Thank you October for finally bringing fall into focus! It's time to enjoy the outdoors without breaking a sweat. For our family, crisp fall weather + lazy Sunday afternoons usually = a trip to one of downtown Durham's family-friendly beer gardens. Yep, you heard me. Family-friendly.
We like Sundays because even though these hidden gems are open all weekend long, Sundays are a little more relaxed in terms of the size of the crowd, which for our active 5-year-old, makes a big difference.
First let's talk about Fullsteam.
You've heard of the farm-to-table movement, now think plow-to-pint. That means this brewery uses local NC ingredients (including some funky ones like sweet potatoes, corn grits and summer basil) to turn out some delightfully delicious Southern craft beers. Even if you're not a beer connoisseur (and I'm definitely not), there are plenty of reasons to visit and kick back with a cold one. The tavern itself is cavernous in size with plenty of room for little people to get their groove on - a mini-game room in the front with ping-pong and pinball, picnic table seating as far as the eye can see in the tavern's main room, a stage for live music, and plenty of places to soak in some sun with friends on the front patio. Fullsteam doesn't do food, but they have partnered with music venue Motorco (right across the street) to bring in fantastic local food trucks. My daughter is a really picky eater, so before we go I usually check who's going to be rolling up here.
Our second fave is right around the corner - Geer St. Garden.
This venue is more restaurant-y in its mindset courtesy of its delicious gastropub menu (Farmhand Foods bratwurst, local pasture-raised burgers, fried chicken plate and grilled pimento cheese sandwiches), but the patio in back is a casual diner's delight. The patio is not only kid-friendly but pet-friendly too. I was thrilled to see that the walkway where our daughter spends most of her time hopping around (when she's not petting people's dogs) has become a venue for cornhole - even more reason to linger over one of Geer Street's many tasty beverages!
Last, but definitely not least is a venue that calls to us regularly from Carrboro, and that's Milltown.
We visited our favorite Orange County gastropub last Friday night to sample this month's Octoberfest-inspired specials and boy did they deliver! The rouladen with red cabbage and a Guglhupf brezel was ridiculous, although there were plenty of other tasty choices like bratwurst and schnitzel. Milltown also keeps our finicky five-year-old happy thanks to the lightly breaded chicken fingers on their kids' menu - between that and the Belgian frites she cleans her plate! Their Sunday brunch delivers the best of both worlds by throwing things like eggs benedict, omelets, and bacon, egg and cheese melts on sourdough into the mix. Did I mention they have an absolutely biblical selection of beer ? Seriously, it's a book. That alone might be enough to beckon you, but like I said, I'm not a beer connoisseur. All I need to see is an infant carseat parked on top of a picnic table seating smiling parents and I know I'm in the right place.As always - drink responsibly.