Cancun is a vacation destination with something for everyone, including families. Often wrongly labeled as Party Central, Cancun also boasts endless activities, tours, resorts and restaurants for all ages.
You might be surprised to hear that popular bars like Senor Frogs and Carlos n' Charlie's are also family-friendly restaurants, as long and you and the kids hightail it out of there by 9 or 10 pm. Local downtown favorites like La Casa de los Abuelos and Marakame feature play areas and children's menus. Johnny Rockets in Plaza La Isla is a great place to stop for lunch before a visit to the Interactive Aquarium. Fish Fritanga is a delicious seafood option located on the lagoon in the Hotel Zone with a small playground and a great view for mom and dad. Perico's is a lively Mexican restaurant in downtown Cancun that encourages audience participation in its frequent shows. Mextreme, which is located in Cancun's Party Center in the Hotel Zone, is always a fun, lively place to have dinner.
Another options is to eat at one of the many restaurants in Plaza Las Americas that have kids play areas like Chili's, Tok's or McDonalds.
When in Cancun, check out these restaurants that the entire family can enjoy.
Hidden in an upscale neighborhood in downtown Cancun, Marakame is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They even deliver. This indoor/outdoor restaurant is great for an event, like a baby shower or birthday, a family breakfast or a romantic dinner. They have an small indoor playground for the kids. Marakame features an extensive menu of pasta, seafood, salads, pizza and a fully stocked bar. The ambiance is welcoming and relaxing. Leave your board shorts and flip flops at the hotel, this crowd is casual but fashionable. To arrive, take the bus, get off at the first stop downtown and then take a 25 peso taxi to the restaurant. (887-1010, 887-0187)
When visitors and locals go in search of a festive Mexican meal, they usually end up at La Parrilla. The restaurant features a large salon and terrace, festive colors and fountains, and those wanting a little variety can order a margarita mixed from one of 50 different tequila brands. One menu favorite is tacos al pastor, which is made with pineapple, pork and salsa, and other Mexican staples are served with handmade tortillas. Plenty of seafood choices and steak are also available. Live mariachi music begins at 8:00pm. Look for the Mole (a popular Mexican sauce) Festival each May. (998-287-8119, 998-193-3973)
Carlos n' Charlie's
Carlos n' Charlie's is not only a Cancun party institution, it's a restaurant that serves delicious food, and if you visit during the day for lunch or in the early evening for dinner it's a fun place for the entire family. Kids can order non-alcoholic versions of delicious fruity adult beverages and the extensive menu features a wide variety of choices, including appetizers, Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes, BBQ, hamburgers, sandwiches and dessert. The ambiance and staff are always entertaining and a lot of fun. Carlos 'n' Charlie's is located in the Hotel Zone at km 8.5 in Plaza Forum by the Sea. (998-883-4468, 998-883-1862)
Diners can literally "saddle up" to the bar at Perico's because the bar stools, well, have saddles on them. This lively atmosphere is perfect for group lunches or just groups in general. Waiters dress as Mexican zapatas (revolutionaries), and diners are routinely treated to entertaining performances by magicians and mariachi bands. The food is the typical Mexican fare, and the mole sauce (usually made with flavorful ingredients such as cocoa, cinnamon, cloves and garlic and served with turkey or chicken) purports to be some of the best in Cancun. (998-884-3152, 998-884-0415)
Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.
This American chain-restaurant is just as popular in Cancun as it is in the good ol' US of A. Cancun, a city surrounded by water, has some wonderful seafood restaurants to choose from, but Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. is often busy because guests recognize the name. In addition to the wide variety of shrimp dishes, you'll also find salads, sandwiches, steaks, and scrumptious desserts on the menu. The dessert sampler is a real crowd-pleaser. When you order a margarita, the drink it prepared at your table. This family-friendly establishment has a special menu for children and there is a small play area for kids. ((998) 885-3010)
Sometimes, while on vacation, you tire of all the local cuisine and you just want a burger. Well, when that craving hits you in Cancun, go to Johnny Rockets. The soda fountain theme will make you think you've traveled back in time to the 1950s. The restaurant serves up some of Cancun's best hamburgers, but the BLT sandwiches, chili dogs, and onion rings do not disappoint either. The service is good and food is normally served quickly. This restaurant is in a busy part of the shopping mall, near the Interactive Aquarium. ((998) 883-5574)
El Fish Fritanga
This casual seafood restaurant is located smack in the middle of the Hotel Zone but it's a local favorite. El Fish Fritanga's restaurant is open daily from 11 am to 11 pm but their taco stand is open from 7 am until 1 am. This is a great spot for a family meal. They have high chairs and a changing station available and an outdoor kids play area. Prices on their menu range from 10 to 200 pesos (USD: 75 cents to 15 dollars). They are located on the lagoon so you'll enjoy a great view. They have all this to offer plus their food is delicious. Try the ceviche or fish tacos with a frosty chelada (prepared beer drink). (998 840 6216)
The name Senor Frog's is synonymous with fun. This bar and restaurant has sawdust on the floor so you don't have to worry about your children making a mess. Kids can order "virgin" versions of the famous drinks in yard glasses that people love to take home as souvenirs. Around 9pm this famiy-friendly restaurant turns bar/nightclub. The lively staff always makes sure everyone has a blast. Conga lines, balloons, confetti and craziness are the norm here. Senor Frogs know how to throw a party. Try the glow paint party on Sundays or the foam party on Wednesdays. (998-883-1092)
La Casa de Los Abuelos
La Casa de Los Abuelos (The Grandparents' House) is a Mexican family restaurant and bakery. They have four locations, two of which are in Cancun. The idea here is that the food is traditional Mexican fare, something your abuelos (grandparents) might make, if you are Mexican of course! Try one of their unique quesadillas, one with chorizo (Mexican sausage) and potato, or even nopales (cactus). Then try some pan dulce (sweet bread) for dessert from the bakery. This restaurant is great for families because they have an enclosed playroom which is supervised by nannies where kids can hang out before or after they eat. (998 884 5164)
Mextreme is a colorful open-air Mexican restaurant located at km 9 in the Hotel Zone, right in the heart of Cancun's Party Center. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, and a whole bunch of fun. Waiters put on little shows, do magic tricks and even prepare guacamole right at your table. Mextreme is not for party poopers, so if you're not in the mood to play along, this isn't the restaurant for you. Be sure to try one of their many flavored margaritas and one of their "parillas" which can be shared by 2-3 people. (998 883 0404)
About Kristin Busse
After vacationing in Mexico many times, Kristin decided to move to Cancun "for a year". That was in 2001.
Kristin grew-up in Michigan and studied Communications at Michigan State University. Chicago was her home for the next 9 years.
Mexico has been good to Kristin, she became a mother and achieved her lifelong dream to become a professional singer. She loves to explore the area on the weekends with her 5 year old son, and she enjoys sharing her experiences and discoveries with others through writing and social media.
Read more about Kristin Busse here.
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