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These spots deliver fun along with a meal

The Fort Myers is blessed with a bounty of restaurants. There are fancy, special-occasion spots to come-as-you-are-flip-flops-and-all sort of places in between.

But sometimes, you might want something extra – entertainment of some sort. Whether you are looking for something that pleases the kids or have a romantic adults-only night out in mind, there are venues that offer both edibles and entertainment. That said, sometimes the food isn’t the main attraction, but it’s available and serves the purpose.

That said, here are some ideas for a day or evening out that includes food and fun.

The Shell Factory & Nature Park has something for all members of the family, including the dogs. There is the 80-year-old shell factory itself, which is filled with, well, shells, of course, as well as gifts of all sorts, including Christmas items, the Walt Disney archives collection, gator bookends, T-shirts and loads of other goodies. The nature park offers an up-close look at rescued wild animals. On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, there’s also a flea and farmers market.

The park offers activities such as zip lining, bumper and paddle boats, a climbing wall and gem mining. The dog park offers pups lots of activities, especially on Sundays, when Doggy Church takes place at 9:30 a.m., then it’s time to try out the agility course or spend the afternoon with SunCoast DockDogs, where canines can compete in four wet and wild events that involve diving in the pool.

Hungry? There’s Capt’n Fishbone’s restaurant and the adjoining outdoor Dogbones Café where people can dine and drink and dogs get a free bone.

Gator Mike’s Family Fun Park (formerly Mike Greenwell’s) is a family friendly destination with batting cages, go-karts, mini golf, an arcade, midway rides and, ropes, a zip line and climb wall. For refreshments, there’s Latitude 78, a sports bar featuring a voluminous assortment of beers and wine as well as a full bar and food.

Looking for something a bit more laid back? Consider a visit to Rosy Tomorrows Heritage Farm, a sustainable farm raising grass-fed cows, heritage breed pastured pigs and poultry as well as loads of vegetables. Here you can pet the animals and enjoy a meal (Thursday through Sunday – call ahead for reservations). The food served is made with ingredients primarily raised on the farm or from other area farms. Saturday is market day, when farm members get first dibs on what’s for sale. But the rest of us can show up as well after 11 a.m.

Southern Fresh Farms is a hydroponic farm run by a fourth-generation farming family.  The sustainably-inclined McMahons have created an idyllic farm that yields more on less space. Visitors will find a petting zoo of rescued barnyard critters that include Henry and Moofasa, the cows; Murphy the mini donkey, Lulu the sheep, Olaf the turkey, as well as goats and chickens. Guided tours are available to explain the farm’s mission of sustainability and the importance of farming. There’s also a playground for the kids. The market sells seasonal produce, local raw honey, homemade jellies, fresh seafood, grass-fed beef, bison and wild hog. On Fridays and Saturdays, the new Crazy Dingo Brewing Co. is open, offering small-batch craft beers made on site from hops, also grown on site.

Known as the bar with all the money on the wall, the restaurant at Cabbage Key has been serving boaters for 60 years. If you don’t have your own boat, Island Girl Charters and Captiva Cruises offers luncheon trips and other excursions to the island. It takes about an hour and the ride is as much fun as the meal itself. Dolphins are apt to follow the boat, leaping about in the wake.

Once at the 100-acre island, head into the “Old House” and grab a table inside or outside where you can dine on hot or cold shrimp, stone crab claws (in season), black beans and rice, burgers and other sandwiches. When you’re done, sign a $1 bill and tack it up on the wall with the thousands of others.

If you enjoy games with your meal, Headpinz is the place to go. Bowling, glow bowling, billiards, laser tag, a ropes course and game zone and VR Rabbits, a roller coaster type ride, are all available at the Fort Myers location. There’s a kids’ menu and adults can chow down on wings, tacos, nachos, pizzas, salads, burgers, mac and cheese, chicken and waffles and adult beverages.

For the adventure seekers, check in at Colonial Station in Fort Myers and board the Seminole Gulf Railway Murder Mystery Dinner Train. Once the train heads out, you’ll take a 40-mile, 3 ½-hour trip during which there will be a five-course meal with beverages and a murder mystery show performed by local actors. Passengers get to guess whodunit.

The kids – young and old – will enjoy Zoomers, an 18-acre indoor/outdoor attraction filled with rides, games and attractions situated between Fort Myers and the beaches. There are go-karts, an arcade, bumper boats, cobra roller coaster, a hippo slide, and the Side Tracked Bar & Grille with 12 TVs, pool and air hockey tables, specialty drinks, beer, wine and cocktails plus pizza, wraps, burgers, wings and even a healthy salmon salad. 

Dave & Buster’s recently arrived in Fort Myers. This family-friendly chain offers a sports bar-style setting with American food and arcade games and a dizzying array of TV screens so you won’t miss your favorite team’s game.

Chuck E. Cheese isn’t just for kids’ birthdays, although it’s certainly a popular destination for these rites of passage. Kids love the variety of games, in-store entertainment and, of course, pizza. For adults, there are also salads, sandwiches, wings, beer and wine.

Kitchen Social is a place where food and fun come together in delicious ways. Whether it’s a group of friends or a date night, you can select a class and learn from trained instructors how to make whatever is the theme of the day or evening. It could be puff pastries, surf and turf, pasta from scratch, paella, German Oktoberfest, Cuban fare – check out the online calendar and sign up for the feast of your choice. Learn how to cook it then eat what you’ve made. (Bring your own wine and beer.)

Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre is in its 27th season in Fort Myers and for good reason: The shows are among the top-rated Broadway shows re-created with talented casts and the buffet dinners are well above the standard dinner-theatre fare.

Fleamasters Fleamarket isn’t just for bargain hunters, although with 900 stores include plenty of places in which to hunt for goodies. But this dog-friendly fleamarket, which runs every Friday through Sunday, also has events like doggy costume contests, car shows and live music. Hungry? There are booths devoted to popcorn, coffee and pastries, barbecue, nuts, doughnuts, funnel cakes, burgers, subs and pizza.

Sanibel Harbour Princess Yacht sets sail on Sundays for a leisurely two-hour brunch cruise. Sunset dinner cruises are also available. Both take place on scenic San Carlos Bay. Choose from seats on the outdoor observation deck or the air-conditioned indoor salons. Reservations are required. Cruises depart from the Sanibel Harbour Marriott Resort & Spa.

It’s nice to go to dinner and a movie but when you have to deal with traffic and find two places to park, sometimes it hardly seems worth the effort. Behold, Beach Theater, which offers first-run movies and food all in one place. The menu runs from munchies like wings, fried shrimp, fruit and brie or a veggie plate, to more substantive fare like nachos, tacos, flatbreads, wraps, pizza, salads, sandwiches and pasta.

Table & Tap is a farm-to-table restaurant situated in Babcock Ranch, a new solar-powered community that straddles the Lee-Charlotte county line. Just four miles north of Bayshore Road in North Fort Myers, this restaurant is worth the trip alone, but once you’re there, you can also tour the solar-powered model homes, take an electric boat tour, rent a kayak, take in some live music in the Founder’s Square on the weekends and perhaps stop in for one of the events or festivals that take place periodically.