Happy Hours may be the last thing you think of when considering where to take your family out to eat. If you haven't been before you might easily think one, or all of these things:
But you'd be wrong! Sure, Happy Hours may not be the first thing to come to mind when thinking about a family meal, but we want to prove to you that family friendly restaurants come in all shapes and sizes. It may be hard to believe, but Happy Hours can be extremely family friendly, and by doing a bit of research, a bit of prep, and going on the right days and times, your family can eat out at exciting and delicious restaurants, and pubs while saving money!
Keep reading for 10 reasons you should start taking a "Happy Hour" with your family!
1) Happy Hours are at the PERFECT time of day for kids
Most Happy Hours start at 2 or 3 in the afternoon, and go until 5 or 6 in the evening. For parents with young kids, this is pretty ideal. First, this means that the restaurant is usually fairly empty, leaving you tons of breathing room to spread out, and enjoy yourselves. There are so many empty tables, that you can usually have a section all to yourself; no need to worry about what other patrons are doing, and they don't need to worry about what you are doing. Second, you can take your kids for an early dinner, have a great time together, and be home in time for bed time routines. For parents with older kids, you can stop in to refuel after a long day at school before heading out to all your activities. But it isn't just on weekdays. Most places are now offering Happy Hours on weekends too! It is practically perfect!
*Tip: be sure to check our Happy Hour Guides for a complete directory of the days and times that deals are available.
4) Most places now serve Happy Hour anywhere in the restaurant
That’s right! It isn’t just in the bar or lounge anymore, and it isn’t just for single people looking to socialize. Happy Hours are intended to bring in traffic during traditionally slower times of day, to help cover the restaurant or pubs' overhead expenses. But lets not kid ourselves, some happy hours are more kid friendly then others, and some are strictly adults only, so always be sure to do a bit of research before you show up with the kids.
Bonus: If you're local, then we've done the work for you! Check out our Guide to Happy Hours, along with the Happy Parents family friendly checklist for each restaurant! Just choose a restaurant or pub you are interested in to see if it suits the needs of your family
5) You don’t have to drink!
But hey, you can if you want to! ;) Nowadays, some restaurants are even including non-alcoholic offerings on their Happy Hour menus. Businesses can require that you purchase a drink in order to get Happy Hour prices on food, but they can't require you to drink alcohol. So order what you like, coffee, tea, pop, a smoothie...etc. and they will be happy to serve you. Trust us, restaurants and pubs want our business, especially in the slow times, even if we aren't there to drink up a storm. They get us in the door, and hopefully earn a returning customer, in exchange we get a great time out. It's a win-win!
Local Suggestion: Firecrust Pizzeria is a great place to take your kids for an after school treat. Their Happy Hour menu is all about the sweets and includes $4 dessert calzones and milkshakes, oh yah…and $4 beer just in case!
6) Happy Hours are often served family style
The majority of Happy Hour foods are appetizers, small plates, or pizzas. In our opinion, it is a prime opportunity to reinforce teachings about manners and sharing food. It is so fun seeing your kids behave like little adults around the table, using their please and thank-you's, and considering who has had what before gobbling up the rest of a dish. It is so civilized!
Local Suggestion: For our families, Happy Hour at The Italian Osteria is a total crowd pleaser. We like to order a variety of the gourmet pizzas (they are just $11 at Happy Hour) to share amongst the group. They are a generous size, and so far they have all been delicious. A family of four can easily walk away full with just 2-3 pizzas on their bill. *Have a gluten sensitivity? No problem, they offer gluten-free crust for a small charge.
7) Some Happy Hours have healthy options
If you want to eat out, but are health conscious, don't be so quick to count out Happy Hours. Yes, most menus still have a range of delicious fried foods, but you may be surprised to know that many restaurants are now offering at least one lighter option. While there is definitely room for improvement in this area, the more of us who get out there and ask for it, the more likely things are to change. Look for menus with items such as salads, veggies and dips, steamed edamame, or grilled skewers.
Local Suggestions: The Trading Post Eatery is a great place, and shows that you can find healthy offerings, as well as great deals during Happy Hour. Dine on their Vegan Power Bowl for $8 and then head out for a walk along the Fraser River on the Fort to Fort trail. Me N’ Ed’s Happy Hour has Veggies and Hummus for just $5, and Sammy J's Grill and Bar has a delicious Baked Cauliflower.
8) Most restaurants will accommodate special requests during Happy Hour
Nowadays a lot of us have special dietary requirements, and it seems to be a common fear that Happy Hour menus are set in stone and cannot be altered to suit our needs. We have not found that to be true. In fact we have found most restaurants to be extremely accommodating. If someone in your family has a gluten intolerance then you can try asking for a lettuce wrap instead of a bun, or many places nowadays have gluten free buns or bread. Get out there and see for yourself!
Local Suggestions: Milestones is willing to do their sliders with gluten-free buns. They will also sub the bread on the Goat cheese platter for the gluten free bun, allowing you to have something that will please everyone.
9) You can expose your kids to vegan or vegetarian options
Eating more meat free meals is a growing trend, especially recently with the Beyond Meat Burger taking over the world. We think this is awesome, and hope to see more and more vegan options on Happy Hour menus in the near future. For now, we notice a lot of menus offer edamame beans which are a great source of lean protein, but we've also seen vegan poutine, falafels, veggie burgers, vegan bowls, hummus, and buffalo cauliflower "wings".
Local Suggestions: Cactus club offers a huge Happy Hour menu which includes some vegetarian and vegan options. We like the Edamame for $4, the Garden Burger with fries for $13, and the Crispy Tofu Bowl for $17. Earls is another good Happy Hour to check out with $4 Mini Margarita Pizzas, and delicious Buffalo Cauliflower. Wings and S+L also offer Buffalo Cauliflower. We like this trend!
10) You get to take your family out to eat for a fraction of the usual cost!
Why would you pay full price for food and drinks that you could get for a fraction of the price at a different time? Happy Hours make it possible to treat your family to a fun, delicious meal without breaking the bank. Here are a couple examples to prove our point. During Happy Hour, the Match Eatery and Public House offer $4 appetizers, and Dublin Crossing has $6 appetizers (not sure about taking your kids to a pub? Click their links to find out what makes these places surprisingly great options for your family).
If you compare Happy Hour menus to regular menus, you will see that you can eat and drink at a great discount. There are tons of great deals out there, just waiting for you and your family to enjoy. Perhaps it even means that instead of blowing the budget on one dinner out, that you can now treat your family to two or three Happy Hours, or you could put your savings aside for something else that will help bring your family closer together. The choice is all yours!
We hope we've convinced you that Happy Hours are an easy, fun way to save money while connecting with your family over local eats and drinks.
What do you think about our list? What is your experience with kids at Happy Hours? Please feel free to leave us a comment. We'd love to hear your thoughts!
Want to have more fun eating out with your baby or kids? Click here now for 4 game changing tips!
Happy Parents BC is on a mission to make eating out fun, accessible and affordable for young families. We believe that "family friendly fun" should be exciting and engaging for the entire family, and we are constantly looking for cool things to eat, drink, and do with our kids. Join us on Instagram & Facebook, and let's all "drink in the moments" of family life in the Fraser Valley.