Let’s not mince words: Going out with toddlers kind of sucks. However, it’s certainly possible—necessary, even—to get out of the house and grab a drink during those unpredictable, post-nap, pre-bedtime hours. The real key to an enjoyable time for all is choosing the right spot.
Before parenthood, a great two-for-one drink deal was enough to secure our happy hour devotion. But with the little ones in tow, we need a spot with quick turnaround on tasty food and cocktails, a spacious locale, and a friendly, unflappable waitstaff. These five spots hit all of those benchmarks. So go ahead—take the kids out and live a little.
Atomic Cowboy: The massive booths at the Highland branch of this popular Denver bar make it easy to corral the kids while you sip a cocktail. On a recent visit, our party of 10 was able to comfortably fit into one of them—score! Combine that with slices of Fat Sully’s New York-style pizza, and how can you go wrong? Multiple locations
Happy Hour: Daily 3–6 p.m.
Drink: A strawberry-rhubarb Moscow mule, or a $2 PBR
LowDown Brewery & Kitchen: LowDown’s enormous community table is the perfect spot to gather with friends and their kids (read: plenty of space to stash the diaper bags and fruit pouches). Great brews (try the Selfish Pale Ale or the LowDown IPA) coupled with the kid-friendly eats such as edamame hummus and an accommodating waitstaff make LowDown a go-to. If it’s nice, head outside to the patio where the little ones can zigzag around. 800 Lincoln St., 720-524-8065
Happy Hour: Monday–Friday 3–6 p.m.
Drink: Beer is king here. Ask about rotating taps—they’re always interesting.
Lowry Beer Garden: It may be popular, but Lowry Beer Garden (“LBG” for those in the know) still bears mentioning. No matter how crowded the place gets, there always seems to be room for more. Squeeze the baby car seat under one of the long tables, release the kids to the makeshift playground in the side yard, and head up to the counter where there’s more than a dozen rotating beers on tap. Nosh on eats like seared tuna or kale and quinoa salad, and appease the kiddos with soft pretzels and sweet potato fries. Bonus: There’s soft serve ice cream. 7577 E. Academy Blvd., 303-366-0114
Happy Hour: Monday–Friday, 3–6 p.m., Saturday–Sunday, 11 a.m.–2 p.m.
Drink: Dry Dock Brewing Company Apricot Blonde on tap
Vine Street Pub: Hosts at this laid-back City Park joint grab kid menus and crayons like it’s second nature, and the carpeting and sturdy wooden tables and chairs give the space a home-y charm. Grab a game of Connect Four from the cabinet and settle in for some all-ages fun. No need to relocate when hunger strikes—eats like Basil Blue cheeseburgers (for the grown-ups) and cheese quesadillas (for the little ones) will make everyone happy. 1700 Vine St., 303-388-2337
Happy Hour: Daily 2–6 p.m.
Drink: Colorado Kind Ale
Music Train: There are few spots in Denver where you’ll find enjoyable kid-friendly live music and booze in one place. This weekly event features crowd-pleasing, danceable tunes from different genres—jazz, funk, and bluegrass, to name a few—accompanied by food and beverage offerings. While the concerts are held at the Oriental Theater during the winter months, summer shows take place on the patio of Highland Cork and Coffee (on Tuesdays) and outside of Little Man Ice Cream (on Wednesdays). Kids can play along to the tunes with the array of provided instruments while you relax. Bonus: Summer concerts are free, with a five to 10 dollar suggested donation per family.
Happy Hour: Times vary; check here for details
Drink: A glass of red wine