Gone are the days when a cold beer and a pool table were all that was required for a bar to attract patrons. Today’s bar-goers also want soccer and volleyball courts, nostalgic games, and…toy horses to keep them entertained. Houston has seen an onslaught of watering holes that are more like adult playgrounds, boozerific hangouts complete with—of course—plenty of Instagram-ready backdrops. Clear your Sunday and get ready to party like you’re 12 at one of these spots:
- Why You Should Go: You know those animals on springs you can ride at playgrounds? They’re called spring riders, and Handlebar has four. One of them is a horse. Enjoy.
- What Else You Can Do: Go one-on-one with a friend in a Pop-A-Shot-style basketball game, or challenge a group to a backyard game of Giant Jenga or cornhole. Be sure to pose for Instagram gold beneath the “Beer Me” sign or the enormous framed photo of Burt Reynolds’s Playgirl spread (it’s hard to miss).
- What to Drink: The Charlie Chaplin, a refreshing mix of Pimm's No. 1, grapefruit juice, vodka, and ginger beer; the Frida Kahlo, a vodka mule; or a beer from among the 20 on tap or the solid collection of local cans.
- Why You Should Go: Challenge a buddy to a round of life-sized Connect Four, and you may start singing the game’s ’90s commercial jingle: “Go for it! Connect Four!” (If the pieces, like the ones in the ad, sprout cartoon faces, arms, and legs, put down the beer.
- What Else You Can Do: Bocce! The beer garden has three regulation courts packed with crushed oyster shells. There’s also plenty of cornhole happening. And you can snack on wings, chicken-fried pickled green tomatoes, or one of the 10-inch pies (we like the Major Mushroom).
- What to Drink: Your pick of house-made brews, including the refreshing Lawnmower, the zingy Raspberry AF, and non-alcoholic root beer.
- Why You Should Go: A freaking Ferris wheel. As of this writing it’s a dramatic backdrop that shines neon at night, but this fall it's slated to start offering actual rides for $10, which will include a drink.
- What Else You Can Do: There’s free Skee-Ball, probably the best amusement park game ever created, as well as ping-pong tables and cornhole. As for food, order from one of two trucks on site daily through 11 p.m., or get the one regular menu item on offer: a Philly-style cheesesteak (with Cheez Whiz, even). [Editor’s note: According to a report by Swamplot, Truck Yard is not currently hosting food trucks because of municipal regulations, but it plans to bring them back soon.]
- What to Drink: Tall-boy cans of PBR and Lone Star; 19 taps; and boozy cocktails like the Truck 1/2 Yard, a foot-and-a-half concoction that’s half mai tai and half vodka punch.