Eating with kids on vacation can be a big hassle – or it can be loads of fun. While fast food and quick casual chain restaurants are typically pretty consistent, families may look for something a little more upscale or a little more unique when traveling on vacation. There are loads of fun restaurants for kids on vacation – places that aren’t specifically geared toward kids but still offer lots of fun activities for children. Here are some great, fun restaurants for kids on vacation – what is your favorite?
Fun Restaurants for Kids on Vacation
Disclosure: We visited Rustler’s Rooste, Corvette Diner, and Happy Dog at no cost during press trips over the years. All opinions are our own.
The Speedway Club at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord, NC
Racing fans will love dining at the Speedway Club at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. Book a window seat, and you’ll have one of the best views of the speedway available. There’s a kids’ menu, and on Fridays, kids 6 and under eat free and kids 7-13 eat for 50% OFF (when accompanied by an adult).
Rustler’s Rooste, Phoenix
Rustler’s Rooste in Phoenix, Arizona is a family-owned and operated cowboy steakhouse restaurant that kids absolutely love. From their longhorn steer that greets guests in the front of the restaurant, to the slide that runs from one level of the restaurant to the other, it’s unique and fun. The food, authentic cowboy fare, is delicious, and the views are beautiful. Rustler’s Rooste is closed one day per year (Super Bowl Sunday).
A visit to New York City isn’t complete without a visit to Ellen’s Stardust Diner. This kid-friendly restaurant is so much more than a diner – it features professional performers who not only wait on tables – they also entertain the whole crowd. My kids absolutely love visiting there, and we are always impressed with the caliber of talent. To limit the amount of crowds you face (they don’t take reservations) avoid having lunch on days with Broadway matinees, and always arrive early.
Chick & Ruth’s Deli, which has been featured on the Travel Channel’s Man Vs. Food, is an institution in Annapolis. Each morning, guests are invited to recite the Pledge Allegiance at 8:30 am Monday through Friday and at 9:30 am on the weekends. Owner Ted (son of Chick and Ruth) performs table side magic on a regular basis in the deli. The restaurant features breakfast, milkshakes, sandwiches, and more.
Corvette Diner, San Diego, CA
The Corvette Diner is a busy family-friendly restaurant located in Point Loma, San Diego. Because it’s popular, and reservations are only offered for large parties, arrive early for a shorter wait. The diner offers a full arcade with modern and classic games, as well as a DJ playing 50s and 60s music. Balloon artists create balloon animals for the kids (in exchange for tips), while the waiters and waitresses create fun straw and cup hairstyles for the girls. The diner features several different rooms, a main room, a box-car room, a day glow room, and a function room.
Alice’s Tea Cup is a fun, themed tea house located in NYC. With three locations, there is likely to be one nearby, when you are visiting the city. It’s a little more upscale, but still very kid friendly, and offers sandwiches, scones, and of course tea. On the weekends, breakfast and brunch is also offered.
The Yard, by restaurateur Sam Fox, features a large outdoor area with games including corn hole, ping pong, large Jenga, and more. While the kids definitely will be occupied, the restaurant also has delicious food and a kids’ menu, making it a great spot for families. It does tend to have a bar scene at night (it’s 21+ in the game area on Fridays and Saturdays after 6pm), so it’s best for families with kids to dine early.
Be Our Guest, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World is filled with kid-friendly restaurants, but one of it’s newest is arguably the most magical. Fans of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast will love visiting the Beast’s castle. Lunch is counter service, while dinner is table service. Make reservations well in advance, since this restaurant is extremely popular. Try the grey stuff – it’s delicious!
See our roundup of hotels for a Walt Disney World vacation.
Happy Dog, Cleveland
Happy Dog is a Cleveland institution, serving hot dogs with so many different fun toppings. Choose your dog type (from standard or vegan sausage, and then select your toppings. Options include unique toppings like everything bagel cream cheese, SpaghettiOs, and chunky peanut butter, although standard toppings are also offered. There are two Happy Dog locations in Cleveland – the original on Detroit Avenue, and the second location on Euclid Avenue.
History lovers will enjoy a trip to Michie Tavern, located among the presidential homes of Charlottesville, VA. This 18th century tavern features servers in period attire, as well as a delicious buffet featuring fried chicken. Guests can also take a self-guided tour of the property, and shop in their retail stores.
Eataly, with locations in Chicago, Boston, NYC (2 spots), and LA, is more than a restaurant. It’s a huge store, offering food counters, groceries, and restaurants all under one roof. It’s not specifically a family restaurant, but there’s so much to see and eat. I’d recommend going with slightly older kids – my 11 and 13 year olds love it. While the restaurants are delicious, it’s fun to visit the various counters to try a bunch of different things.
The San Antonio River Walk is such a fun spot with kids, and Casa Rio is one of our favorites. This family-friendly restaurant, which is the oldest on the River Walk, is also the most photographed. Request a table right on the river if your kids are old enough – the view is absolutely beautiful.
The Big Texan, Amarillo, Texas
Looking for a delicious Texas steak? The Big Texan Steakhouse features a 72 oz steak. There’s a motel and gift shop on property, as well as a zipline and maze.
What are your favorite fun restaurants for kids on vacation?