Patio seating at Legal Harborside runs along Boston’s HarborWalk and affords a clear view of the city skyline and the oldest working fish pier in the country.

All this sunshine has us seriously gearing up for some al fresco dining. The patio (or roofdeck, beer garden, etc.) says laid back in a way that a tight, stuffy, indoor space never can. It says steamed mussels, lobster rolls, and Harpoon Summer. It says sandals, sunglasses, and maxi dresses. And yes, it sometimes even says to bring the kids.

Not every patio is created equal, though, especially when you’re dining with tiny, unpredictable patrons. So we took inspiration from Boston Magazine’s recent list of the city’s best outdoor eating options and made our own family-friendly version:

Sweet Cheeks

Located in the heart of Fenway, Sweet Cheeks offers a nice little beer garden and a sidewalk patio. There is no kids menu per se, but the kitchen is happy to whip up a grilled cheese or some chicken fingers. All that, and it’s allergy-friendly, too.

Stephanie’s on Newbury

Newbury Street might not be your first guess for family dining, but this Boston classic welcomes kids without batting an eye. The patio is big, and the people- and dog-watching are fun for all.

Barcelona Wine Bar

Washington Square in Brookline now offers several solid al fresco options, and our favorite is Barcelona. Though there is no formal kids menu here, don’t be shy to ask for pasta or chicken with French fries — the kitchen will kindly oblige.

Union Street

This Newton gem offers a nice little patio (go early so you can snag a coveted table), a great kids menu, and diverse and tasty dishes for us adults.

Legal Harborside

This sidewalk patio in the Seaport District is always a good time, with a fun and friendly atmosphere. If the kids are restless during the meal, a quick diversion to check out the nearby boats should do the trick.

Barking Crab

Just down the street from Legal Harborside, the venerable Barking Crab offers a good kids menu and an unbeatable view of boats and skyscrapers. Since the Crab offers open-air dining under a tent, this is a good option for the summer day with a chance of rain.


This South End pizza joint boasts a great patio, and once there, you’ll find yourself in the company of many other families happily dining in the fresh air. And not only is the pizza delicious, the ice cream also keeps us coming back.

The Liberty Hotel

Known as a late-night hot spot, the before-dark Liberty Hotel is also great for families. The patio is huge, making it easier for your little one to get his wiggles out. And on Wednesday nights, the patio hosts “yappy hour,” a treat for both dogs and dog-loving kiddos.

Where do you plan to bring the family for al fresco dining this summer?

A Maine native, Jessie migrated down the coast to Boston after college, and it’s been home ever since. She has lived in various corners of the city — from Allston and Brighton to Newbury Street and then Jamaica Plain — before settling in Brookline with her husband and three daughters. As much as she loves home now, she also likes to leave occasionally: recent family travels include Italy, Belize, and Washington D.C. Jessie writes with a cat curled up nearby and a dog at her feet. And a cup of coffee. Always.