Baby-friendly bars for the social parent’s soul

Five years ago, if you told me that I would willingly bring my baby to a bar, I would not have believed you. But the microbrewery, beer garden and urban market boom has dramatically changed Charlotte’s bar culture, shifting it, in many instances, towards more family-friendly environments. Nowadays, it’s common to see parents (myself included) with a pint in one hand and — gasp! (sorry, mom) — an infant in the other.

Avoid shelling out big bucks for a babysitter and hop over to one of these four spots to enjoy a drink with your little one in tow… without getting judgmental stares.

Legion Brewing

Nestled in the heart of Plaza Midwood, Legion boasts a gorgeous wooden interior that lends it a rustic, homey vibe. A giant chalkboard wall invites patrons of all ages to doodle, and the booths located on either side of the bar comfortably accommodate a baby seat. The best part? Legion offers a diverse selection of seriously tasty beer. I tried the Black Oat — a delightfully robust stout. But if dark beer isn’t your jam, there are plenty of other options.

BONUS: The concrete floor and entry ramp allow for easy stroller access.

Legion 1

Rhino Market

Delicious salads and sandwiches, funky retro furniture, hip music, ample parking, excellent service and extensive drink choices — what’s not to love about Rhino Market? It feels like a newer, cleaner, more spacious version of Common Market. With 10 beers on tap and hundreds of other bottled choices (wine, beer, soda, juice), there’s something for everyone here.

BONUS: The big single-user bathroom makes diaper-changing less awkward.

Rhino Market 1

Free Range Brewing

Arguably Charlotte’s most explicitly kid-friendly brewery, Free Range’s website states, “As beer lovers and parents of young children, we know it’s not easy to find a place to go and enjoy some peaceful adult time. To help, we created a small kids’ area with a variety of materials that promote quiet, creative and contemplative play.” Brilliant. While my son is currently too young to enjoy the kiddie area’s books and toys, you’d better believe that I enthusiastically applaud their efforts to establish an environment inclusive of all ages. And their beer is on point. Cream of the Crop is one of the best cream ales in town.

free range

BONUS: Nursing moms concerned about imbibing can enjoy a non-alcoholic soda made in-house with locally sourced ingredients.

The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery

Feeling self-conscious about bringing your kiddo to a bar? This is the best place to get your feet wet. Pop over here on a Saturday afternoon and you’ll see more adults with kids than without. Ok, I’m exaggerating, but trust me — you won’t be alone if your little one tags along. The expansive outdoor area is great for children, and their affordable beers are perfect for communal gatherings. As Charlotte’s first local brewery, OMB consistently provides quality beer in a welcoming atmosphere.

BONUS: They open every morning at 11 a.m. — a plus for parents more comfortable taking their children out during the day.


Honorable mentions:

Photos: Sara Kay Mooney