My partner and I firmly believe that kids learn by doing, so we have always taken our children with us whenever we eat out; even when they were tiny babies. Eating out with young children can be a challenge but it’s definitely worth it in the end. We are so lucky to live in south Devon as there seems to be a vast number of child friendly places to go out for a meal.
One place that we visit regularly with the kiddies is The Swan Inn in Noss Mayo. They have a landing pier at the bottom of their beer garden alongside the river, so when we take our boat over to the River Yealm we can motor right up to the front door in our dingy! It’s really lovely sitting outside watching the world go by and as a bonus, when the tide goes out, the kids can play on the beach. The grown-ups can then enjoy a drink in peace, which as anyone with kids will know, is a rare occurrence.
Inside the pub they have an area filled with colouring pads and crayons that you can take to your table which helps to keep the little ones occupied while you wait for your food. They also have a shelving unit with board games for slightly older children.
Another great place that caters well for families is The Pen Inn in Newton Abbot. They have a completely separate family area that leads out onto the garden where you’ll find a massive play frame. Within the family area they also have a few coin operated rides. We’ve always had a good meal here and the staff are very friendly. The Pen Inn is great for large family get-togethers as they have space in the conservatory to re-arrange the tables to suit your needs. I personally like going here because of the separate area. It helps me to feel more relaxed while we eat to know that everyone in the room is also there with children. The atmosphere makes diners slightly more tolerant of the occasional, unpredictable, outburst that seems to come as part of the package when eating out with young children.
One last place to eat out with kids is The Boathouse in Dawlish. Not only is the food very good, they also have a free indoor soft play area for the little ones, which is perfect for the wet days. A little tip if you are planning to go: ring before-hand and book a table upstairs as this is where the soft play area is located which means you will be able to keep an eye on your children but still remain at your table. When you have finished your meal, why not take a stroll along the seafront and maybe even have a go on some of the rides at the mini theme park or try your luck at the amusement arcade.