, but you’d never know it by the serene setting. On weekends you can enjoy one of their unique ice cream creations, but during the week they also serve up delicious lunch specials (as well as kid favorites). No need to rush through your meal here. The kids can hang out and play lawn games while you savor each bite.
Lobster Landing in Clinton
We New Englanders loooooove our lobster rolls, don’t we? Another casual destination for some really delicious seafood is Lobster Landing. It’s not too far from the Clinton Outlets (if you’re out shopping), and it’s also near the beautiful Clinton Town Beach and playground.
Pizza Works in Old Saybrook
The indoor loft may be the most popular seat in the house for the kids due to the two large model train layouts on either end, but the outdoor patio is a lovely place to enjoy a mouth-watering slice of pizza pie (and they can always go look at the trains after their meal). An added bonus to this destination is that it’s adjacent to a real train station, so the kids can have an opportunity to see an actual train glide by on the tracks. Pair your pizza with a visit to Harvey’s Beach for a fun summer day trip.
Rose’s Berry Farm in Glastonbury
Another summer tradition for many is the Sunday morning “Breakfast with a View” at Rose’s Berry Farm. Enjoy pancakes with fresh, seasonal fruit toppings on the deck overlooking the beautiful farm and orchards. After breakfast, you can hop on the wagon and ride out to pick berries. Since this is a popular event, the wait for a table can be long. We recommend getting there early!
Harry’s Place in Colchester
Harry’s Place has been around for nearly a century! So it’s little wonder that so many folks make a visit to this roadside stand serving everything from burgers to seafood a part of their summer tradition. A large, lovely backyard dining area with picnic tables–and plenty of room to run around–make this a perfect outdoor eating destination for families. While you’re in town, check out some of our other favorite kid-friendly places like the RecPlex with its fully fenced-in Spray Park and the Cragin Memorial Library.
Searching for more summer fun? Check out our 2018 Summer Bucket List with more than 50 ideas for summer adventures!
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