So, you carefully planned your family’s vacation to the Orlando, Florida, area’s attractions to include budget-friendly meals, resort-style dining, or buffets and quickly discovered that you want a different dining experience. You miss the friendliness of the restaurants back home, huh? Not to worry. Just a short drive east on Interstate 4 in between Orlando and ‘The World’s Most Famous Beach’, Daytona Beach, is Sanford, Florida. The Sanford/Lake Mary/Heathrow area, exits 101 a,b and c, is blessed with dozens of family-friendly restaurants from national giants like McDonald’s, Outback, and Olive Garden to small, locally-owned diners such as B-Bees, Scruffy Duffers, The Cattle ranch Family Steakhouse, and the Colonial Room. All of these are fine places to enjoy a tasty meal, but when my family wants to ‘eat out’, we often choose one of the following restaurants. They are our ‘Top Three Family-Friendly Restaurants’ in Sanford, Florida.
When we’re seeking fun and adventure, my daughter, Carmella, invites a few friends and we pop over to Kid Tropolis at 4932 W. SR. 46 in Sanford’s Westwood Village Plaza. In concept, Kid Tropolis is similar to Chuck e Cheese minus the guys in the giant animal costumes. The only noise you hear at Kid Tropolis is the sound of fun. Laughter and cheerful yelps abound! The menu consists of the always popular pizza, chicken wings, healthy wraps, sandwiches and a salad bar. The games are geared for all ages and allow the kids to burn off a few calories on the dance machine or ‘Guitar Hero’. Kid Tropolis is at the top of our list of family-friendly restaurants because not only is it fun, it fits our budget as well. We can have a great time for less than $75.00, including dinner! Beer and wine is available for the adults. There are several televisions expertly positioned throughout the dinning area for those on break from the fun. Visit their website or call (407) 936-3900 for information, book a birthday party and/or directions.
Our family’s second-most favorite place to eat in Sanford, is Joe’s Crab Shack located less than a mile east of Interstate 4 on SR 46 (exit 101c). Florida natives, in general, love seafood and as the name implies, Joe’s Crab Shack has seafood on the menu, plus they make it fun. The atmosphere is so laid-back that it’s almost backyard-ish. There is a playground complete with slides and sand, shade, picnic benches and music. Joe’s is so big on music that every now and then, since 1995, the staff sings and dances the Macarena while meandering through the dining area. Be careful. You’ll have the song stuck in your head long after you leave. They offer more than just crabs, so don’t feel as though you can’t take everyone. There are seven steampots on the menu. All of which are flavored differently. Our favorites are the Old Bay and Rajun Cajun. The pots come filled with crab, shrimp, sausage, fresh corn and potatoes. Fish and seafood platters are equally delicious. A full-liquor bar is available for the adults-try a margarita. You’ll enjoy yourself, I promise. A family of four can have a great time for about $100, including drinks and tip. Joe’s Crab Shack, our number two most family-friendly restaurant is located at 4659 W. State Road 46. Their phone number is (407) 323-0934 if you need more information, directions or just have questions.
Last on the list, but certainly not the end of family-friendly restaurant choices in Sanford, Florida, (or the Metro-Orlando area) is Wolfy’s Waterfront Bar and Grill on Lake Monroe in downtown Sanford. Wolfy’s is a Key West-style restaurant and bar nestled next to the marina on the St. Johns River. Occasionally, manatees can be seen while you enjoy an inexpensive meal on the wrap around , screened-in porch or inside the spacious, air-conditioned dining room that surrounds the full-liquor bar. Whether you dine inside or out you will find the views memorable and the food filling. Depending on the day and/or time, you might even be entertained by one of the area’s live bands. Assuming your family includes pre-teens and teenagers, a Friday night-complete with dinner, music and dancing- at Wolfy’s will surely be a popular choice for family dinners. Call 407.322.2150 for directions or more information.