Tips for Family Patio Dining During Covid 19

While my at-home bartender might serve some excellent and SUBSTANTIAL pours, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been counting down the minutes until I could safely enjoy a cocktail on a restaurant patio. Thankfully our town made the decision to create Arlington Alfresco to not only help restaurants that were majorly impacted by Covid 19 but to also help the overall morale and mood of families like mine who missed enjoying new and favorite restaurants. After visiting a few times as a family, we have learned so many things about having an enjoyable and SAFE meal so please read these Tips for Family Patio Dining During Covid 19 and then visit your favorite local restaurant—I’m sure they have missed you just as much as you have missed them.

Family Patio Dining During Covid 19 - Patio

Make Reservations

While some restaurants are on a “first come, first served” basis, most take reservations and appreciate when you do so that they can manage crowd size for the health and safety of everyone. Making a reservation is especially helpful when family patio dining during Covid 19 so that you can plan around your kids’ schedules to hopefully enjoy a meal without meltdowns or overtired kiddos.

Eat at an “Off” Time

We still practice social distancing and each of us has many different masks to wear when out and about, so we prefer to eat alfresco at “off peak” times. For us that means the earlier the better (right when restaurants open for lunch and dinner).

Family Patio Dining During Covid 19 - Masks

Bring a Mask

Even if you are able to social distance, bring a mask for walking into/through the patio area, as well as when you go inside to use the restroom. While some people may wear their masks while sitting at their table, most restaurants do not require it. Pst—our favorites masks are from Charisma!

Use Hand Sanitizer

Upon walking into the restaurant, take a squirt of the provided hand sanitizer or bring your own. No matter which option you choose—you want to have clean hands when walking into the eating environment.

Family Patio Dining During Covid 19 - Family Friendly Spots

Respect the 90 Minute Time Limit

Restaurants and their staff won’t be able to make money if they aren’t turning tables so please respect the 90 minute time limit. Take a look at the menu online before hand so that you already know what you want to order even before you arrive so your focus can be on sitting back and relaxing.

Prepare for All Types of Weather

During our lunch yesterday, we melted in the sun for 15 minutes and were then PUMMELED with rain for the next 15 minutes (yes, there was an umbrella on our table but the elements can still get to you). So be prepared by packing sunscreen/hats, a sweater or coat, umbrella, and a flexible attitude.

Family Patio Dining During Covid 19 - Arlington Alfresco

Pack a Bag

In addition to preparing for any type of weather, you will also want to prepare for family patio dining during Covid 19 by bringing things that amuse your kids that will stay on the clean table (for example, triangular crayons instead of traditional round ones that will roll onto the floor) and you can either use once and then toss/recycle or easily disinfect. I also recommend bringing a plastic bottle of water in your bag to refill your children’s drinks if they slurp down their water quickly while on a hot and steamy patio.

Order Everything At Once

Think going out to eat in a mask is uncomfortable? It’s nothing compared to the restaurant staff that are hustling and adapting to a new environment in a mask—in Chicago humidity. So cut down on their trips back and forth and ask for everything at once. For example, ask for a round of cocktails and extra waters at the same time you order your appetizer, and then order your entrees and any extra sides at the same time. Efficiency is best for everyone when patio dining as a family during Covid 19.

Family Patio Dining During Covid 19 - Social Distancing

Tip B I G

If you are lucky enough to have funds to go out and treat your family at a restaurant during this global pandemic, you most likely also have extra funds to tip a bit better than ususal. Bounce that 20% up to 25%. Your sweaty, masked server who was unemployed for months will undoubtedly appreciate it.


All parts of life are different thanks to this global pandemic. RELAX and go with the flow. And go ahead and put your food and drinks on Instagram. Give these hardworking businesses some social media love.

Family Patio Dining During Covid 19

For my restaurant recommendations, click here.

Bon Appetite!


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    • Amanda says

      Thankfully many restaurants provide it–I especially love when they ask you to use it before entering and after exiting their space.

  1. Nicole says

    These are such great tips! I might do patio dining for the first time since this whole covid thing started this weekend. So thanks for the tips!

  2. Greg Nagle says

    Went to Arlington alfresco June 12, 90% of the people walking around did not have masks on, even the cops!

    • Amanda says

      Were they still able to social distance? I believe the rule is that you don’t have to wear masks if you are able to maintain a 6 foot distance from others.

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