"These family-friendly spots satisfy parents and kids alike -- color on tablecloths, read menus in 3-D and feed even the pickiest eaters. "
We believe that family dining should be good for everyone. And although The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel has its share of family-welcoming chains, we seek out places that reflect the region’s unique flavors.
Matzaluna– When our son was in elementary school, we’d go here for pizza (him) and pasta (us). He would take along toy cars and draw racetracks on the butcher paper table covering until his pizza arrived.
Lazy Flamingo(Sanibel Island and Pine Island) – Now that our son is a teen, he loves the spicy chicken wings at the Flamingo. The original on Sanibel keeps kids busy with a hanging ring-on-a-string game.
Hungry Heron– This eatery, with its cartoon-airing TVs and more than 30 kid selections on the menu, definitely rates among kids.
Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille– Doc Ford’s is just down the road from the school and ball fields, so families inevitably end up here after the game. Kids keep busy with fun games on the kids’ menu, and parents are happy in the company of other families.
Boca Grande & Outer Islands
Loose Caboose – Set in a historic train depot, it carries a sweet cargo of homemade ice cream for bribery purposes. The from-scratch menu is designed for family appetites and budgets. Offers pet-friendly outside dining.
Cabbage Key Inn– It’s more than lunch. It’s an adventure. It requires a boat trip to get there. Relax on the patio, where the kids can race around the lawn and feed the ducks.
Bubble Room– Servers wearing funny hats, nostalgic toys everywhere, an electric train running under the ceiling – this place is equal parts fun house and restaurant.
RC Otter’s– You feel like you’ve stepped into a Sunday comic strip here, there’s so much color and animation. The Gator Bites stand among 20 small-fry entrees priced at $4.99. Pet-friendly outdoor dining area.
Big Hickory Seafood Grille– Egrets, pelicans and one little blue heron fish for their lunch while kids eat grouper ""fingers"" on the back porch of a bait shop-fishing charter shack.
Doc’s Beach House – Doc’s is right on the beach, and you can eat your burgers and pizza at an outdoor table, in the downstairs casual dining room or upstairs in the air-conditioning.
Fort Myers Beach
Times Square Sidewalk Eateries– Sit down at a sidewalk café for seafood or Greek, or buy slices of pizza and ice cream cones and plop down on the sand for an easy sunset repast.
Waterfront Restaurant – Here’s another place where you can take it outside, with a view of boats chugging into Henley Canal. Kids love the ""Waterdoggie"" foot-long hot dog, so be sure to ask for it.
Tarpon House Restaurant at Sanibel Harbour– Read the menu from pictures on a 3D Viewmaster™. They even cut the crusts from the PBJs. Parents will like that the burgers come with carrot sticks instead of fries.
Shrimp Shack(Fort Myers, Cape Coral and Bonita Springs) – These restaurants are all about Florida style with casual attitudes, colorful and cartoonish wall murals and, best of all, seafood.
Broadway Palm Dinner Theater– Buffet line favorites such as pizza and mac‘n’cheese, plus family-tailored stage entertainment, such as “The Emperor's New Clothes” and “Cinderella.”
Joe’s Crab Shack– Order a round of Buccaneer Brews (kids’ punch) at this all-about-fun riverfront spot. Kids can build their own ice cream sundaes.
Iguana Mia(Cape Coral, Fort Myers and Bonita Springs) – The bright colors and faux murals are fun, plus they give the kids a taste of tacos, quesadillas and more common fare."