Preschool Friendly Restaurants

If you are hitting the road for a family vacation this summer, then you will inevitably end up eating at a restaurant. Most sit-down family restaurants are kid-friendly, though there are some regional and national chains that are better than others when it comes to catering to families with young children. The following are some of my preschooler’s favorite places to dine (for less than $5):

Baker’s Square

Atmosphere: Casual family dining.

Kids Menu: Chocolate chip pancakes (served all day), turkey, macaroni and cheese, hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled cheese sandwiches for $2.99, and kid’s sundaes are only 59 cents.

Just for Kids: Coloring pages and crayons to keep your kids busy.

Fazoli’s

Atmosphere: Very casual. Smoke-Free. Hanging menu. No wait staff.

Kids Menu: Spaghetti with marinara/meat sauce or meatballs, baked ziti, lasagna, cheese ravioli, cheese and pepperoni pizza.

Just For Kids: Fazoli’s Kids Nights (Tuesdays 5-8 p.m.), children can eat, make crafts, and color in a special section of the restaurant. Also, kids’ meals are 99 cents all day.

Old Country Buffet

Atmosphere: Casual and smoke-free.

Kids Menu: Everything! There are more than 100 buffet items to choose from, including chicken, hot wings, spaghetti, tacos, corn dogs, carved meats and soups. Another favorite: The soft serve sundae bar where kids can build their own ice-cream masterpieces with a variety of toppings. If your kids are picky eaters, this is the place to visit.

Just For Kids: Since it’s a buffet there is no waiting. Also, the price is hard to beat. For kid’s ages 2 to 12, meals cost 60 cents times their age.

Texas Roadhouse

Atmosphere: Casual. If your child is as antsy as mine, this is a great place to eat. There is a rodeo-style atmosphere with upbeat music and line dancing. Your kids can kick up their heels and work up an appetite while they wait for their food to be served. In addition, you’ll be hard pressed to find another restaurant where kids are allowed to throw peanut shells on the floor.

Kids Menu: My daughter loves the free fresh-baked rolls served with cinnamon-honey butter before the meal. Sirloin tips, chicken fingers, hot dogs, cheeseburgers, ribs, and steak. Plus, all meals come with steak fries or mashed potatoes and fresh veggies or baked beans.

Just For Kids: Plastic take-home kids cups.

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.