While the holiday season is wonderful for all, there’s a little extra magic in it for the children. Many area establishments invite more wonder into their offerings this holiday season and open their doors to the entire family. Places such as Historic Smithville have added a full repertoire of holiday festivities to their dining amenities that will delight kids of all ages and their parents too.
“We are family owned and operated, so we love the fact that so many other families make us part of their holiday tradition,” says Tony Coppola, Jr., partner and general manager of The Smithville Inn and Fred and Ethel’s Lantern Light Tavern.
For a side of entertainment with your meal, check out Smithville’s Christmas Tree Light Show on Lake Meone.
“People travel hours to see the trees on the lake and experience the tradition of Smithville in the holiday season,” Coppola says.
With more than 100 Christmas trees, constructed from more than 50,000 lights that are choreographed to dance to classic holiday tunes, this show is sure to delight all ages. The show begins the moment night falls and runs till 8:30 p.m Thursdays through Sundays from Nov. 24 to Jan. 2.
Following the show, head to Fred and Ethel’s for the perfect family-friendly dining experience. With classic favorites such as Ethel’s meatloaf ($14) and roast turkey ($14), as well as a full menu of salads, sandwiches, chicken tenders, burgers and more, Fred and Ethel’s is perfect for any palate. Fred and Ethel’s Lantern Light Tavern is open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., with select extended hours for the tavern.
Santa will also make two special breakfast stops at Fred and Ethel’s on Dec. 10 and 17, with a single seating at 9 a.m. only. Fred and Ethel’s will serve up their traditional breakfast favorites, while each kid will have a chance to tell Santa what they want for Christmas.
“Smithville has been part of the holiday tradition in our area for generations, and we are working hard to continue that tradition for generations to come,” Coppola says.
Fred and Ethel’s is located at 1 N. New York Road in Galloway. For more information call 609-652-0544 or go to HistoricSmithvilleNJ.com.
For a winter wonderland a little further south, head to Congress Hall in Cape May.
“Congress Hall is America’s oldest seaside resort, and with that comes time-honored traditions. Celebrating our bicentennial anniversary this year, breakfast or brunch with Santa is just one of many holiday traditions that families enjoy year after year,” says Colleen Buckley, vice president of brand marketing at Cape Resorts.
Congress Hall transforms into the North Pole at the shore beginning Nov. 25 and running through Jan. 1. During the Winter Wonderland, guests can take a ride on the Congress Hall Express, join Mrs. Clause for story time, make gingerbread houses, shop in the holiday village, enjoy the winter concert series, have breakfast with Santa and more, all while delighting in the over-the-top holiday decorations.
The Winter Wonderland festivities will run from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays, Nov. 25 through Dec. 23, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 26 through Jan. 1. Breakfast with Santa will take place from 9 a.m. to noon every Saturday, Nov. 26 through Dec. 17; $18.85 for adults and $9.95 for children 4 to 12.
On Sundays, Dec. 4 and 18, families can join Santa and his elves for a delicious brunch in the Grand Ballroom; $45 for adults and $22 for children 4 to 12.
“We love being a part of the holidays and do our very best to make every event special and memorable. Our Winter Wonderland and breakfasts and brunches with Santa are something we enjoy as much as our guests,” Buckley says.
Congress Hall is located at 200 Congress Place in Cape May. For more information call 609-884-6574 or go to CapeResorts.com.
The Reeds at Shelter Haven
Another seaside holiday haven is the Reeds at Shelter Haven. Join Santa and his elves as the Reeds kicks off the holiday season with a family-friendly sing along, followed by the tree-lighting ceremony. Complimentary hot chocolate and cookies will be served along with lots of holiday cheer. The festivities begin at 4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 25. Then on Saturday, Nov. 26, you can watch the Stone Harbor Christmas Parade pass by the Reeds and have dinner at Sax, where you can enjoy delicious selections such as a creamy gruyere fondue ($14), charcuterie board ($22), hanger steak ($30), half roasted chicken ($23), branzino ($30), burgers, salads and much more. Kids 12 and under can choose items such as mac and cheese, chicken fingers or grilled cheese served with a choice of grapes, apples, French fries or mashed potatoes ($9).
The Reed’ will also host Santa for their famous Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Dec. 4 and 11, where children will have the opportunity to craft a special gift for the family and meet Santa. Reservations are required for parties of six or more and strongly recommended for smaller groups.
The Reeds at Shelter Haven is located at 9601 Third Ave. in Stone Harbor. For more information call 609-368-0100 or go to ReedsAtShelterHaven.com.
While dining with a side of family-fun entertainment may be a wonderful way to create new holiday traditions, sometimes a quiet family dinner is all you need.
Wingcraft Kitchen and Beer Bar
After a busy day of holiday shopping at the Tanger Outlets, Wingcraft Kitchen and Beer Bar is the perfect option. Serving high-quality pub food, the menu will please both foodies and 5 year olds. Selections such as the short rib gravy burger ($11.99) with the Pat LaFrieda burger blend, American cheese, pulled short rib and Left Hand Stout caramelized onions; the roasted pecan and pear salad ($11.99) with spinach, roasted pecans, roasted pine nuts, pears and gorgonzola; or mac and cheese ($9.99) with white truffle or country cheddar provide great food that the entire family will enjoy. Open 11 a.m. to midnight, Sundays through Thursdays and 11 to 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Wingcraft Kitchen and Beer Bar is located at 2010 Baltic Ave. in Atlantic City. Call 609-541-2799 or go to WingcraftAC.com.
For those nights when you just need a quick bite, consider stopping by Chido Burrito in Northfield. Chido Burrito is quick, easy, delicious and full of healthy options. For a health-conscious option consider a rice bowl, salad, vegetarian or seafood selection. If holiday shopping has worked up a big appetite, opt for the “mission-style monster” burrito. Prices vary based on the dish, but range between $7.69 and $9.99 for entrée selections. The kids menu (12 and under) comes with chips, a small drink and a mini churro and range from $3.79 to $7.19. The meats and salsas are all made in-house, and the guacamole is made fresh throughout the day. There are gluten-free and vegetarian options available.
Chido Burrito is located at 807 Tilton Road in Northfield. For more information call 609-484-1480 or go to ChidoBurrito.com.
Other family friendly restaurants:
Johnny Rockets in Bally’s Atlantic City: Located at 1900 Pacific Ave. in Atlantic City. For more information call 609-340-2000 or go to Caesars.com.
A Touch of Italy: Located at 6629 Black Horse Pike in Egg Harbor Township. For more information call 609-646-1855 or go to TouchOfItaly.net.
Assaggio! Restaurant: Located at 500 W. White Horse Pike in Egg Harbor City. For more information call 609-965-3303 or go to AssaggioGalloway.com.
Angelo’s Fairmount Tavern: Located at 2300 Fairmount Ave. in Atlantic City. For more information call 609-344-2439 or go to AngelosFairmountTavern.com.
Blue Water Grille: Located at 60 N Maine Ave., Atlantic City. For more information call 609-343-7447
Kibitz Room: Located at Amherst Ave., Margate City. For more information call 609-823-0200.