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Race In for Fun: Captiva Crab Races

Honestly, my kids are not enthusiastic about many things, but there is ONE thing in particular that gets them excited every time—the Captiva Crab Races.

Every Monday and Thursday at 6 pm at the onsite Crow’s Nest restaurant, you can join the silliness and help raise money for the United Way. (There is also a show at 9pm but it is for adults only.)

No reservations are required but you will need cash to choose a rental crab and you’ll have to give it a name. (Since ‘SpongeBob’ was already taken, my son named his, um, “Stinky Britches.”)

Choosing the right crab from the bowl is tricky! You want one that will leave the other hermits in the dust, so don’t let the sleepers fool you. After all, there are awesome prizes at stake. You can win goodies like a Captiva Crab Races t-shirt, the ever-popular kazoo, and cash.

Once everyone is signed up, the qualifying races begin. Your host, Commissioner Tim, sounds the kazoo, lifts the custom crab starting gate (a wire basket), fires his trusty squirt gun, and they’re off!! You will be on the edge of your seat cheering!

During the crab races, the full menu is not available, but you will find items like pizza, pasta and chicken fingers. There will be something to please most everyone.

The Crab Races at ‘Tween Waters Inn have been a tradition for 25 years and have raised over $180,000 for charity. Commissioner Tim will tell you, “It’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever seen,” but I bet you laugh. And Stinky Britches came in 3rd place –we donated the winnings and kept the t-shirt!

Innsider Tip: Arrive early! During season, get there at 5pm to secure a table and start the crab registration process.

A quick thank you to my friend, Lauren Tjaden and her husband Paul, for the video.

My kids LOVE the Captiva Crab Races. Come early for a seat.
My kids LOVE the Captiva Crab Races. Come early for a seat.
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Family Dining at ‘Tween Waters Inn

If you have a picky eater in your group, we have something in common. My youngest son could live on chicken fingers and Cheerios, so that’s another reason why we love the ‘Tween Waters Inn.

For starters, breakfast is free for resort guests (score!) — just head to Captiva House for an all-you-can-eat buffet. Feast on homemade pastries (made onsite), bowls of whole and sliced fruit, assorted cold cereals, breads and bagels, yogurts, hot cereals and cheeses. A separate menu is available with omelets, huevos rancheros, pancakes and French toast, for a nominal fee. I happen to be a big fan of the oatmeal.

For lunch, no shirt, no shoes, no problem! The Oasis Pool Bar and Grill is open 11:30 am to 5 pm and the smoke from the grills will make your mouth water. Order at the counter or grab an open table. The menu offers sandwiches, wraps, gyros, hot dogs, burgers, and salads. The Char Broiled Grouper sandwich scores high marks with my teenager.

Dinner is a toss up between Captiva House and Crow’s Nest. Both offer a kid’s menu, but Mondays and Thursdays, we choose the Crow so we can participate in their famous Crab Races. “It’s the stupidest thing you’ll ever see,” but the 6pm show is family friendly and has raised over $225,000 for the United Way. They serve a buffet on these nights; every other night they offer a large menu. Our fav is the chicken barbecue pizza and ice cream sundaes but their ‘Gulf Shrimp and Grits’ is SO good, with shrimp, chorizo sausage and cheese grits. Yum!

Your kids will love the sundaes at Crow's Nest.
Your kids will love the sundaes at Crow’s Nest.

Captiva House is the top rated restaurant on Captiva by TripAdvisor but don’t let that scare you from dining here with kids. By day’s end, my little one can be crabby, but we LOVE the food here, so we make reservations early, before the meltdown. Many times, there several other families dining right alongside us. Blue crab bisque, bouillabaisse, twin lobster tails…oh my. Instead of dessert, we have Devon (my youngest) throw a few dollars in the piano player’s tip jar. It’s a nice way to end the evening.

I hope you’ll try these onsite restaurants on your next visit. Let me know what your favorite dish was!

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