Fr8yard – Full Review

My 1 year old daughter seems to think the car is some sort of torture chamber.  Since birth she has protested consistently and loudly every time she gets even close to her car seat.  This has obviously made long car trips, (or any car trip really) PAINFUL.  I mean getting to the grocery and back can be therapy inducing.  That being said, when we get the ridiculous notion to take a long car trip with the kids, we must stop often.  We have found that it is good for everyones moral if we take nice long leisurely stops about every 2 hours.  So recently, on a crazy expedition to Savannah, we stumbled across one of the coolest beers with kids places!

I usually try to research some potential stop locals before we begin our travels, but on this particular trip, when the baby was screaming, I just whipped out trusty google and came upon Fr8yard in Spartanburg, SC.  I wasn't sure what exactly to expect as it was described as a beer garden built in old shipping containers.   I was totally impressed.

 

The lower area of Fr8yard has tons of super long picnic style tables, perfect for my little red chair.

There are large umbrellas for plenty of shade and giant fans that I would assume really cool the place down on a hot day.  They weren't on when we were there because it wasn't too warm out.

Downstairs has multiple ping pong tables, corn hole, giant blocks that could be used for Jenga or for a 3 year old boy to build tons of towers.

Also there are multiple huge TV screens for any sporting event viewing.

As far as good goes, the menu was a crowd pleaser for both kids and parents!

The hot dogs and brats that we tried were excellent, as well as the soft pretzel.  The French fries were these cool twisted wedge fries that I have never seen before but LOVED.  There were no complaints from anyone.

The beer options were plentiful, as well as some wine and liquor options.

Upstairs had more seating, an extra bar that wasn't currently open and some more giant jingo sets.

The only real drawback that kept Fr8yard from getting a perfect score was the complete and total lack of changing tables in either bathroom.  I have no problem changing my girl on an outdoor table, but I can't imagine that makes all the patrons thrilled.

Overall the food was great, the beer was great, and there was plenty of room for little people to run and play all their car energy out.  The staff were super kid friendly and there were tons of kids there on our random Thursday afternoon.  I expect that we will keep Fr8yard in mind whenever we travel through South Carolina in the future.

 

Ponysaurus Brewing – Full Review

The Triangle area of North Carolina will always hold a special place in my heart because I lived there for several years and attended nursing school at UNC Chapel Hill.  However, my visits have been few and far between thanks to my gaggle of wild tiny humans.  But finally, thanks to a very good friend’s wedding, we made the trip to the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area.  We landed at a fantastic little brewery in Durham that goes by the odd name of Ponysaurus.  I really wish I had thought to ask what that name means or where it came from, but I was so consumed by great beer and amazing snacks that I forgot….maybe another day.  

To be honest, even having lived in the area previously, I had spent next to no time in Durham.  I think I went to a baseball game or two many years ago, but that was it.  So I was excited to see what Durham had to offer!  This place mostly did not disappoint.

As I said, I don’t know Durham well, but the Ponysaurus location seemed pretty hidden and random to me.  I could be totally wrong, but I would have struggled to stumble across it.  There’s street parking and a sort of driveway leading up to the brewery.

Outside is a huge grass area that is mostly fenced, except the driveway entrance.  There are picnic tables everywhere, a two floor porch and the best part…MISTERS.  Like those fantastic water misters that blow the most perfect cooling mist all over the place so you can tolerate being outside when it’s 8 million degrees in the North Carolina summer. 

The outside area was a phenomenal kid containment zone.  Also, dogs were super welcome outside with water bowls and clean up bags provided.

Inside there was an extensive list of in house made craft brews. 

The Saisons made me exceptionally excited for sure.  For the non beer drinker there were wine options.

As far as food, there was an amazingly cool, unique snack mix menu that could be ordered by the scoop. 

We tried the Wasabi peanuts, the Poppin’ Nut Crunch and the Bartender’s Blend.  Out of the three, the Wasabi nuts were my favorite, I could have eaten a vat of them.  

Although the snack were really good and such a fun idea, there is no kitchen,  No kitchen means no real menu and no real food and let’s be honest, kids are not going to be thrilled about wasabi peanuts for dinner.  This is the biggest draw back about Ponysaurus.  

Overall, Ponysaurus is an absolutely fantastic brewery with great beer and a laid back, welcoming kid friendly atmosphere.  However, don’t come hungry or if you do, bring your own food.

 

 

Round 6 – Full Review

I love a good brewery and Round 6 does not disappoint!!

I have driven past this place a million times and seen the little beer garden lights and always been super curious, so we finally decided to check it out.

Round 6 is slightly hard to find, even though you can see it from Alcoa Highway, you have to turn on like 3 side streets to actually get to the parking.  I advise phones GPS, as always….I actually don’t know how I’d live without it.

We walked into a super empty bar (like 4 people) with zero kids and were at first thinking we would grab a beer and head on, and probably wouldn’t bother adding to the website…boy were we wrong!!  

This was in the corner of the bar

I’m pretty nothing says bring your kid to the bar like a corner dedicated to them!

Also in the bar is the magical popcorn machine!  The popcorn is free, fun for kids to watch and my son may or may not have eaten 7 bowls of it...hey, it was Friday.

Connected to the bar area is a porch that has a railing on all sides but the stairs.  There are tons of picnic tables and this adorable little fake grass area with tiny Adirondack chairs. 

The grass area has only one side unfenced and it’s super easy to keep tiny humans wrangled.  Bonus, the chairs are plastic and really lightweight and fun/easy for kids to move around without anyone getting their toes smashed.  

A food truck (or more like a food cart) showed up around 4/4:30 and had great food that everyone loved.  The bartender said there is always a food truck by 5. 

There is also a charcuterie board available that we meant to try, but honestly drank beer instead and forgot.

We ate on the little porch and then headed down to the big beer garden.

The beer garden area is across the parking lot and down a ramp.  This giant area has a somewhat covered section with tables, an enclosed bacce court, a large fake grass area and a surrounding parking lot.  Also a little stage for bands. 

There was tons of construction going on, so I’m not sure how much things will change.  The owner told me that they are working on building an enclosed dog park area next to the beer garden, which will be fantastic. 

As for dogs, there were tons.  I actually met the biggest St Bernard I have ever seen at 201lbs!!  (I seriously could not stop hugging him)

This picture does not do justice to the massiveness of this creature

At 3:30 on a Friday we were close to the only people there.  But by 6:30, there was a band playing, lots of grown ups (but not too many) and at least 15 kids running around like lunatics.  We were so caught off guard by how fun Round 6 would be, that we had showed up around 3:30 and planned to leave by dinner, and instead ended up inviting friends and staying until almost 9pm!  This may have been the latest my kids have ever stayed up (I’m a little crazy about early bedtimes).  But all the kids were having so much fun, and so were we!  We just couldn’t make ourselves leave.  

Oh, and about the beer…the beer is MAGICAL.  They make everything, have tons of options on draft and everything we tried was so good.  Growlers are supposed to be available soon.

The only draw backs to Round 6 are that you have to walk a ways to get your beers from the main bar as beer is not currently served in the beer garden (I know, walking 50 feet is not that big of a deal).  Also, smoking is allowed in the outside areas and as a parent, this always bothers me.  

 

Hard Knox Pizza Full Review

Where do I even start with this place???  I was introduced to Hard Knox Pizza by a local before I even lived here. Now I return the favor to anyone and everyone who hasn't heard of it.  This is seriously such good pizza!!

 

I know, I know...I'm not doing food reviews here.  So, let's talk about going here with kids.

Hard Knox is in a shopping center that is trying to make itself less strip mall-ish, but is still pretty strip mally.  But that is totally ok with us because that means plenty of easy parking!!

Hard Knox is a smallish restaurant, mostly inside with a few tables out from on the sidewalk.  So, so sad though, I cannot hook the little red chair to these outside tables.  But that's ok because we usually sit inside and they also have tons of high chairs.

As far as kids activities, they provide crayons and super cute coloring sheets....I wish, beyond wish that all restaurants would invest in triangle shaped crayons (that's a post for another day), but that's just me getting flat out picky.

The staff are sweet to kids and the place is generally filled with them and the food is amazing, so everyone is happy.

Several craft beers on tap.  Pitchers available too if you so choose.  Also, Monday night is family night and comes with certain discounts and special additional kid stuff.

But the pizza is the true star of this show.  It's amazing and fresh, and the menu is pretty big.  There's a different special every month and they are generally phenomenal.

Also, shout out to the great salads...

Overall, go here to eat AWESOME pizza and drink good beer in a place where it's totally encouraged to bring your kids.

Side note...great for carryout too!!

Bearden Beer Market Full Review

When we initially moved to Knoxville and had our son, we rented a small house in the Bearden/Sequoya Hills area.  One of the first places we discovered and loved was The Bearden Beer Market. However, I had not been back there in probably three years.  For some reason, I decided today was the day.

Don't be fooled by the name, the Bearden Beer Market is way more than a beer market. It is a large outdoor gathering spot, complete with every type of table, kids riding toys, a full sized basketball goal, covered areas, uncovered, areas, giant Jenga, about a million corn hole sets, and so on.

There is only one entrance, so kids are fairly contained.  But beware that that one entrance leads to one of the busier streets in Knoxville, so I wouldn't get too distracted from the kids.

There are three unisex bathrooms, the middle of which has a changing table.  The bathrooms are located inside a sort of sitting area that has a foosball table, some mismatched couches and a TV.  (From past experience, this area doubles as a fantastic nursing room.)

The beer selection rotates and is usually fantastic.  Today they had a Bearded Iris IPA on tap that I LOVE.

As far as food...they do have food trucks that frequent, and a list of what truck is there on what day at the entrance.

I'm pretty sure just one truck a day and it doesn't show up until the evening during the week.  Luckily its right across the street from Hard Knox Pizza so we generally just go there to eat or pick up food and bring it with us.

I absolutely love this place.  It's great for a sunny day or a cooler evening if the fire pit is lit.  I don't think I'd choose it for a hangout when the weather is too bad though. My biggest complaint is that they allow smoking everywhere, but hey, I'm sure this makes my smoking friends happy!

If you're bored with your kids and want a beer, definitely give Bearden Beer Market a try.

 

Big Ed’s Full Review

To continue our trip in Oak Ridge, we decided to drop by Big Ed's for a proper dinner...PIZZA.

This place is an Oak Ridge staple, it's been around so long that I had heard about it numerous times and have only lived in the area for about 3 years!

When we walked in I noticed pretty quickly that we were outnumbered....BY CHILDREN.  Kid's being welcome is an absolute understatement.  There are more high chairs than can be counted and kids yelling and laughing at almost every table.  The adults who were dining sans tiny humans were mostly making faces and laughing at the kids at other tables!

The menu is super limited, you order pizza.  No kids menu, but who really needs a kids menu for pizza?

The staff are super friendly and accommodating and don't seem at all bothered with the kid chaos.  They do not have any kids activities, not even crayons, but our waitress was so sweet, she gave my son two pens and some note paper out of her own apron.

Regardless, my overly dramatic threenager has gotten so spoiled by our BeersWithKids travels that he expects activities and was not impressed....I of course channeled my mom strength and threatened that if he could't be grateful for what he had that we would not be going to restaurants anymore...my husband gently (while laughing in my face) reminded me that I shouldn't make threats I would not be following through on. WHATEVER.

As far as bathrooms.  The Men's and Women's bathrooms are at the bottom of some sketchy stairs and are dungeon like and slightly terrifying.  Seriously, they are straight out of your worst college dive bar nightmares.  HOWEVER, there is a lovely family restroom before you go down the stairs with changing table.  Choose that bathroom.

Overall, this is a family oriented pizza place that serves beer.  The pizza is good, the staff are friendly.  Go here if everyone is hungry and grown ups need liquid fuel.  Do not go here if your kids are in need of running laps and doing cartwheels.

One additional deep thought....while we were eating, we noticed several Trump hats, a rainbow shirt, people of different races and ages and Queen blasting through the speakers.  Maybe people actually are capable of just getting along??  Always nice to see!

Crafter’s Brew Market & Social Full Review

The clouds parted, the sky turned blue and THE SUN CAME OUT…finally.  This has seriously been the rainiest year ever.  I feel like I moved to Seattle. It was an amazing 75 degrees!!!  SO I dusted off the kids shorts and sandals from last season (which were a lot bit snug) and we headed out on an adventure to Oak Ridge.  

I’ve had several people lately tell me that I needed to check out a specific beer garden in Oak Ridge, but no one could seem to remember the name.  But on a 3 hour Apple store visit…yes THREE HOURS…I think I’m on the payroll now…I was emphatically told by the nicest girl, that I had to go to Crafters Brew Market & Social in Oak RIdge.  So we went.

Upon arrival, this place seemed pretty cool. Tons of state flags, super creepy mannequins everywhere, fire pit, tables everywhere, music playing.

 

But then I quickly noticed the biggest problem with this place...a large, wide open swimming pool with fountains and NO FENCE.

I mean this thing definitely provided some ambiance, but for a mom of little bitty kids, I knew immediately that I would not be able to take my eyes off of my kids for even a second while we were here.  Major bummer on sunny BeersWithKids day. So we found a table as far away from this death trap as possible.

Crafters Brew has tons of awesome beers on tap of all varieties.  I could tell by the giant boxes of out of use taps that they probably rotate their selections frequently.  So this made for happy parents.  Also, the beer line cleaning date was a super happy surprise.  (I once had a friend that worked in beer sales and I learned all about just how DISGUSTING those lines get.)

As far as kids activities, there was a plethora of old board games by the bar for use.  Unfortunately for us, the only game that may 3 year old could really handle was Connect-4 and it was broken.  Other than that, there were dart boards and some bagged up yard games.  All would be great for older kids, but not mine.

There are no high chairs (but you don't need them if you have the litte red chair!) and no changing tables.  But dogs seemed super welcome.

For food, they have an associated restaurant across the parking lot.

The lady who works there is super sweet and calls you "sweetie" in the way that just makes you feel loved and not condescending...

The menu is standard bar food and pizza.  We got a giant pretzel that was a kid pleaser.

 

We stayed for one beer then had to leave because the progeny were getting restless and I absolutely could not let them run around with that death trap of a pool.

All in all I feel like this place is super cool for grown up kids (i.e. parents without their kids) or for school aged kids. There are tons of activities for kids that don't require supervision for survival.  If you're kids younger or prone to making stupid spontaneous decisions about unsupervised bodies of water, then maybe make another choice.

South Coast Pizza Full Review

Even though it is SUPPOSED to be Spring here in the South, it was a pathetic 55 degrees today…sad. So we decided to hit up one of our favorite regular kid friendly pizza joints, South Coast Pizza. (BTW, if y’all haven’t checked out South Knoxville, you’re really missing out.)

South Coast Pizza is in a pretty unassuming building, across from Alliance Brewing Company. Outside there are three picnic style tables for if the weather is nice enough, but we prefer this place when the weather requires indoor accommodations. Inside there are a ton more picnic tables, a couple pull up chairs and two high chairs…ONLY TWO. We always bring our chair that attaches to the actual table for the little one (for those of you who don’t know what this is, I may do an entire post about it because I love it SO MUCH.)

Little Red Chair

This place serves killer pizza and good enough salads and is always a kid food pleaser. As far as entertainment, I’m not sure that this restaurant is meant to be as kid friendly as they are, but they definitely are. There are several old school arcade style video games right by the front door. My 3 year old loves to sit in the car game and pretend he’s driving without it ever even turning on.

There is also a giant fish tank, for child staring and pointing purposes. But most importantly there are VIDEO GAMES!! I’m not talking fancy 3D, million button, mind corrupting systems, I mean old school Nintendo. So simple, so fantastic, so little kid doable.

Again, I feel that all these things may have been intended for adults to relive their childhood, but kids love it. They love it so much that on a random Tuesday night, before 6pm, there were at least 9 children under the age of 5 running around like crazy people while their parents all sat at tables and drank beer. Yes beer, good beer, lots of beer. South Coast offers about 8 draft taps as well as tons of canned craft beers.

Bonus...the people who work here are so sweet, they gave my son a stuffed fish they had on display just because he liked it.

This is totally a place where you can enjoy a good beer, good food, and your kids can be wild.  Just keep it inside.

HG Hangar Full Review

Although this post is very delayed, I have to talk about the place that inspired Beer with Kids, The Hunter-Gatherer Brewery Hangar.

Several weeks ago, we trekked down to Columbia, South Carolina to get a puppy. Why exactly did I feel that having a 3 year old, a 1 year old and a 4 year old Pit Bull was not enough life chaos?? I HAVE NO IDEA. We’re nuts. Regardless, we all packed up and made the trip down for an overnight stay.

After hitting up the adorable children’s museum, we really wanted to go somewhere where we could all eat, the kids would be welcome and Mom and Dad could have a recovery drink. So, we started our usual method of searching through review sites to find places that could be good possibilities. This is always a long tedious process that often requires driving by several places until we find the right fit.

Seriously such a cute children's museum...click on photo for website

We found the HG Hangar and WOW. (Believe it or not, Yelp says this place is not kid friendly…I can’t figure that out.)

 

This Brewery is actually in a giant old refurbished airplane hangar. It seemed to me to be somewhat in the middle of nowhere, but I am not from the area so I could be totally wrong. We actually thought the GPS was taking us to the wrong place, then BAM, there it was.

 

The inside of the hangar is a giant, open brewery. There’s also a bar that serves beer and wine, and booth seating.

The day we were there the hangar doors were open and the wind was a little chilly, I would just recommend bringing a jacket. It seemed like the inside is probably closed off when the weather isn’t nice. It is seat yourself, we had no problem finding high chairs in the back. They only offer pizza, pretzels, salads and some limited apps for food, which you order and pickup from the bar. Let me tell you though, we got a couple different pizzas and the pretzels and they were fantastic! Our kids ate everything and so did we. After eating we decided to walk around outside to the back of the hangar, and that was where the real magic was.

There was a huge field and tons of kids playing soccer, hula hooping, and basically running around like lunatics. The whole area was mostly fenced, and the unfenced parts were super visible. The best part though, there were tons of PARENTS drinking beer, hanging out, and not having to micromanage their children. Kids having a blast, parents letting loose, perfect Beers With Kids experience!!

We left and decided that there needed to be a better way to find places like this, and BeersWithKids was born.

and....

This little fuzzy bear came home with us

Central Filling Station Full Review

I have called many cities home in my years, but Knoxville is the only city that has homed my children (does that make sense?).  What I'm trying to say is that both of my children, and one of my dog children, have only lived in this city!  This GREAT city.  It may be small but it is mighty!  In all my homes and all my travels, I have never met a place quite as kid friendly as Knoxville, Tennessee...well maybe Greece but let's talk the US of A right now.  So it only makes sense that I should start right here in the Scruffy City itself.  Knoxville.

There are many, many locales that we flock to with the kids around here, but when the temperatures are just right (i.e. Spring and Fall) we love Central Filling Station.  Like LOVE.  We have actually been there 3 times this week alone.

No, it is not a gas station, it is actually a food truck park.  Once upon a time, many years ago, possibly before I was alive, this was a gas station.   Now it is family paradise.  Mostly fenced in with two openings for the trucks to get in and out, this place is pretty safe.  It helps that Knoxvillians have a tendency to look out for each others children if one runs for the road (I speak from experience).

It is equipped with a sandbox full of toys, a giant connect four game, that silly impossible ring and hook game, tons of sidewalk chalk and surfaces everywhere to be drawn on.  Many kids also bring their scooters and cruise around in circles.  There are picnic tables everywhere with metal dog leash hooks for those that bring their furrier children.  The park rotates 4 food trucks every day, ranging in choices from burritos to hawaiian veggies and rice.  You can pretty much find something for everybody, and if all else fails, you can always find the kid pleaser FRENCH FRIES.

Always present Little Red Chair

So this place entertains the children and feeds the children and it gets better....there is an old shipping container turned into friendly BAR.   This place serves lots of rotating beer and cider selections all in the canned variety with a complimentary coozie to borrow.  The only real downside here is the weather.  There is a partial roof, but it doesn't cover the food trucks, the sandbox, or most of the kid space.  When it is hot outside (and Knoxville can get HOT) this is not where you want to be.  We have had days when our son has been near heat exhaustion due to his refusal to leave the unprotected sandbox.

All in all, this place provides a pretty perfect Beers with Kids day, as long as the weather cooperates.