Should You Bring Your Kids to the Bar? (2023)

If you’re a parent and the babysitter cancels, you might not think twice about packing the stroller and rolling into the nearest watering hole for your happy hour fix. But should you? Though it’s ultimately up to the parents (and the bar owner), bar patrons and industry pros have strong opinions on the matter. So we asked them, “Do you think people should bring their kids to the bar?” Check out the responses and see if you agree.

“I think kids are like books or work computers in a bar: perfectly acceptable during daylight hours. But once happy hour hits, it's time to tuck in the tots and let the adults have free rein.” - Nicholas Mancall-Bitel, Supercall Editorial Assistant

“When I was a kid growing up in Ireland, it was kinda normal to bring your kids to the bar. Some ‘family’ bars even had playgrounds outside. My brother and I loved going to the pub because we’d get a packet of crisps and a glass bottle of Coke. That said, it really depends on the type of bar—but for most situations, I’d say no.” - Nikki C, Montreal, QC

“It's easy to say ‘no,’ right? We all know that it's usually a total buzz kill to have a kid complaining or running around or just basically denying us—the surrounding adults who are paying $8 a beer—the ‘me time’ we need. But as a woman in her 30s who goes out, is an ex-server, ex-bartender and current GM of a bar, I get it. Sometimes (as in once in a blue moon), you gotta do what you gotta do. But please, cool parents of New York, you have to realize that you are choosing to be that person bringing a kid to a bar.” - Jessie Marlee, Berry Park

“I think it sort of depends on the establishment, but for casual drinking, sure.” - Margaret W, Montreal, QC

“In what circumstance do you need to bring your kid to a bar? If it’s date night, hire a babysitter. If your partner is at work and you have the urge to grab a drink, have one at home. People have this weird thing about drinking by themselves, but it’s way less irresponsible to have a drink by yourself in the comfort and safety of your own home than to bring your child to your local watering hole. Don’t be that guy/girl!” - Matt Seigel

"Hell no. That's why god created babysitters. Just because you decided to become a parent doesn't mean everyone else should have their Friday night ruined as well." - Georgiana C, Brooklyn, NY

“As a customer, I think as long as the sun is still up, children (well-behaved children, at least) are welcome in a bar. That said, it should be a bar with some sort of food. The idea of bringing kids to just a straight up cocktail bar makes me feel uncomfortable—as does bringing kids to a down and dirty dive bar.” - Justine Sterling, Supercall Deputy Editor

“There have definitely been times I brought my son to a bar for a cocktail—especially in the late afternoon, not at night. I would say this: Parents have as much of a right as anyone else who lives in a given neighborhood to enjoy an adult beverage, be among friends and mingle as they did pre-baby. As long as the child is well-behaved and patrons are able to relax and go about their business, it should be acceptable. Many neighborhoods in Brooklyn are experiencing a baby boom. If all those parents stayed home, imagine the impact on those businesses!” - Renata M, Brooklyn, NY

“If you're a good parent and have well-behaved kids, why not? It allows your children to be exposed to adult situations and adults, of various sobriety levels, in a social setting. Someday those kids will be drinking adults and be better for having the exposure at a young age.” - Dillon Mafit, Supercall Staff Writer

“The ‘does the bar have a high chair?’ rule should always apply.” - Max S, Brooklyn, NY

"While small children are not admitted to Sleep No More performances, we regularly welcome families to our weekend rooftop brunches at Gallow Green, currently outfitted as a ski lodge for the winter. We even host a series of kids’ brunches in the spring and summer where they can concoct 'potions' and plant in our gardens —perfect for little ones to enjoy the gorgeous rooftop.” - Lawrence Green, The McKittrick Hotel

"To me, the bar is the adult version of a playground. It's a place where adults can let loose a little and relax from their long work days. A little bit of swearing, venting about work or talking with a friend about the more personal aspects of my relationship shouldn't have to be censored. As long as parents understand that, I am totally fine with it. You wouldn't go to a playground and tell all the kids to shut up and stop running around. The same goes for the 'adult playground.'" - Vanessa G, Columbus, OH

“A traditional bar that only serves drinks? No. Most are adamant about keeping anyone under 21 out anyway, for fear of accidentally serving a minor. A bar/restaurant? Sure! Just be considerate. The bar top is no place for someone younger than 21, even if state laws permits, because that seat may cost the restaurant money. Great restaurants will accommodate you regardless and make your youngin’ feel welcome, but as a guest you should always opt for table service, especially if you're strapped with toddlers and the stroller brigade. Oh, and a word to the wise: Order your kid's food immediately, fold up your stroller and please don't change them at the table because that's just nasty.” - Eric S, Brooklyn, NY

“NO—bars are for adults. Bringing your kids to the bar always ruins the vibe and is generally disrespectful. I went to a bar recently that had a sign saying ‘no kids’—praise!” - Cator S, Charleston, SC

“It definitely depends on the location, time of day, and behavior. If it's a sports bar with food, I feel it's totally acceptable to bring the rascals in with you. I don't mind if kids are around during day drinking either because sometimes that’s the only way my friends with kids will go out. If it's a night club, dive bar, cocktail bar or any place without high chairs and kids menus, get a babysitter.” - Katie J, Columbus, OH

“I think it’s a good idea to bring your teenage kids into a pub-style bar. It’s a great way to show soon-to-be drinkers that drinking in a bar can be a relaxed, fun and responsible experience, and isn’t always about going crazy. As for little kids, if you want to sit at the bar with your young children, be sure to tip your bartenders extra well since they’ll be picking up ketchup-soaked french fries off the floor when you leave. Give your kid a Shirley Temple as a reward for staying behaved.” - Laura Reilly, Supercall Editorial Assistant

"Not sure what the big deal is. I never knew it was an actual issue." - Nicole G, Chicago IL

“Kids can basically get anything they want if they're cute and clever enough. So why are they coming in and inevitably ruining my bar experience when they can have everything else? No! Literally, do anything else. Thank you.” - Justin Harter, Il Buco

“If it is a sit-down restaurant situation where we order a beer, yes. If it is an actual bar where I might have more than two drinks, no. If you’re drinking, it puts your ability to care for the kids in jeopardy. You can't be 50 percent with kids—it's all or nothing. And if I am at a bar, it's because I want to get away from my kids!” - Caitlin H, Dallas, TX

"The reason to meet friends in a pub or bar is to enjoy a great cocktail and engage in adult conversation without mention of mac and cheese, skyrocketing tuition or teen drama. Until the bar offers a 'youth club' where they can be safely diverted, I say no thank you." - Rose G, Akron, OH

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