Family-Friendly and Al Fresco

Where to enjoy outdoor dining with your kids in the Ann Arbor area in 2019.

Soaking up some sunshine is a top priority for many families this season after a long winter brought us what felt like endless snow days and freezing temps. Dining al fresco could be the perfect way to celebrate summer – and there’s no reason the kids shouldn’t join in.

Outdoor patio season has arrived in Ann Arbor and umbrella-topped tables are popping up on sidewalk cafes all across the city and surrounding communities. Get a taste at one of these local places that let you dine in the fresh air with some especially family-friendly features. Bon appétit!

Argus Farm Shop

325 Liberty St. and 1200 Packard Rd.
734-213-2200 (Liberty), 734-997-5448 (Packard)
Open 7am-7pm weekdays, 7am-6pm Saturday, 8am-6pm Sunday

This year-round farmers market has two locations, each offering a coffee bar with kid-friendly features. At the Liberty store, find a large greenhouse patio with a kids’ corner full of toys, plus a campfire area ideal for older kids and teens. While neither has a full menu, both locations offer coffee drinks and pastries. Big hits among little ones include doughnuts from Crust in Fenton and kid-friendly “steamers” (steamed milk drinks).

Cultivate Coffee & Taphouse

307 N. River St., Ypsilanti
Open 8am-11pm Monday-Thursday, 8am-midnight Friday-Saturday, 9am-10pm Sunday

This “community space” serves a small menu of sandwiches and other light, fresh foods in addition to its selection of craft coffee and draft beer. Cultivate’s outdoor seating space invites families to color together or take part in board game nights or events like origami workshops. Also enjoy Sundays in the Garden, a free live music event Sunday nights from June until September. Kid-friendly treats on the menu include soft pretzels, Zingerman’s ice cream and Chicago-style popcorn.

Fresh Forage

5060 Jackson Rd.
Open 11am-8pm daily

The new outdoor patio at this fast casual farm-to-table spot has plenty of space for kids to explore, and they’re even welcome to run around. Fresh Forage has a kids’ menu including black bean mac and cheese, a vegan soup of the day, sweet potato chips and a wide range of smoothie flavors.

Jolly Pumpkin Cafe & Brewery

311 S. Main St.
Open 11am-midnight Monday-Thursday, 11am-2pm Friday, 10-2am Saturday, 10am-midnight Sunday

The rooftop patio at Jolly Pumpkin offers a great view of the city that kids are sure to appreciate (see if they can spot their favorite places downtown!). The children’s menu here is another local favorite, with generous portion sizes and plenty of options including soups, grilled flatbread, grilled chicken, candied brussels sprouts and more – and don’t forget to leave room for a dessert; try the coconut milk “ice cream” or the pumpkin cake whoopie pie.

Palio del Sole Ann Arbor

347 S. Main St.
Open 5-10pm Monday-Thursday, 5-11pm Friday-Saturday, 4-9pm Sunday

This downtown Ann Arbor favorite offers Italian fare, including a kids’ menu with buttered noodles, spaghetti, fettuccine alfredo and more (plus crayons for coloring). Its popular outdoor spaces include a cafe out front with lounge chairs and a 45-table upstairs patio with lounge areas and a full bar. Both are kid-friendly.

The Sidetrack Bar & Grill

56 E. Cross St., Ypsilanti
Open 11-2am daily

Kids love watching the trains go by at this popular pub, named for its location along the railroad tracks. The outdoor patio is kid-friendly and pet-friendly – a highlight for many families who want to bring Spot along (ask to see the dog menu!). Kid favorites include the macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese and giant ice cream sundae. “It’s truly giant!” says host Mollie Gross. After your meal, take a walk to the nearby Riverside Park to feed the ducks on the Huron River.

Zingerman’s Delicatessen

422 Detroit St.
Open 7am-9pm daily

Where to begin? The famous Zingerman’s deli is a hotspot for families with its kid-friendly outdoor patio and children’s play area featuring an interactive mural, sidewalk chalk and toys. You’ll also find the parent must-haves like high chairs, a family restroom, changing tables and coloring sheets. Kids’ menu choices include kid-sized sandwiches, hot dogs, a hummus plate and more, along with bakery treats like brownies, cookies and cakes that can’t be missed.

The Lunch Room

407 N. 5th Ave.
Open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 3-9 p.m. Sunday

The outdoor patio at this vegan favorite in Kerrytown is located in a courtyard with picnic tables and is both family-friendly and pet-friendly. While no specific kid’s menu is offered, some children enjoy the mac and “cheese” made with squash and red peppers, the beans and rice, the tortilla chips and the beet burger.


693 S. Maple Road
Open 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday

The Maple location of this popular and casual taqueria is very family-friendly, seating about 50 people. On the kid’s menu, try the taco with fries, cheese quesadilla or cheese nachos.

Mac’s Acadian Seafood Shack

104 E Michigan Ave., Saline
Open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday, closed Sunday

Enjoy the fresh air at Mac’s outdoor patio, where kids can enjoy coloring and kid’s menu choices like grilled cheese, fish-n-chips, grilled atlantic salmon, a kids salad with chicken strips and the Mac’s mac and cheese. Kids also get a free drink and sundae with their meal!