Looking for some fun along with your food? From knights and horses to magicians and model trains, many New Jersey restaurants offer themed and interactive dining experiences for the entire family. Read on for more than 15 spots that will make your next family meal a bit more magical.
Check out our restaurant guide for more ideas for kid-friendly eating experiences, including restaurants where kids eat free and the best family-friendly restaurants near Liberty Science Center. Top it all off with some doughnuts or ice cream. Bon appetit!
Breakfast in the Sky – Wildwood
Spending some time down the shore this summer? Start your day with breakfast on the Ferris Wheel at Morey's Piers. In 2018, Breakfast in the Sky will be offered Saturdays–Mondays, July 21–August 20.
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C.B. Huntington's Family Restaurant – Bayville
Known for its elaborate display of toys trains. Offering a unique dining experience, the mini-locomotives run throughout the entire eatery, passing each table. Also, stop by Black Beard’s Cave, tucked behind the restaurant, for amusement park and mini-golf fun. Go on a Tuesday for the Family Eat & Play special, which includes pizza, drinks, appetizer, and 25 arcade tokens.
Chatterbox Drive-In – Augusta
Take a step back in time. This old-time drive-in restaurant will have your family feeling like it's the 1950s. Pull your car up to have your order taken from your car, or head inside to revel in the nostalgia on display. With classic American dishes on the menu there's bound to be something for everyone in your family. And of course don't leave without having some ice cream!
Clinton Station Diner – Clinton
This diner is perfect for the train lover in your family. You can dine inside a train car or choose to eat in their main room where there is a model train suspended from the ceiling for little engineers to enjoy. Combine the choo-choo excitement and fantastic food choices, and the Clinton Station Diner is soon to be one of your favorites.
Chuck E. Cheese – Multiple Locations
With a motto of “kids need a safe, wholesome environment in which they can laugh, play, and simply be kids,” Chuck E. Cheese is a top pick for family entertainment. Loaded with games, rides, and a budget-friendly menu, this eatery has multiple locations across the garden state (Wayne, East Hanover, Paramus, Union, North Bergen, Bridgewater, Jersey City, and Edison). Check local website for more.
Delsea Drive-In – Vineland
Catch a double-feature at New Jersey's only drive-in movie theater! Open from March to October (sometimes beyond, weather-permitting), the Delsea serves everything from popcorn and candy to chicken parm and pierogies.
Medieval Times – Lyndhurst
Enjoy a rousing live jousting tournament, marvel at awe-inspiring horsemanship and falconry, and enjoy a four-course meal at this Bergen County family favorite, where you'll be out of your seats cheering for your chosen knight. The food selection is kid-friendly (soup, chicken, dessert) and utensils are a no-no. Ticket prices start at $36.95, and lap children (under 3 years old) are free. Reservations are not necessary but highly recommended for a large party or a holiday weekend.
Rainforest Café – Atlantic City and Edison
This restaurant is part adventure, part eatery. Rainforest Cafe recreates a tropical rainforest setting, complete with a waterfall and vegetation, and the waiters are “safari guides” that take you on a dining voyage. Rainforest education classes and birthday parties are also available.
Eateries with Family Fun
Calandra's Mediterranean Grill – Fairfield
Pasta, seafood, pizza, and other Mediterranean delights will please patrons at this outdoor/indoor spot. On Sunday nights, kids under 13 eat free and will be treated to table-side magic.
Cloverleaf Tavern – Caldwell
Wednesday nights at this popular American pub feature Party Magic Entertainment from 6-8pm and half-priced kid meals.
Joe's Crab Shack – Multiple Locations
The second you arrive at Joe's you realize this is quite the dining experience. From dancing and singing waiters to cracking open lobster and crabs, the un-typical chain restaurant involves the entire family into the dining process. New Jersey locations include Clifton, Deptford, and South Plainfield.
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The Melting Pot's fondue is a crowd-pleaser.
The Melting Pot – Westwood
Make Friday night magic. “Magic Mike” Kirschner, an acclaimed and award-winning illusionist, performs tableside magic on Friday evenings from 7–10pm, from clever card tricks to mind-blowing metal bending. Menu options include chocolate and cheese fondue.
The Pop Shop – Collingswood
Kids will love the comfort food and fun activities at this lively retro eatery, which hosts a full schedule of kids' events including storytime lunches, character appearances, workshops, and more.
Rosalita's Roadside Cantina – Englishtown
Wednesday night is fiesta night at Rosalita's—kids eat free and can enjoy face painting, balloon animals, and other fun activities.
Silver Diner – Cherry Hill
Aside from delicious diner fare, the eatery hosts kids' events every Tuesday from 5-8pm with entertainers and fun activities.
The Telford Inn – Mantua
Feast on prime rib while the kids get busy with tableside magic and make your own sundaes on Tuesdays from 5:30-8:30pm.
Texas Roadhouse – Multiple locations
Round up the family on Tuesdays from 4-10pm for face painting, ice cream sundaes, and $1.99 kid meals at this country steak and rib joint. NJ locations include Old Bridge, Hamilton, North Plainfield, Holmdel, Turnersville, and Howell.
AMC Dine-In Theatre – Multiple Locations
These theaters offer a "fork-and-screen" family experience. Featuring a menu of classic favorites—pizza, burgers, and sandwiches—AMC Dine- In Theatre offers full waiter service during the latest feature films.
Top photo courtesy of the Chatterbox Diner. All photos courtesy of the restaurants
Originally published 2014; updated February 2018.