Whether your jam is the Super Bowl (or the commercials), college or pro basketball, or award shows on the big screen, there’s nothing like bringing friends and family together to cheer your favorite competitors on. While some families love doing pot lucks or (weather-permitting) barbecues for the occasion, there are situations where a sports bar can be your no-fuss, communal living room. However, where to find one that will allow you to bring the kids or teens?
Here’s a lineup of sports bars around the United States delivering the goods, along with special offerings for the under 21-set, a safe environment and a few extra bells and whistles.
Banners Kitchen & Tap Topgolf Swing Suites are an interactive social experience offering guests a comfy lounge to enjoy Banners’ food and beverage service while playing a selection of games (golf, hockey, football, baseball, zombie dodgeball and carnival games) in a one-of-a-kind simulation — fun for golfers and non-golfers alike. Three bays and reservations are available via the Banners website in one-hour increments for up to eight people. A children’s menu, Topgolf Swing Suites, an epic dessert called The Kitchen Sink, comfy booths both upstairs and downstairs and a 39.5-foot TV dubbed the Dream Screen make Banners ideal for families who like to experience the big game together.
Although the Houndstooth Saloon is located in Chicago’s trendy Wrigleyville, people flock there for its down-home flourishes, including Alabama football, live country music and tasty Southern-inspired cuisine. When owner and family man TJ Callanta took over Houndstooth at the end of 2018, his goal was to create a fun atmosphere for the neighborhood families while still appealing to the young late-night country crowd the bar is known for. TJ not only updated the menu with a special kids’ section and non-alcoholic beverages list with milk and juice mocktails, but also revamped the outdoor patio by adding a stroller dock and family-oriented section on the residential side of the building with a new “family” patio. Houndstooth is family-friendly daily until 10 p.m., and fans under 21 must be accompanied by an adult.
The Wolcott Tap is the quintessential North Side neighborhood pub, with televisions, creative comfort food (including smaller kids’ menu sizes) and large communal spaces. Kids are allowed to join the fun by day when accompanied by an adult.
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
American Social Bar Las Olas takes the standard football barbecue to the next level with a Super Bowl Block Party to celebrate Super Bowl LIV. During the rest of the year, family fans can enjoy their favorite games in a patriotic setting indoors, or on the patio, with a side of all-American favorite foods. The Plunge Beach Resort, a contemporary destination designed for “chic bohemians, families, and beach lovers alike,” hosts a weekly Beach BBQ Bash every Saturday afternoon at its Backflip Beach Bar, the town’s only toes-in-the-sand sports bar, which specializes in grilled and barbequed fare. In addition to watching games on its televisions, patrons can participate in classic beach games in the sand, like cornhole and sand volleyball.
The Groovy Goat’s Alabama outpost offers a television at every booth and big-screen televisions showcasing all the teams at once, as well as more than 40 top arcade games and regional Southern-American fare specific to this location, from chicken wings soaked in house-made sauce to customized tableside nachos. For after-the-game fun, Groovy Goat guests can pop over to OWA, the area’s newest entertainment destination, featuring more than 21 amusement park rides for kids and adults of all ages. Anybody visiting Orlando, meanwhile, can check out the Groovy Goat there to experience the bar’s G.O.A.T. (greatest of all time) features, Florida-style.
Chicken N Pickle is a restaurant, sports haven, entertainment complex appealing to sports fans and foodies of all ages. While it is a local favorite for the Super Bowl and other championship viewing parties, the sports bar-come-complex is packed with many fun activities for the whole family to enjoy beyond the action projected on its many television screens. There’s an ice rink open throughout February with ice skating, curling and hockey, that in the warmer months is a courtyard with yard games and concerts. There are also several old-school games (10 pickleball courts, plus cornhole, darts, Jenga, ping-pong and shuffleboard) that never lose their appeal.
PLANNING A VACATION TO FRENCH POLYNESIA, the Cook Islands or Fiji? Lucky you! While you really can’t go wrong with any of these exotic locales that beckon with white-sand beaches, mornings spent listening to soothing water lapping your bungalow, and immersion excursions with some of the world’s most amazing flora and fauna, not all islands are created equally.
During the pandemic we had weddings postponed and trips canceled. I anxiously awaited my daughter’s test results, who made it safely home from Barcelona and into quarantine. Many of us can fill in the blanks with similar stories about how we’ve had to adjust, accept and change plans.
With technology advancing faster than ever, children globally are becoming attached to devices. Adults too. Our Netflix queue and ever-expanding inbox call our names even when we’re on vacation. We carry distractions with us everywhere, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to truly connect with your loved ones.
Looking for stops to add to your next adventure? Consider taking the family to an aquarium, where you can get close and interact with multiple different species of sea creatures and even participate in once-in-a-lifetime experiences.