Pretend tea parties are a feast for young imaginations, but nothing treats a little princess or prince like a real afternoon tea experience fit for royalty. Lucky for families: You don’t need to fly across the pond to feel like you’re sipping English Breakfast in a palace.
A handful of places across The States rise to the occasion for children. Picture fine China tea sets, tiny sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, and whimsical accoutrements accompanied by white-glove service. (Be sure to prep your kids ahead of the affair. Tell them what they can expect, have fun learning about the history and culture of afternoon tea, and offer reminders such as to be careful with the fragile tableware and practicing proper manners.)
MAKE MEMORIES: 23 Best Family Vacation Spots in the U.S. for All Ages
Dress up with your kiddos, and bring the magic of pretend tea parties to life at one of these 13 best afternoon tea destinations in the U.S. for ages 12 and under.
1. The Grand Salon at Baccarat Hotel – New York City
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more palatial setting for afternoon tea than the Grand Salon at the Baccarat Hotel. The experience is hallmarked by the Baccarat crystal brand, which has served royal households for centuries.
Unique bites ranging from an Ossetra Caviar Waffle Black Truffle Gougere to Fresh Fig Religieuse satiate adventurous eaters. Meanwhile, a separate “Le Petit Prince” experience, inspired by the award-winning namesake novella, treats kids to their own menu of chicken and waffles, mini donuts, linzer cookies, hot chocolate and more. Options for those with dietary restrictions are available.
2. Camellias at Hotel Bennett – Charleston, S.C.
Rosy pink hues and a glittering crystal chandelier glamorize the afternoon tea experience at Camellias at the Hotel Bennett, a family-friendly, quintessentially Charleston hotel. The menu even includes an eye-catching pink tea flavored with berries and adaptogens that “encourages biodiversity preservation.”
KID-FRIENDLY:17 Best Family Resorts and Hotels in the U.S.
Teas are of the highest quality, blended by the wellness- and sustainability-driven brand Tealeaves, while sumptuous foods reflect those of traditional, English afternoon tea service. Special teas and nibbles are available for youngsters, and dietary requirements can be fulfilled with advance notice.
3. Mary Cassatt Tea Room at The Rittenhouse Hotel – Philadelphia
The history of Philadelphia and The Rittenhouse Hotel is palpable during afternoon tea at the Mary Cassatt Tea Room. The sunshine-filled space overlooks a quaint courtyard (open for seating when the weather is nice) with walls covered in ivory and lattice.
Guests are treated to a generous selection of tea as well as sandwiches, canapes, scones and desserts, with special diet-friendly options available upon request. There’s no need for a separate kids’ menu. Youngsters will find something they love in the variety of scone flavors, simpler sandwiches and fun treats like cake pops, chocolate cups, and other mini confections.
4. Le Salon at the Windsor Court – New Orleans
Consider booking a vacation at the family-friendly Windsor Court hotel and making afternoon tea part of your stay. Nestled in the heart of downtown New Orleans, the property is a destination in itself—and that includes Le Salon, where harpists and pianists entertain guests during afternoon tea.
The menu comprises a diverse tea selection and traditional three-course meal for both adults and kids. Throughout the year, The Windsor Court also sprinkles local flair into several, themed afternoon tea experiences, including Mardi Gras Tea and Halloween Tea. Gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian items are available upon request.
5. La Gourmandise at the St. Regis Bal Harbour – Miami Beach
Choose between a chic solarium or tropical garden at Miami’s St. Regis Bal Harbour to indulge in afternoon tea at one of the city’s most luxurious destinations. La Gourmandise touts itself as having the city’s largest selection of tea, and its food menu follows suit.
A wide array of sandwiches and desserts are crafted with creativity and global ingredients from countries like Germany, Spain and France. Children, who must be at least 6 years old, get their own sandwiches and fair share of sweets spanning milkshakes, caramel popcorn, cupcakes, cookies, macarons and more. Dietary restrictions should be noted upon booking.
6. Palm Court at The Drake Hotel – Chicago
Upholding the tradition of serving tea for more than a century, The Drake Hotel draws visitors with its storied past that has welcomed visits from the Queen and Princess Diana. The lavish Palm Court sets the stage for afternoon tea, with a live harpist and seasonal menus with gourmet sandwiches, petit fours and an extensive tea list.
TAKE FLIGHT: 17 Best Flight Booking Sites for Cheap Airfares
Children ages 3 to 12 get their own selection of teas, hot chocolate, a “Kiddie Cocktail” and sandwiches. Vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free options are available upon request.
Build your itinerary with more Chicago family activities that are easy to fit into one day.
7. The Langham Huntington – Pasadena, Calif.
If your ideal setting for afternoon tea is a storybook setting, look no further than The Langham Huntington. Views of lush fairytale gardens complement an intimate, traditional service.
What truly sets this experience apart from others is its variety of delectable desserts. Macarons, cookies and cakes including seasonal options like a Peaches and Cream Gateau and berry tartlet satisfy any sweet tooth. The menu can be upgraded to a vegan or gluten-free option, for a small fee. For those who wish to extend their time with an overnight stay, the Langham Huntington Kids Program goes above and beyond to spoil little ones.
8. Blu at The Pfister Hotel – Milwaukee
Panoramic views of Milwaukee and Lake Michigan surround afternoon tea guests in the Blu lounge, perched on The Pfister Hotel’s 23rd floor. The “wow” factor continues with tableside tea blending presented by a Pfister Tea Butler using an all-silver service, including a replica of an 18th Century self-tipping teapot.
SUN AND SAND: 10 Best All-Inclusive Beach Resorts in the World
The Victorian Tea experience caters to parents and caregivers with a plethora of sandwiches and sweet treats. Kids 12 and under will also feel extra special with their own varied, All Grown Up menu. Gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan menus are available.
9. The Hermitage Hotel – Nashville
With plans to attend Spillin’ Tea with Draper James, you might be inspired to don a dress from the Reese Witherspoon-founded brand. The cheerful, Southern-charming patterns for which it’s known embellish the experience. Even the staff wear custom-designed Draper James uniforms.
Beyond its stylish aura, afternoon tea at The Hermitage Hotel pampers adults and kids 10 and under with tea sandwiches, scones and pastries inspired by Witherspoon’s cookbook, “Whiskey in a Teacup” and high-quality tea from In Pursuit of Tea. Certain dietary restrictions can be accommodated by notifying the hotel in advance.
10. The Courtyard Tea Room at the Boston Public Library – Boston
Literature lovers will swoon over afternoon tea at the Boston Public Library’s Courtyard Tea Room, where books adorn the setting, even down to the menu presentation. Like a good novel, the food is a feast for the senses.
EASY VACATIONS: 11 Guided Tour Companies That Offer Trips around the World
A generous assortment of savory and sweet bites ranges from curry chicken and chilled Maine lobster sandwiches, and from alfajores to strawberry matcha cupcakes. Guests with dietary restrictions can be accommodated with advance notice. Plan to bookend your experience with time to explore the library and dedicated Children’s Library, which often hosts story readings and other family-friendly activities.
11. The Grand America Hotel – Salt Lake City
Exotic teas and cocoas; dedicated gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian menus; and myriad sandwiches crafted especially for kids are only a few of the many reasons why The Grand America Hotel is one of the best places spots for children.
The experience is further elevated by the Lobby Lounge’s elegant decor and a photo-worthy beverage frosted with strawberries and creme Chantilly. Parents and caregivers can also enjoy an innovative twist to traditional sandwiches, with options like chicken tikka and seared New York strip. Guests with gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian or other dietary needs can be accommodated by letting the hotel know ahead of time.
12. The Driskill Hotel – Austin
Afternoon tea has been a long-standing tradition at The Driskill, which first opened its doors in 1886. The experience offers a taste of the hotel’s rich history while surrounding you with well-preserved features and museum-quality artwork.
FIND A DEAL: 12 Best Hotel Booking Sites for Cheap Prices
Kids will relish starting the afternoon with their own glass of bubbly (sparkling cider). The children’s menu also accommodates the pickiest eaters, with three courses that span a variety of French pastries, petit fours and finger sandwiches. Adults’ more refined palates will appreciate the pairing menu of locally inspired teas and recommended dishes. Special dietary requirements should be outlined upon reserving.
13. The Ballantyne – Charlotte, N.C.
Tradition goes a long way at The Ballantyne, whose experience is designed to mimic those of the best afternoon tea houses in England. Tea hails from the Rare Tea Company, which has been enjoyed by the Royal Family and continues to be served at some of the world’s most prestigious establishments—including London’s iconic afternoon tea destination, Claridge’s.
Kids enjoy their own special menu, while adults can choose between a traditional experience or one with a little panache in the form of some Moet and Chandon Imperial Champagne. Gluten-free items are available upon request and vary depending on the week.
More Humble Boots via FamilyVacationist:
The article 13 Best Afternoon Tea Experiences in the U.S. for Kids Under 12 was originally published on HumbleBoots.com.