Spending time with your family at the beach has a way of making the responsibilities of daily life seem a million miles away. The to-do list of meetings, commutes, carpools and soccer practices is replaced with building sandcastles, splashing in the waves and searching for seashells.
It’s a welcome change of pace for families, but before you get too cozy in that beach chair, the inevitable question remains: What’s for dinner?
Now I love to cook, but after a day in the sun, I’d rather relax and let someone else do the work. Fortunately, the Pensacola area has no shortage of restaurants ready to let moms and dads take the night off in the kitchen.
Most places are suitable for families with children (if you haven’t already noticed, we’re pretty laid back here…), but a few are especially good choices when you have young kids in your party. I’ve included them in this quick list of five kid-friendly beach restaurants you’ll want to try:
Flounder’s Chowder House
Located in the heart of Pensacola Beach, Flounder’s is a spacious, casual seafood restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating. A 55-foot shrimp boat, the M/V Flounder, sits just outside the entrance and an eclectic mix of beach and church relics fill the walls inside. Most tables have a view of the sound and its sandy beach, that’s been outfitted with volleyball nets. Kids can climb on board the large pirate ship playground and play just steps from your table. Flounder’s serves everything from seafood chowder to shrimp platters and sushi, as well as burgers and po-boys. Portions are large, and if you’re in the mood for fried seafood, you’ll have many options here. Diesel Fuel, a potent cocktail served in a mason jar, and gigantic three-layer slices of key lime pie (enough to share) are signature menu items.
Delicious homemade pizza awaits your family at this Perdido Key favorite. Lillian’s offers much more than just the standard cheese and pepperoni. You can order that for the kids, of course, but try more adventurous concoctions like the taco pizza or pizza scampi. Pasta, salads and sandwiches are offered, too. The restaurant easily accommodates large parties, and its chalkboard walls invite kids of all ages to leave their mark on this award-winning, casual eatery that’s enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.
Red Fish, Blue Fish
With a name straight outta Dr. Seuss, it has to be great for kids, right? Just wait ‘till you see the view, too! The food here is good, with fresh seafood delivered daily. Try any of several “small bites” plates, including less common choices like alligator bites and frog legs, or enjoy a po-boy in the backyard-like atmosphere. This place has a funky vibe with colorful reclaimed wood tables and seating, including (if you’re lucky enough to snag one) chairs around a fire pit. It’s the perfect spot to savor a cocktail and watch the sunset, and it is pet-friendly! Kids can play tetherball, corn hole or a human-sized Jenga here, too.
Walk right in from the beach for decadent Hershey’s ice cream at Boardwalk Café. Classic flavors share the cooler with newer favorites like salted caramel and rocky road. A waffle cone makes the perfect afternoon treat to enjoy on the boardwalk. The outdoor tables are ideal for people watching, or take a stroll down to the giant clamshell for one of Pensacola Beach’s most popular photo opps. The café also serves gyros and sandwiches if you’re looking for something different from the typical beach fare.
Everyone in the family can find something they’ll want to eat on Shaggy’s menu. Choose from fresh oysters on the half-shell, fried seafood baskets, tacos, pulled pork, or crab cakes, just to name a few. High-top tables overlooking Little Sabine Bay make this open-air dining experience one to remember. Inside, TVs broadcast the most popular sporting events. Best of all for kids, meals include a free dessert. Plus, fishing poles and bait are free to use out on the pier behind the restaurant.
What are your favorite kid-friendly beach dining spots in the Pensacola area? Leave us a comment!