11 Local Beach-Themed Restaurants for Vacay Vibes

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If you want a quick beach getaway without sitting parked on 95, check out these beach-themed local restaurants. Bypass beach traffic (and skip the “are we there yet” chorus) by digging in to one of these eateries that dish up tropical treats and seaside decor. Some even let kids play in the sand! From new brand-new Boardwalk Bar & Arcade at The Wharf to worth-the-drive Bowleys on the Bay, swear you’ll feel the ocean breeze.

In the City

Boardwalk Bar & Arcade

It may not be the actual beach, but hanging out at The Wharf always makes us feel like we’ve gone on a mini vacation. Feel like you’re sitting oceanside at this new addition to The Wharf where beach bites include classic boardwalk staples like corn dogs, boardwalk nachos and jumbo pretzels. The kids’ menu features pizza, Mac and cheese and, naturally, cotton candy (it is the boardwalk, after all). You’ll find a small area with arcades and skee ball for pure seaside thrills. After lunch (or a snack), enjoy more beach-themed fun at The Wharf. Spend time on the family-sized swings, dash through the splash pad or hop on the free jitney for a short cruise.

Boardwalk Bar & Arcade
715 Wharf St. NW
Washington, DC 20024
Online: boardwalkwharf.com

The Boardwalk Bar & Eatery 

You don’t have to be near the water to feel like you’re hanging at the shore. You’ll find all the trappings of boardwalk life here: shuffleboard, skee ball, a photo booth (for those classic photo strips!) and even an indoor swing. The OG Boardwalk Bar (sister to The Wharf location) is located in the heart of Chinatown. Pop in for free popcorn every day (Tues.-Fri. .4-7 and Sat. & Sun. 3-5 p.m.) while you wait for hot dogs and cotton candy. If you need a summer elixir, you can get that cotton candy straight up!

The Boardwalk Bar & Eatery
507 7th St. NW
Washington, DC 20004
Online: boardwalkbardc.com

Nick’s Riverside Grill 

Lounge on one of the outdoor sofas surrounding the fountain and you can keep eyes on your kids while they hit the splash pad just steps away. Enjoy the Bayou-flair of this Georgetown restaurant with an entree of wild Gulf shrimp or jerk chicken. Or sip a cocktail while you take in the passing boats and grab-and-go a spaghetti dinner for an easy night (Nick’s $32 family style meals are still available!). For more summer fun, board the Water Taxi (it pulls up right in front of the restaurant) and head to National Harbor for a ride on the Capital Wheel and a turn on the carousel – guaranteed boardwalk vibes!

Nick’s Riverside Grill
3050 K St. NW
Washington, DC 20007
Online: nicksriversidegrill.com




Tortuga Caribbean Bar & Grille

Vibrant colors and chill vibes will lure you in. But you’ll stay for the rooftop – misting fans to keep you cool on those hot summer days. There’s also a first-floor patio and indoor dining space, giving you ample options to relax and enjoy these tropical treats. The kids menu, or Little Mates, keeps the island vibes going with several seafood options but also features a couple of classic kid faves like cheeseburgers and chicken tenders. Unwind and relax to Caribbean tunes... we promise you'll think you're at the beach! 

Tortuga Caribbean Bar & Grille
514 8th Street SE,
Washington, DC 20003
Online: tortugadc.com

Colada Shop

With fluorescent pops of pink, yellow and blue this restaurant will send you on a quick trip to Havana. Lots of outdoor seating, including a rooftop patio, allows you to soak up the sun while sipping a tropical delight – from cocktails to Cuban coffee, they’ve got your thirst quenched. While there’s no kids menu, there are many kid-appealing options like the Colada Shop Cuban and Churros for dessert. Combine it all with some high energy from the staff and a blend of Panamanian, Puerto Rican, Columbian and Cuban music and it can feel like you’re traveling the Latin American beaches.

Colada Shop
1405 T St NW
Washington, DC 20009
Online: coladashop.com

THROW Social

If your beach dreams include lounging in a cabana, THROW Social might be just the place for you. Reserve a cabana so the whole fam has a place to chill and relax while you also engage in games of football bowling and curling (with no ice!). Enjoy some yummy eats and drinks in this place that will remind you of your favorite Miami paradise! While there is no kids menu, there are definitely some kid-friendly tastes. Do take note that it is 21 and up after 9 p.m. Fri,-Sat. 

Editor's Note: Some games are limited to kids 5 & up. 

THROW Social
1401 Okie St NE
Washington, DC 20001
(888) 847-6919
Online: throwsocial.com


In the ‘Burbs

It may not be Key West, but living the Key life is a lot closer than you think! MacDowell’s brings a Florida vibe to Leesburg with their warm sandy beach and tropical-themed menu. Toss in some live music, fire pits and tropical trees and you’ve got that beach feeling for days. While there is no dedicated kids menu, there is a dedicated “kid-zone” play pit filled with toys on the beach. Let the kids enjoy beach play while you sip your favorite brew on tap and listen to some relaxing tropical tunes.

Insider tip: if you want to make a real vacation of it, they Airbnb the Palm House right behind the beach.

202 B Harrison Street, SE
Leesburg, Virginia 20175
Online: macsbeach.com

Port-au-Prince Authentic Haitian Cuisine by Don Berto’s Kitchen 

Authentic Haitian cuisine is authentically cooked at this eatery, so be prepared to chill and relax (food prep is slow). This restaurant is best suited for adventurous eaters, but there is macaroni and cheese for picky eaters. Port-au-Prince isn’t just a  culinary journey, it’s an artistic one. Haitian art hangs throughout the restaurant giving you a rich sense of Haiti’s culture.  Immerse yourself and fall in love with the island of Haiti in this little kitchen right in DC.

7912 Georgia avenue
Silver spring, MD 20910
Online: paphaitiancuisine.com

Kentmorr Restaurant & Crab House

During the summer months, you can reserve a beach space on Kentmorr’s beach, but even after the season ends, you can come to Kentmorr Restaurant & Crab House to enjoy a beautiful beach vibe. Parents can enjoy some delicious seafood treats with adult drinks while the kiddos can order from the kids menu. It is a rather limited kids menu, but it does hit all the faves. Finish off the meal with a stroll along the docks or on the beach to extend the beach experience.

Kentmorr Restaurant & Crab House
910 Kentmorr Road
Stevensville, MD 21666
Online: kentmorr.com


Worth the Drive

Dockside Restaurant & Tiki Bar

With boats, cars and other fun things that have been “beached” for seating, Dockside offers quirky waterside dining on a slim stretch of actual beach. With great food, great service and a laidback atmosphere, this child and pet-friendly hangout is perfect for the whole family to get away from it all and soak up the rays.

Dockside Restaurant & Tiki Bar
1787 Castlewood Dr
Colonial Beach, VA 22443
(804) 224-8726
Online: facebook.com

Bowleys on the Bay

Just north of Baltimore (and approximately an hour drive from downtown DC), Bowleys On The Bay feels worlds away.  Kick back on the tropically-themed patio or dig your toes in actual sand at the beachside tables. Most weekends feature live music including steel drums, Reggae, Salsa, and Latin Jazz.  Sit back, watch the palm trees sway and enjoy fresh seafood on the bay.

Bowleys On The Bay
800 Chester Road
Middle River, MD 21220
Online: bowleysonthebay.com

—Meghan Yudes Meyers and Wendy Miller



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