The words “happy hour” and “kids” generally don’t go together but there are many restaurants that extend their happy hour or “early bird” prices to the dining room and patio area. Families that eat out early can take advantage of these specials and while there is always a kids’ menu available, the happy hour food choices can be a better and healthier deal.
Blue Lantern Plaza
34085 Pacific Coast Highway
Happy Hour: Daily, 3 to 6 p.m.
The Point is the only restaurant on the list that has a dedicated area for kids. The Kids Cave is a small alcove in the dining room with a table, crayons, wall-sized chalkboard and a continuously running G-rated movie. Parents can sit at their table and relax while the kids play or watch TV. The Point has casual sandwiches, pizza, burgers, pastas and salads and a kids’ menu with hand battered corn dogs – a must for any corn dog lover. The chocolate chip calzone for dessert is huge and delicious.
1740 South Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Happy Hour: Daily, 4 to 6 p.m.
Children are immediately drawn to the live birds at the entrance of the restaurant and while you can’t feed them, kids try endlessly to get them to talk without much success. Head upstairs to the airy bar and lounge area where happy hour is in full swing. The menu has individual items and $10 dinners that are a great value for the price and quality of the food especially for families that are past the kids’ menu stage. Try Sundays when there is live Reggae music beginning at 5 p.m.
Yard House Irvine
71 Fortune Drive
Irvine, CA 92618
Happy Hour: Monday through Friday, 3 to 6 p.m.
Yard House seems like the most unlikely restaurant on our list for kids, but happy hour here is booming. It’s young, loud and very busy. On the family flipside, it has one of the best kids’ menus around and the best kids’ activity book to keep them occupied at the table. There are more than 15 appetizers and pizzas on the happy hour menu plus specials on beer and drinks. The service is prompt and attentive.
Wind & Sea
Dana Point Harbor
34699 Harbor Drive
Dana Point, CA 92629
Happy Hour: Monday through Friday, 4 to 7 p.m.
Happy hour is available inside in the lounge and outside on the large patio that overlooks the Dana Point Harbor. With kids in tow, head for the patio and watch the boats come in and out, birds diving for dinner and a friendly seal lion that pops up every so often. If you’re very lucky, you might see a big sea lion climb up onto the dock. The calamari steak is hands-down the best item on the happy hour menu along with the famous mai-tai which is $4.95 and tastes like a strong slice of Hawaii.
Savannah Chop House
32441 Golden Lantern
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677
Happy Hour: Nightly from 4:30 to 7 p.m.
Savannah Chophouse has two early dining specials; happy hour that is available in the lounge with $5 appetizers and $10 early bird dinners in the dining area, which is a better fit for families. Menu choices are a mix of lamb, beef and seafood plus a few appetizers. The atmosphere is cozy with a fireplace and white tablecloths and might be more comfortable for older children. Live music plays in the lounge area.
Kristi Marcelle is a travel writer and regular contributor at Ciao Bambino and CBS Los Angeles. She loves planning travel adventures with her family, a good glass of wine at the whining hour and the Green Bay Packers. Follow her on Twitter @kristimarcelle.