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We Kid You Not: Nine Family-Friendly Craft Beverage Spots in Orange County

man and child looking at stage

The Hudson Valley is beloved for its agricultural history and has long been celebrated for its many farm-to-glass wineries, breweries, cideries, and distilleries. At just an hour north of NYC, Orange County has a plethora of craft producers and has become a weekend playground for visitors and locals alike who are eager to soak in the culture, history, and tasty food and libations on offer.

This scene is not just for the grown ups! Many of these family-owned gems are rolling out the red carpet for the under-21 crowd too, offering a a multitude of activities—from games, to kids’ menus to live music.

Read on for nine tasting rooms where you can enjoy a glass of wine, beer, cider, or spirits (or a non-alcoholic beverage) without any whining from the peanut gallery.

If you want to fill your cup in more ways than one, sign up for a Trail Pass. Orange County Tourism has partnered with 24 distilleries, wineries, breweries and cideries to create the Trail Pass, which not only makes it easier to find your way from Point A to Point B, but will allow you to earn points for prizes like Yeti tumblers and backpack coolers every time you visit a tasting room using the Pass. (Signing up is easy, just start here and follow the step-by-step instructions).

Kid-Friendly Breweries

Brewery culture was arguably perfected in Germany, where the experience was just as much about community and family as it was about grabbing a stein. Several Orange County breweries offer their own variation of that experience.

At Rushing Duck, anyone under 21 is welcome as long as they “don’t try to buy or consume our beer.” Fair enough. The tasting room in Chester has become a community hub not just for the broad selection of housemade beers, but also for its just-off-the-highway, central location.

Try some of the 20 beers on tap (including selections from other local farm breweries and cideries) and snag great food from the food trucks that line up there every Friday through Sunday to enjoy outdoors under a picnic table umbrella.

A family-friendly vibe is on tap at Aspire Brewing in Middletown, with a capacious 30,000 square-foot beer hall, fun games (axe throwing, sports simulator for hockey/golf/baseball) and a sprawling menu with beer-friendly shareables like nachos or Bavarian pretzels, and killer burgers and pizzas. There’s even a kid’s menu.

At Clemson Bros. Brewery this historic microbrewery set in a historic building in Middletown serves up addictive snacks the family will love—short rib tacos, fried pierogies, chips and black dirt onion dip—plus a kids’ menu with basics like chicken tenders and mac and cheese that parents know will please even the most resistant of palates.

Kid-Friendly Cideries

If you have children who are 10 and under, have too much energy to stay seated, and/or just love nature, cideries may be your best bet.

At Pennings Farm Cidery in Warwick, the options are endless—and fun for all. The cidery crafts orchard-to-glass sips from their farm and welcomes younger family members in the taproom or on the lawn, which is arrayed with Adirondack chairs and picnic tables.

The Amish-built bar surrounded by acres of fruit trees makes for a delightful sunset backdrop, and the cidery’s Old-World style brick oven pizza and rotating roster of up-and-coming live musical acts has a following of its own. Families can also head to Pennings Farm Market directly in front of the taproom for their fill from the café, pub, beer garden, and ice cream stand in summer.

The sprawling Pennings Farm Cidery welcomes kids of all ages. Photo: Orange CountyTourism

At New Hampton’s Orchard Hill Cider Mill, the focus is on authentic, locally-sourced cider, warm hospitality and great local fare. The brand-new brunch menu is drawing a crowd, so consider reserving ahead to guarantee your share of Crabcakes Benedict, Orchard Breakfast, and Maple Bacon French Toast. During non-brunch hours, there are family-pleasing wings (flavors include Sweet Cider Honey, Creamy Garlic Parm and Devil’s Blood), pizzas, and fries (get the Cheesy Bacon ones).

Angry Orchard in Walden pulls out all the stops with ticketed events for the whole family, including Treehouse Experiences (ages 16+, offering panoramic views of the orchard and the Shawangunk Mountain Range, with tastings for anyone 21+) and Orchard Walk Tours (walk through the orchard to learn the history of cider-growing and making in the region).

You can also visit without reservations and sample ciders or hang out in the orchard. If you’re hungry, there are snacks and shareables that will please all ages, from cheese and charcuterie platters, to pulled pork sandwiches and (of course) apple dumplings topped with homemade ice cider caramel and whipped cream.

playing giant jenga at Angry Orchard
Playing Giant Jenga at Angry Orchard. Photo: Angry Orchard

Kid-Friendly Wineries

At first glance, wineries may feel like one of the last bastions of adult-only life, but these spots prove that fermented grape juice can pair beautifully with family life.

At City Winery Hudson Valley, everything is all-ages and fair game—the management just asks those under-21 to avoid picking a perch at the bar. In addition to offering tastings and a full menu, there are ticketed live music, theater, and comedy events that rotate on a regular basis. Check out the roster of summer festivals which are both kid- and pet-friendly.

Popular family-friendly events include City Winery’s lively brunch and live music series. Get all of the latest events details here.

At Christopher Jacobs Winery at Pennings Vineyards in Pine Bush, families flock to the expansive outdoor space to watch sunsets, listen to live music, drink housemade wine and graze from the visiting food trucks. Christopher Jacobs opens for the season beginning in May each year.

Kid-Friendly Distilleries

Many distilleries in Orange County are sprawling agricultural operations, and as such, offer plenty of options for kids.

Orange County Distillery at Brown Barn Farms is located on a fifth-generation family farm and has a warm, inviting vibe. In addition to regular events and live music with snacks from the Melt Food Truck every weekend, there are the heartfelt grains-to-glass spirits to try, and the 7,000 square-foot barn, where all of the production magic happens, to check out.

Warwick Valley Winery, Distillery & Orchard offers something for everyone: spirits, wine, cider, and sangria to drink, plus orchard strolling and seasonal apple picking. There are frequent live music events and festivals, a tasting room, café with scratch-made cooking and pizzas and a delightful country store to explore.

Apple Dave’s Distillery in Warwick offers a cozy and scenic environment to sip wines, ciders, beers, their homemade Apple Jack and signature cocktails. There is live music on the weekends and kid-friendly snacks like hot dogs, donuts, and popcorn. Carve out a space on the lawn and spread out with the whole family (including pets!).

In Orange County, adulting is easy. Sign up for a Trail Pass, and make it even easier.

Header photo: Courtesy of City Winery Hudson Valley