Fort Worth is chock full of kid-friendly spaces, where Mom and/or Dad can have a drink without feeling like a negligent parent, and fun camps that unglue kiddos from electronic distractions.
Aside from introducing Fort Worthians to Hatch chile festivals and the wonders of poblano-feta dip, Central Market (4651 W Fwy, 817-989-4700) has a large outdoor play area where kiddos can climb, crawl, and slide. Nearby, dozens of shaded tables and chairs offer a chance to relax and enjoy coffee, craft beer, wine, or prepared dishes from Central Market’s kitchen. My 10-year-old son is a regular in the gelato line, located near the entrance to the patio. During the summer, there’s usually a good-size group of kids on the playground in the morning and evening. March through October adds an extra incentive to load up the family for an evening out — live bands on weekdays.
HopFusion Ale Works (200 E Broadway Av, 817-841-1721) proves that “beer” and “family-friendly” can pair nicely. Made-from-scratch lemonade is always on tap along with a non-alcoholic root beer that’s blended with the same locally sourced honey as HopFusion’s popular Feisty Blonde. Piles of board games in the merchandise area and fun theme nights round out the PG-rated entertainment here.
Pee-wee Herman may have influenced the playful design of Panther Island Brewing Company (501 N Main St, 817-882-8121). Circular Hobbit-inspired doors, wooden skylines, and an oversized 1960s-style TV cutout are just a few of the quirky, fantastical features of this spacious brewery. Taproom tours (check the website for schedule) bring in food vendors and offer ample tables for board games.
Sometimes the kids outnumber the adults at Chimera Brewing Company (1001 W Magnolia Av, 817-923-8000), where an oversized Connect Four game outside, darts indoors (if the youngsters are reasonably old enough), and Chimera’s mouthwatering brie-and-speck pizza, made with a buttery blend of mozzarella and brie that’s topped with strips of spiced prosciutto, are all within reach.
The sprawling gravel patio of Woodshed Smokehouse (3201 Riverfront Dr, 817-877-4545), with its giant Jenga games, low rocks for climbing, and fenced-in space, is a great place to unleash the kiddos while enjoying smoky, meaty treats. Newcomer Topgolf (2201 E 4th St, 817-349-4002) can get pricey, but no one in your family will be bored lobbing golf balls into large neon targets from futuristically cantilevered platforms while a waitstaff attentively attends to your dining needs.
Even helicopter parents agree: Summer camps offer a welcome break from the family routine and are a great way to enrich your child’s education and social skills. Many Fort Worthians have fond, sweaty memories of Pantego-based Camp Thurman (817-274-8441), which has welcomed kids grades K-6 since 1969. Outdoor recreations include capture the flag, dodgeball, swimming, rope courses, ziplining, and more.
With an emphasis on science and technology, TCU Summer Camps (817-257-7132) offers half- and full-day classes for kids grades 1-12. Courses cover LEGO-themed robotics, science, technology, photography, SAT and ACT preparation, and creative writing.
You supply the kid, Rogue Brick Builders’ Lounge Robotics and Architecture Summer Camp (817-720-3330) supplies the adventure. LEGO experts are on hand to guide your child from concept to creation, building motorized structures from more than 500 pounds of LEGO bricks and accessories.
Kimbell Summer Camp (817-332-8451) is a series of half-day classes (1-4pm) that introduces children 6-12 to drawing, printmaking, painting, and sculpture. This year’s camp includes tours of the special exhibit From the Lands of Asia: The Sam and Myrna Myers Collection. Getting dirty is par for the course at Camp BRIT (817-332-4441), which focuses on botany and environmentalism. Arts Fifth Avenue (817-923-9500) offers several summer classes and workshops that focus on art, dance, voice, and instrumental music.
Fort Worth has a strong roster of sports camps, including TCU’s Jamie Dixon Basketball Camps (817-257-7968), taught by TCU faculty; Wilson Collegiate Tennis Camp (330-333-2267); Nike Junior Golf Camps (1-800-645-3226); and Game On Arena Sports’ Summer Soccer Camps (817-367-7800).