30A’s Hot Spots for Kid-friendly Dining (2023) - 30A



30A’s Hot Spots for Kid-friendly Dining (2023)

By: Whitney Rabalais | Posted Aug 11, 2023

Along the roughly 20 miles of Scenic Country Road 30A, visitors can find bike paths, unique communities, and plenty of public beach access points. But parents may be concerned about how to entertain their brood beyond the beach. Whether it be just dinner or dinner and a ‘show’ we have you covered from Inlet Beach to Dune Allen and off the sandy paths in between.

Winner: North Beach Social

Day and night for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the short drive from 30A to North Beach Social on Highway 331 doesn’t disappoint. Located on the sandy south shore of the Choctawhatchee Bay, this locals’ stronghold offers tons of outdoor games, music, and, of course, the calm waters of the bay all outfitted to keep the kiddos gaming, dancing, or frolicking. There is no shortage of picnic tables spread across the immense grounds with a menu that is sure to satisfy a wide variety of tastes and demographics. As a bonus, Fido need not be left behind as North Beach Social is TOTALLY dog-friendly. No shoes? No shirt? No problem! 

Runner-up: Pizza by the Sea

What kid doesn’t want pizza for dinner? This fan darling boasts locations across 30A in Seacrest, Watercolor, Gulf Place as well as Sandestin, so no matter where you find yourself and your family, there’s a colorful location close by. Offering a variety of restaurant-favorite pizzas along with a build-your-own option, there’s plenty to choose from. Pizza’s not your family’s forte? The menu has a solid serving of salads, sandwiches, pasta, and, predictably, kid-friendly sweet endings. 

 Third Place: Pickle’s Burgers and Shakes

Located in the classically charming community of Seaside, Pickle’s Burgers and Shakes sports a vintage hamburger stand vibe and plenty of time-honored tastes to please.  Naturally, burgers are the standouts varying from pimento cheese to patty melts, bbq cheddar bacon to mushroom Swiss. They even offer alternatives like turkey and veggie burgers. Hot dogs, fried pickles, and shrimp or chicken baskets continue the beachside burger stand culture while capping it all off with hand-spun ice cream shakes. While chocolate or Oreo might be the pick for the younger crowd, more sophisticated tastes would do well to turn their attention to the red velvet shake. The cherry on top is optional, but people-watching is mandatory. 

More Kid-friendly Dining Nominees

The following institutions might not have made it to the very top but all deserve acknowledgments as worthy challengers for next year’s top spots. Each has its own unique attributes and a commitment to quality, family-friendly environments. Plus, with only three able to garner the top spots, these establishments broaden your choices to cover over a week of opportunities to get the cook out of the kitchen.

The Big Chill 

Positioned adjacent to both Watersound and Prominence communities, The Big Chill (formally The Hub) offers not one, not two but six different dining establishments all sharing a large central lawn for spirited sprites to gallop about and open-air or screened-in options for seated feasting. From tacos, bbq, seafood, and a customary ice cream stand, appropriately named Mr. Freeze, there’s a tasty option for even the pickiest pipsqueak. But kids can not be entertained by food alone, so thankfully The Big Chill accommodates Family Movie Nights, live music, and DJ Dance parties as well as seasonal events throughout the year.

30A’s Beach Happy Cafe

Beach Happy Cafe. Photos by Lauren Athalia.

Fronting Scenic 30A on a most convenient corner in Watercolor, Beach Happy Cafe welcomes everyone to soak up the 30A fervor in a fun, family-friendly atmosphere.  Breakfast pastries and sweet treats abound with some gluten-free options available. To accompany, they also offer coffee beverages and smoothies.  More substantial choices include sandwiches and wraps, including a delicious vegan wrap. Should the kids become a bit hangry, it’s a great stop for a quick in-and-out bite. Just don’t forget the ice cream.

Old Florida Fish House

Huddled on the banks of picturesque Eastern Lake, this popular spot has outdoor seating galore with lawn games, plenty of room for roaming, and an overwater dock for the little ones to search for creatures from the sea. Speaking of seafood, here it’s as fresh as it gets with diverse offerings for adults, kids, and kids at heart. The Kid’s Menu offers friendly standards like mac & cheese and chicken tenders, but if your young ones have a taste for sushi, there are a large variety of rolls as well.

The Bay

Just across the highway from our #1 kid-friendly establishment (North Beach Social), The Bay has the same great water views, a sandy shore, musical options, and weekly beach bonfires. There’s plenty of room to roam in the sand, on the shore, or in the water. Pull up in your car or boat, disembark, and enjoy seafood, sandwiches, sand, and sun in an equally kid and dog-friendly waterside hangout.

Amici Italian Kitchen

Inlet Beach has grown by leaps and bounds over the years and no more than at 30Avenue at the eastern junction of 30A and Highway 98. Amongst several worthy restaurants in the shopping center lies Amici Italian Kitchen. As the name suggests, there are plenty of Italian-American favorites to choose from; notably the meatballs should not be missed. Additionally, their pizzas are absolutely scrumptious and sure to satisfy the tikes. Can’t stay for dinner? Just call for take-out and while waiting for your order, let the kids go wild in the center’s green, equipped with hula hoops, cornhole, and lots of room to run.

Stinky’s Fish Camp

On the far western end of 30A in Dune Allen, you’ll find the famous Stinky’s Fish Camp.

Seafood rules here through their showcasing of many Louisiana specialties. The kids’ menu is surprisingly vast and varied, even offering a selection of “Smaller Bites” geared towards tiny appetites for just $3.95. Taco Tuesday is another popular weekly happening sure to buoy the tummies of young and young at heart. With music most nights and at Sunday brunch, you can bring the whole family for a toe-tapping good time.

FOOW (Fish out of Water)

With its beachfront location adjacent to Watercolor Inn, FOOW furnishes stunning views and cool vibes. Supplying breakfast, lunch, and dinner this casual eatery serves up quality cuisine for all ages with a dedicated menu for the kids and plenty of drink options for adults. Showcasing indoor and outdoor seating families can soak in the salt air and bathe in the sun while immersing in the beauty of the Gulf.

For a complete list of this year’s 30A Hot Spots Award winners, click here


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Whitney Rabalais is a gastronome who has studied the culinary and cocktail arts and cultures for over 40 years. Whitney makes a mean galatine du poulet and a meaner mai tai.