The best places to eat with kids in Cairns and Port Douglas
Amid all the exciting activities that come with a tropical family holiday, finding great restaurants that suit your crew is an important factor to consider. To avoid taking a seat and leaving right after browsing an adult-only menu, or being crammed into a space that’s decidedly un-kid-friendly, it’s a good idea to narrow down some fail-safe options ahead of time. Here’s a list of family restaurants and cafes in Cairns and Port Douglas to help keep the hunger pangs at bay.
Muddy’s Cafe, Cairns
Located in the heart of Cairns’ largest playground and waterpark, Muddy’s Cafe offers a relaxed dining setting for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The little ones will be spoilt for choice with the kids menu and long list of fresh juices and smoothies. For breakfast the kids can dig into syrup-coated pancakes, a cheese toastie, or eggs on toast. For lunch and dinner, there are five great options: a chicken or beef slider with nuggets and chips, and fish, nuggets or a dagwood dog with chips.
Living up to its motto ‘eat, play, relax’, this destination ticks all the boxes.
Location: 174 Esplanade, Cairns City
Opening hours: Daily from 6am-7:30pm
Hot tip: While you’re at it, make a splash at these other swimming spots.
Wharf One, Cairns
Awarded a Certificate of Excellence by Trip Advisor in 2018, this cafe offers stunning water views and a menu that will excite both the adults and the kids.
Owners and old friends, Caroline and William, are parents to young children, so they know from experience how hard (and expensive) it can be to dine out with the family. That’s why they created a modern yet simple menu that suits all taste buds.
The ‘little people’s menu’ is bursting with tasty options. For breakfast, the kids can enjoy french toast with organic banana and local natural honey. For lunch, the chicken and cheese wrap with chips will be the perfect hunger buster. And then the kids can wash it all down with a fancy babyccino, complete with a dusting of chocolate powder, sprinkles, marshmallows and a cookie.
Wharf One plates up excellent food, but they also care about where their food comes from. Their philosophy is to use premium, fresh produce that, wherever possible, is grown, harvested and caught sustainably, ethically and locally.
Location: Wharf Street, Northern end of Trinity Wharf, Cairns
Opening hours: Daily from 7am-5pm
Hot tip: Once you’ve finished your meal, head to the Fig Tree playground less than a minute walk away for a play.
Prawn Star, Cairns
For fresh seafood in a floating restaurant, head to the Prawn Star at Marlin Marina.
Not only will you experience picturesque water views, but you’ll get to indulge in local seafood right off the trawler. Take in the salty air as you chow down on the freshest prawns, mud crabs, cooked bugs, oysters and sashimi.
Sit at a share table with other travellers to meet new people and share stories, and watch the kids pretend they’re sailing the seas. This family restaurant in Cairns is a must-visit!
Location: Marlin Marina, E Finger, Berth 31, Pier Point Road, Cairns
Opening hours: Daily from 11am-9pm
Hot tip: Mums and dads can order a bargain $5 beer or wine to wash down the seafood.
Ellis Bar and Grill, Ellis Beach
Continuously replacing menu items with more sustainable alternatives and decorating the interior with finds from local reclamation yards, this place has a good heart behind the good food.
The kids can pick a meal from the ‘kids corner’ for their feast; it’s full of classics like poached egg, bacon and toast, and battered fish with chips and salad.
To make the most of this gorgeous destination, take a stroll through the palm trees at Ellis Beach before or after your meal.
Location: Lot 13 Captain Cook Highway, Ellis Beach
Opening hours: Daily from 7am-5pm.
Hot tip: They flip free pancakes for kids each Saturday from 8am to 11:30am.
Paradise Palms, Kewarra Beach
Another excellent beachside family restaurant along the Cairns and Port Douglas coastline is Paradise Palms.
Choose from an indoor or outdoor table and enjoy a tropical breeze while you browse the modern Australian, pan Asian and European dishes.
The all-day menu is full of great options for kids and adults alike. Kids meals are just $12.50 each, and all are served with chips or penne bolognese. Adults are spoilt for choice, but we suspect they’ll be ordering seconds of the chilli and garlic prawns with cherry tomatoes and rice.
After your meal, eager explorers can take to the onsite Adventure Playground—featuring a super-slippery side, climbing frame, Queenslander-style cubby houses, flying fox and 21-metre jumping pillow (the adults will want a go of this one!). If your little ones are under five, there’s even a fenced mini adventure playground with soft-fall ground near the restaurant terrace.
Paradise Palms Restaurant is a popular spot, so make a reservation prior to arrival.
Opening hours: Monday to Thursday 7am-5pm; Friday to Sunday 7am-9pm.
Location: Paradise Palms Drive, Kewarra Beach
Hot tip: You can order gluten-free pizza bases if you need to cater to sensitive tums.
The Beach Shack, Kewarra Beach
Situated on a private beachfront just metres from the water, this is the perfect spot to relax and enjoy a meal together.
The Beach Shack will transport you to island living with its casual setting, breathtaking views of sandy shores and sunsets, and live music.
On Wednesday, it’s Tapas night; grab a few share plates and sides to share among the crew, such as the grilled calamari with green herb sauce and herb salad, or summer slaw and salted ricotta. On Fridays and Sundays, wood-fired pizza is on the menu, so expect a crowd. Don’t leave before trying the dessert pizza with banana, chocolate and hazelnut.
Be sure to secure a spot before you arrive, as seats fill up quickly.
Location: 80 Kewarra Street, Kewarra Beach Resort and Spa, Kewarra Beach
Opening hours: Wednesday 5pm-8:30pm, Friday 5pm-9pm and Sunday 3pm-8pm.
Port Douglas Surf Club
The team at Port Douglas Surf Club have kept some old faithfuls on the menu, but also mixed it up with coral trout tacos, taro chips and salsa, steamed barbecue pork buns and tempura tiger prawn sushi.
Book a table on the big open deck and take in the glorious Four Mile Beach views. The kids won’t need any encouragement to finish their meals as there’s an epic enclosed playground right next door to the restaurant to explore.
Location: Corner of Mowbray and the Esplanade, Port Douglas
Opening hours: Daily from midday to 8:30pm
Hot tip: Walk off your meal along Four Mile Beach and grab some family snaps along the palm-tree-lined strip.
Want more kid-friendly food options? Here’s a few to keep up your sleeve:
- Waffle On. 64A Shields Street, Cairns | This family owned and operated cafe serves up sweet and savoury waffles.
- Gelocchio. 9/93 The Esplanade, Cairns | Come here for the creamy goodness of authentic Italian gelato.
- Jaffle Head. 39 Lake Street, Cairns | The one and only jaffle shop in the city.
- Rusty’s Market. 57-89 Grafton Street, Cairns | Well-known for their fresh fruit and vegetables, and good value market cafe.
- Brewhaha Espresso Bar. 141 Barnard Drive, Mount Sheridan | The perfect pit-stop for cake and coffee. Here are some other coffee hot spots for the parents’ caffeine fix.
- Apex Milk Bar. 24 Hoare Street, Manunda | Operating since 1960 in the same location, you can expect tasty burgers, fish and chips, and milkshakes.
- Mondo’s on the Waterfront. 34 The Esplanade, Cairns | Enjoy casual al fresco dining with waterfront views.
- Palm Cove Surf Club. 135 Williams Esplanade, Palm Cove | Half-priced kids meals are on offer Tuesday to Friday from 5pm to 6pm.
Need some inspiration for how to entertain kids in the tropics? Check out this handy list of things to do with kids in Cairns and discover the best things to do with kids in Tropical North Queensland.