I’ve compiled a list of local establishments that know exactly how important play is at mealtime, raising the bar from “kid-friendly” to “kid-forward.” They offer incredible playgrounds, outdoor play areas, lawn games, waterfront fun, live animals, free cookies and ice cream, and even toys to take home. They’re so great, you won’t even need the backup toys in the diaper bag.
Crooked Hammock. Located right off Route 1, this restaurant has a large play set, tons of yard games, outdoor seating, a stage for live music and even old cars for fun photo ops.
Big Oyster Brewery. Situated on Kings Highway, Big Oyster Brewery offers a giant playground in the back and free ice cream for kiddos when they order off the kid’s menu.
Grain on the Rocks. Located at the Lewes Ferry Terminal, Grain serves all selections from the kid’s menu on a complimentary Frisbee that your child can take home. There is a large playground next to the outdoor bar and seating area, a place for live music and a great view of the dock, which doubles as the boarding zone for the ferry and other boat rides, including a Dolphin Cruise hosted by Cape Water Tours and Taxi.
Hopkins Farm Creamery. Located on Route 9 in Lewes (but a little off the beaten path), Hopkins is a great place for ice cream and sweet treats. They have a huge, gated play area with multiple play sets outdoors, as well as a few cows.
Victoria’s Restaurant. Located in the historic Boardwalk Plaza Hotel, Victoria’s has incredible ocean views from inside, as well as boardwalk outdoor seating. They serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, and if you’re feeling fancy, a traditional Victorian afternoon tea (pinkies up). In the cooler months, there are fire pits at the boardwalk tables and on Friday and Saturday, free cookies in the lobby. The lobby is also home to three live birds: a parrot and two parakeets — Emro, Moose and Peanut, who, if you are brave enough, will sit on your shoulder — although you are cautioned to hold them at your own risk, as they like to nibble on shiny jewelry.
Big Chill Beach Club. A fixture at the Indian River Inlet, Big Chill is a beach front oasis with a stellar view. They have fire pits on the beach and children are encouraged to play games in a designated sand area.
Bethany Boathouse. Situated right off Route 1, Bethany Boathouse has a play area that’s actually a wooden pirate boat on a sand pit and live entertainment every night.
LONG NECK/BACK BAY
Paradise Grill. Located off Route 24 inside Pot Nets Bayside, Paradise Grill offers an enormous waterfront playground with a two-story pirate ship in the sand. The restaurant has gorgeous waterfront dining with “toes in the sand” seating and large stages for live music. They also host kids’ events throughout the season.