Nestled on a barrier island in southeastern North Carolina, Carolina Beach is a laid-back beach community with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Cape Fear River on the other. Carolina Beach vacation rentals offer stunning water views and upscale amenities. After a day of splashing in the waves or exploring the shore for unique shells, take your family out for a phenomenal meal. Fresh seafood and a good time are on the menu in most of the locally owned restaurants. Whether you’re looking for a filling breakfast or a family meal on the go, there’s a place in town that fits the bill. Start with these top 10 Carolina Beach kid-friendly restaurants.

1. Wake N Bake Donuts

Skip the soggy bowl of cereal at your vacation rental and stop by Wake N Bake Donuts for fresh baked goods and coffee. The kids enjoy the playful names of the donuts while you try the unique flavor profiles. Grab a dozen donuts or a combination of fritters and donuts to take to the beach as snacks for later in the day, or chow down at one of the tables and ask for seconds and possibly thirds on the coffee.

2. Michael’s Seafood Restaurants

With a Tiki hut feel, Michael’s Seafood Restaurant is fun for the entire family. When your plates arrive at the table, marvel at the gigantic portions. Order a bucket of clams and see if your family can eat to the bottom of it. For the picky eater, there are staples such as steak and chicken kabobs on the menu, and the kids’ menu provides smaller portions of seafood and burgers. Be sure to save room for the Death by Chocolate dessert. Take the kids to the front to pay the bill and let them marvel the fish-filled aquarium built into the stand.

3. Kate’s Pancake House

Enjoy an early meal with your family at Kate’s Pancake House, which covers breakfast and lunch hours. Discover unusual combinations of toppings for your pancakes on this delightful menu. The kid’s menu provides smaller portions, but many of the same toppings; kids especially love the s’mores pancakes with chocolate, marshmallows, and graham crackers. For lunch, order a vegan option, or sink your teeth into a juicy hamburger. Show up early or plan to wait for a table, since the large portions and reasonable prices attract a crowd.

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4. Hang Ten Grill

With surfboards on the ceiling and bright blue walls, Hang Ten Grill is a hot spot for families with young kids and the young at heart. Your burger and fries arrive in a lined basket, enhancing the laid back feeling. Other popular menu items include wings with a kick and onion rings. The grill offers a kids’ menu with generous portion sizes, making it well-suited to older kids as well.

5. Squigley’s Ice Cream and Treats

Refuel after an afternoon of exploring the local state park or kayaking on the Cape Fear River with a stop at Squigley’s Ice Cream and Treats. Indulge in multiple flavors of rich homemade ice cream, or treat yourself to a banana split. If you’re up for it, order the seven-scoop sand castle with your choice of toppings and see if your family can finish it off. Select a box of salt water taffy to take back to your vacation rental.

6. Pop’s Diner

Designed to look like a throwback to the 1950s, Pop’s Diner is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. Select a booth and order a milkshake to drink while you wait for your meal. Enjoy a juicy burger and basket filled with hand-cut fries. This diner offers vegan options and smaller portions for little hands. Order take-out and walk down to the beach for a picnic lunch.

7. Flaming Amy’s Burrito Barn

Skip the seafood and enjoy an evening of spicy Mexican food. Kids love the bright red tables and multi-colored plates of Flaming Amy’s. The family-friendly atmosphere of this restaurant starts with high chairs and booster seats and continues to the kids’ menu that includes tacos, burgers, chicken, and nachos. Try a new flavor of salsa from the salsa bar to go with your generous portion of food. Slowly slurp your margarita while the kids enjoy a plate of nachos before dinner.

8. Uncle Vinny’s Pizzeria Ristorante

Enjoy a simple cheese pizza or load up with all the toppings at Uncle Vinny’s Pizzeria Ristorante. Kids love pizza, and this restaurant loves kids. Take a seat at one of the outside tables to enjoy the fresh sea air and watch the sun go down. If pizza isn’t your favorite, order a pasta dish or sub sandwich to eat while the kids chow down pepperoni pizza.

9. Holy Smoke That’s BBQ

Pig out on some of that great Carolina barbecue at Holy Smoke That’s BBQ. This hidden gem is located just off the beaten path and tucked away in a shopping center. If you have a picky eater, order the fried chicken and substitute french fries for the hush puppies. Your affordable lunch or dinner is cooked fresh while you wait. Order an extra helping of mac and cheese since it’s sure to be a hit.

10. Bowmans at the Beach

Don’t worry about the calorie police while you enjoy the lightly battered seafood served in generous portions at Bowmans at the Beach. When you need a break from the sun, duck into this eatery with your flip-flops and beachwear and fit right in with the casual, nautical-themed atmosphere.

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